Dont buy the Sun.

Dont buy the Sun.
Hillsborough Justice campaign - Remember the 96.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Website madness

As background to this post, part of the 'deal' that Nel and I have, now she has a permanent post,is that I have the liberty to pursue a new career direction, if I should choose. Her achievement in gaining liberation from post-doctoral purgatory (AKA 'getting a job') has given us a degree of financial security that we've never had before, which in turn gives me more freedom to work in a job that I do'nt hate. This is incredibly liberating, yet, at times overwhelming, because I've sometimes wished over the last few weeks that I HAD to go out to the building site, just to avoid making any decisions. Despite this, with Nel's patience quietly ticking in the background, I have continued my quest. Wordsmith, career consultant , cat psychologist, dramaturge and minor celebrity as possible careers have all been examined and rejected on the grounds that describing the above 'professions' as my occupation would still leave people at dinner parties, or on the bus for that matter, wondering what I actually did for a living.

Finally, after much research(and research is the point of this post which I will get to eventually), I have narrowed future options down to 2 choices, part time Lecturer in Woodwork and Stagecraft, and qualifying as a Home Inspector. Both prospective careers build on my experience, and are socially useful. Additionally, the role of Home Inspector will mostly involve critisizing other people's work. I suppose it was'nt until I socialized with academics that I realised how much fun this can be. Unlike academia, however, Home Inspectors do not themselves get critisized. Sued occasionally maybe, but there's always bankrupcy as an escape route.

To research these new career routes thoroughly (where do I get trained?, how much does it cost?, potential earnings, validity of qualifications etc), I turned, as I suppose we all do these days to the web. After about two days research, I wanted to go back to the building site. I was having nightmares of being trapped in a never ending loop of weblinks, chased by acronyms for demons, and every escape door out was a freephone number with an infinite number of selections on the touch tone menu. One particular loop I actually did get trapped in started at

led me to

via about ten other sites to

then back to the original site.

Finally, in desperation (fuelled by prior knowledge or English government departments), I telephoned the JobCentre.My question was quite simple:

"How do I teach people to bang nails into wood? And get paid for it. "

NOTE: For those of you who do'nt know, the JobCentre is a UK government high street centre where jobs are posted, careers advice is given, training is arranged and social security benefits are administered. It's name is supposed to tell you what it does. To belabour the point, it is a CENTRE for JOBS (and re-training)

I eventually get through to the Official Government Careers Advisor at the JobCentre. I informed her of my situation, my aspirations and my keening desire to impart my wisdom to the growing clamour of youth, who are apparently desperate to acquire a trade. So to the question "What qualification do I need to become a trade school teacher?", her considered answer was "Do'nt know". And to the now redundant second question "What funding might be available", her answer was defined by her first answer. Going for broke, I asked where I may be able to seek additional advice. The careers advisor scored a full house of negatives with her answer to this question, and to the follow-up of "Do you know who I might be able to speak to in order to ask where I might be able to enquire where I might get additional advice", and its scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel sister "Is there any help you can give me at all?".

Next day, despondently walking through the Hull drizzle(yes, the climate is a bit Halifax), en route home after an emergency cat-food run , I popped into the local community centre to see if there was a crochet or needlework class I could join for something to do. A badly photocopied, faded yellow poster caught my eye "Do you have Skills you want to pass on? Have you considered teaching Adult Education?" Barely breathing I approached the empty looking tattered cardboard box labelled "Aplications" (spelling reproduced accurately from source). One solitary faded application, titled "Application for City and Guilds Certificate in Delivering Learning", lifted slightly by the passing breeze, sat in the bottom of the box. I picked the form up, helped it home, and quickly filled it in, leaving only the cat food in the community centre, forgotten by me, but unlike all the websites, probably useful to someone.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007


Well, December might have been very mild in Halifax, but February has been true to form. Not much snow but plenty of good cold weather. The lakes have more than 12 inches of ice. Carl and I went out with a bunch of friends from work last weekend to play hockey on Frog Pond. We also went out and shot the puck around with our "little brother" Tremaine. The picture shows the three of us on Lake Banook, across from the canoe club. (Click the picture for a bigger image).

Friday, 16 February 2007

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Farewell Karaoke in London

Some pics of Jodie Culham doing Karaoke. Not just Jodie, honourable mentions also to Mr Maurice Sheehan, of course, Marc Joanisse - wonderful version of 'Welcome to the Jungle' and Brittany Spears 'Do it to me one more time', Steve Hunter, Marianne and Karen from PAW, Rob Dunn and Claire (owners of the Oxford), Martin and Phillipe. Everyone put in career killing performances - if you do'nt want these pictures publish you know where to send the cheques.

Farewell Karaoke in London

Hi all,

I just had to share this recent picture of Maya. Check out her left hand. Just 5 months old and already she's flipping me off! I didn't think that would happen until the teen years...


