devi: (lost)
I have marked so many IT practice papers in this last week that my eyes are starting to bleed and my long-standing hatred for the IT syllabus has been stoked up till it burns with the fire of a million suns. I swear they have gone through it and taken out everything that might make students think computers are cool and amazing, and replaced it with endless grey screeds on how employers can profit from computer use, and the Eight Rights and Four Requirements, or hang on it's the Four Rights and Eight Requirements, of the Data Protection Act. No wonder students think people who are enthused about computers are sad. So here you go, my fantasy IT syllabus, concocted a few minutes ago to cheer myself up:

What is the lesson for today? )

I would do some of the less silly things, but I'm always trying to fit in the whole existing syllabus in not enough time, and anyway about half the students would start foaming at the mouth if I told them they couldn't get marks for it. Sigh.

Though I'm afraid if I was in charge, the exam papers would include questions like "How awesome is Google Earth? Justify your answer with examples (10 marks)."

(Edit: I went to XKCD to link to this ("Pop quiz: Here is a cartoon. Explain the joke") and the current strip was this one. Well, yes, quite.)
devi: (bookish)
I was up marking coursework till nearly 3am last night and now my head is full of wool and my neck feels simultaneously stiff and too wobbly. Today was running up and down stairs chasing more coursework, sending the students out to buy plastic folders and find me the hole punch because surely you're not submitting THAT? It's all in but one now, finally, and for the rest of the evening I am off duty. I am eating bucket pasta and thinking about watching 24 Hour Party People, which always inspires me because it's about a shambolic disorganised mess of a person who through sheer enthusiasm manages to make great stuff happen, almost by accident.

But even despite my adrenalin-filled get-things-done state, I still found myself perched on the edge of the bed half-dressed for half an hour this morning, breathlessly devouring the end of Geoff Ryman's Air. Oh my. I'd only picked it up while packing my bag to see how far I was from the end. I went out to catch the bus still staggered by the brilliance.

More people ought to know about Geoff Ryman. Okay, lots of people seem to have read 253, his book of thumbnail portraits of people on a tube train, but who knows about The Child Garden, the love story of a girl and a polar bear opera-singer in a near-future sub-tropical London? It's full of amazing language and big ideas and is one of the best books I've ever read. Was, his remix of The Wizard of Oz, is also great and very, very dark. Lust is an awkward one, about a scientist who develops the power to manifest anyone he fancies, alive, dead or fictional, but it's still got more crunchy concepts and moments of insight and beauty than any three more processed and pasteurised books you care to mention, and towards the end goes careering off into a gorgeous crazed mystic tangent about what really happens when you die. He writes about time and memories and the random connections between people, the texture of cities and making art and throwing impromptu street parties in the face of death. With balloons.

Excuse my fangirling. I just think he's criminally ignored, though he did win a bunch of awards for Air, which is set in the last village in the world to get online. When I was in Trinity Netsoc we invited him over to give a talk about 253 and online fiction (yes, it was the late nineties, how can you tell?) and a bunch of us committee people got outrageously drunk with him in his B&B while he told the guy who was Secretary to stop wasting his life and go have babies. It sounded as if he felt he'd failed at his life. I think he ought to have people peeling grapes for him, if there was any justice.

Off to the Bristol Comic Expo tomorrow with a bundle of Wasted Epiphanies to thrust upon people. With polar bears in it, yes. I rip off Mr Ryman all the time without meaning to.
devi: (railway)
so tired - eyes full of fluff and bits of grit - throat achy and swollen from too many words passing through - brain achy from trying to explain – didn't stop till ten o'clock tonight - tired - neck doesn't want to hold my head up - reading things up for tomorrow and not a single concept more will go in - the webpage makes no sense to me - I read it again, still makes no sense – tired - two days off in the last fifteen - work in the evenings too - coffee breaks are not for coffee but for reading subject specs and staying just an inch ahead - lunchtime is for printing out exam papers – tired - did I say tired? I'm too tired to remember.

Everything else is stalled, the book, seeing people, even replying to comments, sorry. There is only work. Though even with this bombed-out brain I can recognise that the work is worth it.

I have a brief window for me in the morning, walking to the bus through the woods, through patchy frost and slanting sunlight, stopping to stare at blossoming trees. I never get to drink all of my morning coffee because it doesn't have long enough to cool, so I drink maybe half of it in small wincing gulps and when I leave the house sleep is still wrapped round me, warm and cushiony like my big black coat.

Then I get on the bus and start marking papers.

Atoms!!

