29 September 2010

Best Album Cover

AFTER LITERALLY DOZENS of votes we are ready to present the winner of the Album Cover Contest (what, you didn't know we were having a contest?). With nearly 20% of the vote the Macchie Road album comes away as the winner. I like this one too, but my favorite is still Against A Wall (also pictured below).

We're looking for ideas for the next photo contest.

27 September 2010

Once a Week?

PERHAPS I SHOULD just plan to update the blog once or twice a week.

I spent a bit of time reading old posts from the first year we were here and was surpirsed to see that we added new posts almost every day -- sometimes more than one per day. Now I'm lucky to get one or two new posts up per week! Oye.

I could manufacture a list of pretty good excuses, but ultimately they wouldn't be any good.

19 September 2010

Doing Nothing and Loving It

FIRST OF ALL, I need to say that I am writing this blog post while the Washington Redskins game is playing in the corner of my screen. A friend here in France introduced me to a website (which will remain nameless for the moment in case it's 110% illegal) and I now have access to all the games live, right on my screen, in pretty good quality. This is outrageous!

OK, so we managed to make it through the entire weekend without even starting the car. We went absolutely nowhere...and loved it. Partly because I was pretty sick (normal for me for this time of year) and partly because we are still re-settling into our house, we decided to just stay chez nous on both Saturday and Sunday. We read books, played golf in the yard (and by 'golf' I mean hitting whiffle balls with a tennis racket around a make-shift course), took some dips in the pool, organized the kids' rooms a bit, rearranged the kitchen, threw a football around, played ping-pong, cooked good food, did homework -- lots of homework!, talked to grandparents and my sister on Skype, played with toys that have been packed away all summer, and watched 'Field of Dreams' with the whole family.

And when I get to work tomorrow and people ask what I did over the weekend I'll say: 'Nothing. Just stayed at home.'

Coffee View

PUT A NEW photo on the top of the blog for fun. It's the view from our balcony and is often the setting of my favorite part of the day: it's where I drink my morning coffee. Kerri and I love to sip our coffee while looking out at the view. We'll never get tired of it. Ever.

13 September 2010

Yeah, I Know

THANKS FOR THE hints, but I already know I need to change the top photo.

Back in the House

AS GREAT AS it is to be able to (read as: have to) explore new parts of Europe each summer, it's is equally great to get back into our house each September. Living out of suitcases isn't the worst thing that can happen to a person, but after a while -- total drag.

On Sunday morning I did what I always do after our first night back: enjoyed a huge cup of coffee out on the balcony and enjoyed the spectacular view. We're very happy to be back. Now if we can just take care of of few damn French paperwork issues (those never, ever stop).

Here's that view:

The Case of the Missing/Found Video Projector

I'M NOT SURE how to explain a little incident that happened over the weekend, but maybe someone can help.

Because I use powerpoint/video/music in virtually every lesson that I teach, I carry around a small video projector that has been issued by my employer. Before each class I hook my laptop to the projector and beam images up on a screen in front of my students. Last Thursday evening I went to a meeting at my school and left the projector in the Salle des Profs -- the faculty lounge. This is something I do quite often and think nothing of it. When the meeting was over I went back to the salle des profs to get the projector only to find that the building was locked-up. This didn't worry me in the least since I had left the projector in the room overnight before. If anything, I felt good knowing the place was locked. But when I got to school on Friday morning and went to find the projector...you guessed it...it was gone. I searched everywhere, asked everyone, checked all administration offices, and finally gave in to the possibility that it had been stolen. I reported it to the appropriate people and went home for the weekend convinced I was now down 1 new video projector.

But when I returned to school this morning I wishfully looked over to the area where I had originally left the projector and...saw it sitting right near where I had left it. What the...? I can't understand what happened: it wasn't there Friday and it was there today. Did someone take it for safe keeping because they saw I had left it in plain sight? Did a member of the cleaning crew take it? Is it possible someone took it thinking it was a computer, then returned it when they saw it was a projector? What happened? Several of my colleagues are also on the case and we're going to try to get to the bottom of it. The only thing I know fore sure is this: I haven't lost my mind! I wasn't there Friday -- and I have lots of people who can verify my story.

Of course, all that really matters now is that I have it back.

New Schedule

NOT FOR ME -- my schedule this year is exactly the same as last year. But the twins have radically new schedules and are experiencing their first year in collège -- the French equivalent of middle school. This means, of course, that Patrick and Julia now attend the school where I teach and they are now mixed with about 1500 other students in an international school that features students in English, Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian programs. It's quite a change from last year when most of their classes were in the same room. Now they have classes sprawled-out all over the large CIV campus in Valbonne. And if you've ever wondered what kind of schedule a 6th grader in France has, here's a hint: long days. Most days start at 8:00 and end at 5:00 with a break for lunch in the middle. A quick sample (note: English means general literature, etc. -- not English as a second language):
  • MONDAY: Hist/Geo in French (2 hrs); French (1 hr); Music (1 hr); English (2 hrs).
  • TUESDAY: French (2 hrs); English (1 hr); Education Physique (2 hrs)
  • WEDNESDAY: Math (2 hrs) -- done with school at 10:00!
  • THURSDAY: English (2 hrs); Hist/Geo in English (2 hrs); SVT - Science (1 hr); Education Physique (2 hrs)
  • FRIDAY: SVT - Science (1 hr); French (1 hr); Math (1 hr); French (again for 1 hr); Math (again for 1 hr); Art/Art History (1 hr); Theater (1 hr);
Friday is a pretty long day. It's almost like cruel and unusual punishment to make kids have math and French twice in one day -- and not back to back. Torture I tell you.

But the kids are adapting well. They eat in the cafeteria three times per week and one day each week they eat with me. Today we went up to the square just near the school and ate at my favorite little spot - Le Petit Cafe. But by far the best part about having them at the same school as me is that every once in a while I get a glimpse of them from across the campus and we share a little wave (or, in Patrick's case, a cool head nod). Those are great moments.

So far so good -- but with the added work and the extra hours, things could get tougher in the weeks ahead. On verra!