Friday, 9 February 2007

Looking for a job in Hull

Not that I particularly use job boards or websites, but, having a spare half hour this afternoon, I decided to try to browse a few. The funniest one, is a website called Try to do a jobsearch on this site under any category.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

First few days as lecturer at Hull

Well my first proper job in .... more years than I care to count. I've got a pension and everything. Although I got off to a bad start - vomiting in the bathroom at home most of the day would not be considered an auspicious beginning - everyone was very kind and understanding. I've just about finished with the admin stuff - filling out forms and such and expect to get paid wads and wads of cash at the end of the month (I wish). I was expecting to get thrown in at the deep-end based on all the stories I had heard in Canada but its seems to be very different here. I met with Head of the Department on Saturday (I didn't have to - but he was going to be away all this week). After I had blathered on about 'going to do this, going to do that ... etc etc for 5 minutes he turned to me and said "well we don't expect you to everything all at once, take your time, get settled in, if there is anything you need let me know. If you don't mind I would like you to help Johan (another lecturer) out with some of his teaching load with the 1st years. It won't be much and won't involve any preparation (16 hours effectively being a TA and some marking). Other than that your time is your own. I apologize that our induction is not very good and keep in mind if you don't know how to do something don't worry it will be our fault for not explaining things well." Oh joy ... its all very relaxed and I've already had some very enjoyable chats with some of the staff. I feel very comfortable in the department and I'm planning some collaborative projects already. All in all I'm very happy with the choice we made to come to Hull - although it is hard to be so far away from you all.

So, what the heck is a Nam Karan Sanskar?

To clarify my previous post: "Nam Karan Sanskar" translates as "Name giving ceremony". It is the Hindu equivalent of a baptism, except there's a whole lot of throwing rice, blowing conch shells, and burning stuff instead of pouring water on foreheads. You can read more about it here:

Note that this suggests it is only a Sikh ceremony, something that several Hindus I know would find pretty insulting... But the rest of the info seems to be correct.

One important aspect of the ceremony is that they tie a red string around each of the parents' wrists (right for father, left for mother). You are not to cut this off, but rather let it wear off. Interestingly, such a red string is also a symbol of Caballah, an ancient Jewish mysticism tradition currently advocated by Madonna, among other celebrities. I've been debating whether or not to explain to my students what the red string around my wrist is, lest they thing I'm part of "that Madonna thing".


Charles, please read

Hi Charles,

Question for you in comments section below your post.



Charles Checks In

Hi all,

First, Nell and Martin, I think this is an excellent idea you've got here. Now, I can't resist being one of those parents who keeps shoving pictures of his kids in other people's faces, so here are links to many pics of little Maya (soon to be five months old):

Glad to hear you're settling in okay despite some poorly timed illnesses and such. Say hi to Chang for me.


Missing you and Molly Pic

Have finally figured out how to view all your wonderful pics with a Mac...which isn't trivial. Yes, and miss you terribly. Thought that a good pic of Molly would go down well.
I'm fine and so are the dogs. I think that I'd move to Beverley just to see those wonderful carvings looking at me everyday.
Love to you both,

Monday, 5 February 2007

Happy Birthday to Maurice

Invite you all to wish Maurice a Happy Birthday.

Day out in Beverley

We had promised ourselves a hike this weekend in the Yorkshire Wolds - but Nel was (is!) still pretty sick with this bug that seems to be spreading like wildfire round Britain ( see also Cristiana, Will, Jane, Christine, my little brother Richard). Even the local pharmacist, with his plethora of remedies has succumbed. I found this out as he coughed and spluttered his way through an explanation of how the virus is spread, as he was handing over the soluble Paracetomol I was purchasing from his very boutique.

So we decided to visit Beverley - a small market town 10 miles north of Hull. This way, we'd have a day out, but not too taxing. Also there is a sizeable proportion of staff at University of Hull live in Beverley so checking out real estate as well. I heard the first non-English accents I've heard (since coming here) in a cafe.

If I may digress for a second... I was going to describe the above cafe as 'nice'. However, the English (particularly among Brits) overuse the word 'nice' in a similair-but-opposite fashion to North Americans over-use of 'awesome'. For example, someone delivering a Tim Hortons to your desk is not always 'awesome'. The Grand Canyon probably is, and I know, from personal experience, that getting attacked by a black bear is, but a Tim Horton's coffee? Conversely, I've heard an English person describe the aurora borealis as 'nice'. With no exclamation mark.

So, to continue, the cafe was not 'nice', it was awesome. The interesting thing about hearing these non-English people speak English (with a Swedish or Norwegian accent) was that I understood what they were saying better than I currently understand the locals.