Apr. 28th, 2005 01:55 pm
devi: (Default)
"All right. This is a picture of an atom. Can you show me which part is the - "
"Miss, what's an atom?"
(blink) "You haven't done atoms? No? Okay... atoms are what all matter is made of. They're like the building blocks that everything is made from. You're made of atoms. I'm made of atoms. The air is made of atoms. There are lots of different kinds of atoms, have a look at this periodic table - "
(peering at his hand) "I can't see any."
"They're very, very tiny. Microscopic. Things don't get much smaller."
"But what if you cut one in half?"
(rashly) "There'd be a huge explosion."
"What?!"
"Um... atoms are held together by powerful forces. If you split one it releases lots of energy. That's where nuclear power comes from. But it's very hard to split them in the first place."
(he turns pale, eyes darting around) "So there might be some atoms in this room?"
"Yes, there's lots - everything is made of atoms."
"Do I have atoms in my eyes?"
"Yeah. Your eyes are made of atoms. Everything is made of atoms."
"So I might have atoms on me right now?" (He's rubbing his arms, to wipe the pesky things off)
"Well, because everything is made of atoms, yes, you do."
"Isn't that dangerous?"
(struggling to keep straight face) "No, it isn't. Don't worry."
"But what if I just did this - " (he pinches his fingers together) " - and split one by accident?"
"Really. Don't worry. It takes huge amounts of energy to split the atom. It's never going to happen."
"But if it did, miss, I'd be in the newspaper, yeah?"
devi: (Default)
I've just updated postwodehouse.com, so you can go and read all about my embarrassing incident while staggering to Oxford Circus tube last night, after a lovely evening in the Glassblower celebrating [livejournal.com profile] haggisthesecond's new job. I am a terrible liar. I don't think I can bear to go into it here.

I've cancelled the kid who was going "gimme free half hour! gimme! Okay, I'll sulk if you won't!" Suddenly I'm not dreading Wednesdays any more. Should have done that ages ago.

Currently devouring Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. All the reviews when it first came out said it was a sort of cerebral puzzle with no heart. They are so wrong. (Plus the middle of it contains a large chunk of what I can only describe as sci-fi. It gives me hope for my own stuff.)

And I think it's finally spring. I can smell it.
devi: (Default)
Last night I went to [livejournal.com profile] kesstrel's for Heathers and enthusiasm soup, and when I left to walk up the hill everything was silent and frozen, with an almost-full moon shining, and some weird compulsion made me draw stars and faces and things with my finger on car windscreens, the tops of wheely bins, and any other flat surface I could see that had snow on it.

That morning on my way to the bus I'd passed another windscreen with "ZAPPA!" written across it in the snow.

*

I'd been worrying that he'd been locked up in a detention centre for illegal aliens and not made it to America at all, but [livejournal.com profile] verlaine just phoned from Miami. Apparently triple-breasted women swim around town totally naked, but he can't get on LJ because his local library has declared it to be "tasteless".

*

It was a day of small embarrassments.

I teach this boy GCSE English. This is the demanding one I've ranted to some of you about, who rings me up at all hours of the night to ask me to set him essays. Last week he asked if I'd give him an extra half-hour each week. Fine, I said. That would be an extra x quid. "No, free," he said, "as a favour. All my other tutors agreed happily to do it." Hmm, said I, I dunno. This week he asked again. I said I was quite skint and couldn't just go around handing out free half-hours that I could be spending earning money. Or going home for a rest. (I might have done it if I liked the kid, but something about him always puts me on edge.)

He got his dad in to back him up. Dad makes me even edgier than Kid. "All the others are very pleased to do it," he said, "and they live further away than you." I still said no. "Well, then," said Dad sulkily, sounding younger than his son, "one hour, not a single minute more, if you want to be like that." He flounced out. I was expecting him to kick something on his way.

I went to the tube, alternately feeling triumphant and brooding that maybe I was a horrible person (am I? Answers on a postcard, please), and in mid-brood completely failed to recognise [livejournal.com profile] eviltwinemma. Her hair is short and red and I've hardly seen her since 2001 when my hair was blue, but still. Duh.

Then I timed my return home perfectly so I could run into Mad Claire Downstairs in the hall as she was going out. She smiled a stretched smile that clearly pained her. "I haven't seen you in a while," she tinkled laboriously. "No indeed," said I, and went on up the stairs.

*

Can I have a new womb, please? Do they sell them on eBay?

*

Oh, the fun of dropping letters for postwodehouse.com. The thrill of standing behind things and watching people examining them, or ignoring them. Today I dropped three in the Science Museum and two in the Natural History Museum. Last I saw them, one was being treated as suspicious by a security guard, who seemed to be scanning it with some sort of raygun thing. Another was snatched up almost as soon as I dropped it, which was cool, because I'd put it in front of an ecology display which announced that we were connected to all other living things. Another, sadly, was being repeatedly trodden on.

I think I'm going to update the site every week from now on. I'll try to incorporate some sort of experiment blog. A lot of you seemed quite interested to see how it progressed, so I was thinking of setting up a mailing list to notify people when an update's been done. If you'd like to be on it, put your email in the box. I won't spam your inbox; in fact I won't mail you more than once a week, promise.

[Poll #443184]

And [livejournal.com profile] miss_newham, of course you can have another go.
devi: (Default)
I have an ad up on a website called A+ Tutors. So far, I've had lots of legitimate enquiries from decent, salt-of-the-earth people who just want their kids to get good grades... until Mr Frank Sam came along. Or maybe he's Mr Mark Rich. Or sometimes 'Frank from England'. It's not entirely clear.

Frank or Sam or Mark is a generous man. He wants to send me 4500 quid to teach his son English. But to do that, he'll need my state and zip code.

the email exchange, for the really curious )
I'm looking forward to seeing if he replies to that last one!

But what I'm wondering is, what's the point? What does he hope to get out of it? Is it just snailmail address collecting, for the sending of junkmail? If so, it seems like a lot of bother. Or is there something more sinister going on?

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