Wrapping up, Beverley is very n....ear and picturesque. Our photos do'nt really do it justice. Consider it as a place to live? Definitely on the list of possibles? Maybe in the future. It has one serious drawback, which is that it is a hub of full-on folk music. We (I) had a truly, truly great pint in the Monks pub (see album) slightly flattened by the cacophony emerging from the back room of geography teachers from Hull singing folk songs about how great it is to be a Cornish miner, in false Lancishire accents. For those of you who may not have the necessary background (accent wise) to appreciate how truly distressing this is, just imagine Celine Dion singing Barratt's Privateers in a fake Newfie accent.

Other news quickly is that Nel's started work, and is enjoying her second day thoroughly after a good breakfast. I'm applying for jobs - there's a great drive here to train tradespeople and there are several local colleges where training is offered to kids. Many of the training posts are sessional, needing no formal teaching quals, with further career training (to the tutors) offered, so I've applied for a few jobs there - a very exciting possibility.

Day out in Beverley

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Slip Slide and Away

Well, I guess it took me a little longer than Jody to find my way to the 21st Century...Thanks, Nell & Martin, for the great pictures of your hike and around home and for your updates. (Sorry that your first day at work was spent at home, Nell). I enjoyed your hiking picts and also the brochures that you sent. Tourism England should be paying you royalties.

We've been out doing some skating this past week. Had perfect ice for a few days - glassy smooth and frozen to >7 inches all the way from Lake Banook through to Lake Charles. But then it snowed, melted, snowed, and froze again. We haven't been back out to try it but suspect that it will be like skating on sandpaper.

Not much else is new for us. Carl is working today (Sunday) at the scanner, then we're going to our little brother's basketball game. Same old, same old.

Saturday, 3 February 2007

Hello from Taiwan

Dear Nell and Martin,

I hope Nell is feeling much better now.

It's great to join you here and to know more about your life in Hull. I've been thinking of doing the same, but travelling back and forth between two cities (my university and my parents' place) just distract me so much that I seldom sit down and read or do something fun except for work.

I like the magnificent view in your hiking pictures! Denise and I are planning a mountain climbing trip, and I hope I would share some pictures with you all soon.



Friday, 2 February 2007

My first blog ..... wowowowowow

Hello Hallo (I still do not know which one is correct)!

Nell, you have all of my support ..... yesterday I was in bed with 39.5 dgrees of fever (that the way I celebrated my first year in England)! My phone dropped our nice conversation but I promise to replace it. Not only as a revenge, but also because it has numbers as big as my glasses (maybe it is a phone for old people) and because the signal is pretty bad! You and Martin sounded like calling from the house of frogs!

Well .... just to say I'm happy to be part of the family!

PS: can we add an option "check spelling" .... I'm still afraid of what I can write or mis-write!

First day at work

A complete disaster. I never even made it into work. I woke up around 6am feeling extremely nauseous. The inevitable ensued (I'll spare you the details) and spent the rest of the day and night in bed. Managed to drag myself in today to do some administrative stuff. Fortunately everyone was very understanding. I can't believe that my first sick day was also my first day of a new job.

Lovely to hear from you all - Martin said he's going to load some more party pics, later this weekend.
Hello Both,

I can't say I have ever blogged before, so this feels a little weird..............Great to hear your news. The pictures of your hike are fabulous and I am very jealous that you have walks like that at so close by (I am not going to show the pictures to Maurice because it will make him home sick). Your place looks very lovely and comfortable.

All is well here, other than we all have colds and flu! Callum is sleeping though.........well, most of the night. It's Maurice's big 35 next weekend and we are going out on the town to celebrate -- we thought we'd be really wild and go out for dinner and a movie. =)

Callum points out your car in the morning and then asks "if we can go see Nell and Martin".

We miss you.


Thursday, 1 February 2007

Greetings from Glossop

Hello Everybody.

Nell's Mom & Martin's mother-in-law

And he's from Hull......

SOme of you guys may have heard of this man - Karl Bushby.

He's trying to walk round the world. I've just seen a tv programme about his crossing of the Bering Straits on foot. In seven years or so, I'll be able to greet him as he arrives in Hull.




Cool to be able to "see" you and your lives. Martin looks very British in the photos. The pics are a good incentive for us Canucks to visit.

In the past month, I've gotten a web cam, transferred my whole life to Google, and now I'm commenting on a blog. You'd think it were the 21st century or something.

Take care,

Thanks for the invite

This is all totally new for me, but it does seem a good way to keep in touch easily so I'm game to give it a go. It was wonderful to see your pics...your hike shots are gorgeous! Hope you're all settling in and getting a feel for the place now. Found a good pub yet? That always helps ...

I'll try to get the photo bit figured out and post some pics soon. Iain learned how to skate over the past week or so. He's Very Determined to be a hockey player. I'm not so keen on it...very expensive sport and you have to get up really early every weekend. Oh well, he's only 3 yet, I'm sure he'll have a few more desperate desires along the way.