From Students to Shaving

I was working on phrasal verbs with my students today and one of the words in phrasal verbs in question was “tire me out”. After seeing the phrasal verb, along with some others we were looking at in context, I set them a discussion task involving questions using the phrasal verbs. The question I asked them was which tired them out more, online classes or face to face classes.

The answer surprised me a little. They said that online classes tired them out more. I was a bit confused, but since they have been trained to give more information when answering questions, I soon got to hear their interesting logic behind the answer. One of them explained, and was quickly backed up by the others in the class, that with online classes they wake up only 5 minutes before class and stumble over to their computers without much thought. When they take face to face classes, they have to get up earlier, shower, eat breakfast, and make the commute. They then explained that this “woke them up.”

I had to consider that they confused “being tired” with “something tired them out”. I could certainly see their logic. However, due to a large age gap, maybe they hadn’t really confused it. Maybe lying around all day waiting for classes to start online really did tire them out. They live in a world where everything (except English classes) is provided “on demand”.

They went off on a tangent about not needing to get ready for class and I thought of myself getting up early, taking a shower, shaving, and eating breakfast before teaching the first online class of the day. I am thick skinned, but they were making me out to be a chump.

I should relate this to my weekend. I didn’t shave from Friday morning to Monday morning. I had a decent amount of growth going. My girlfriend regards my stubble as “daggers’ but by the third day, I could imagine it was starting to get softer. I briefly toyed with the idea of growing my first “pandemic beard” but so many other people had beat me to it.

I relish the oppourtunity not to shave. It is always good to give your face a vacation. However, and my girlfriend is going to love me admitting this, shaving off those three days of stubble also felt pretty good. Which one is the Perfect Moment? It doesn’t really matter. I enjoyed both of them.

Posted in Covid 19, ESL, online, shaving, students, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Shopping Carts

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

A second question for the universe.

Why does the cart I chose appear normal and functional in every single way until I get it within the shopping aisles. Suddenly the wheels start locking up or rolling in directions I don’t want to go.

I probably wouldn’t mind so much if those wheels took me to the chocolate section.

Posted in grocery shopping, questions, shopping | Tagged | 1 Comment

When ESL Teachers Clean Up

I was at work today….really at work, not teaching from a chair in my extra bedroom. And for all the significance that should have in this yet unresolved pandemic era, it wasn’t that remarkable at all. Instead it was something simpler, yet far more illustrative. I call it Today’s Perfect Moment, but that is perhaps a bit ironic.

As you might have read in past installments of this blog, the teachers usually hang out at work in the Teacher’s Room. I don’t know what really characterizes that room, or set of rooms really, in the best way. I will try my best to let you see it through my eyes and breath it through my lexicon.

It is, in fact, chaos. It is anxiety. It is eerie calm. It is diversity in so much more than the obvious. In everything from thoughts to actions, from music to poetry, from languages to nonverbal grunts, from humour to cruelty it assaults and comforts you. It is a sanctuary and an oppressive force. It is loved by many and hated by some.

It is all these things, but neat and tidy it is not. Yes, some teachers are organized and hygienically superior, but they are not the majority. The desks, really more like tables since the company doesn’t believe that anyone would want drawers, are covered with books, pens, textbooks, souvenir knickknacks, and old photocopies that may be needed some day. There are coffee cups, half-read, dog-eared novels. There are travels guides–few of which are up to date. There are trivia cards from a multitude of games because although the games are not fun, the questions certainly are. The boundaries of what space you might actually occupy are blurry for most. Chairs are not tucked in and computer screens are not closed. USB sticks and half eaten lunches litter the computers.

As a deep cleaning will soon be undertaken, teacher’s were asked to come and clean up their spaces at separate times to allow for both physical and temporal distance. In the past two weeks, my every other day trips to work have seen me encounter suddenly clean and junk free desks. Things are gone. It is odd how empty the place looks.

Many of these people will be back whenever the ESL industry recovers. This will require an easing of border restrictions, more flights, economic fortune, and a willingness to fly in an enclosed flying tin can with a bunch of strangers. So probably next summer.

The truth is, though, many will not be back.

Posted in cleaning, co-workers, Covid 19, ESL, online, teaching, work, working from home | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cycling in Septmeber

After teaching face to face classes on alternate days this week, and having to deal with the commute for the first time in 7 months, I was a little tired. I struggled to wake up, but since time is not on my side (many people in my circle…..(ahem) social bubble…have commented that summer is over), I knew I had to get out for a ride this morning. The only problem was that my pillow felt so good and my snooze button was way too accessible.

I managed to get to the meeting place in advance of most people. That was surprising. Eventually a group of about ten showed up. Since most of them were doing a metric century tomorrow (they did an imperial century last Sunday) they decided on a slightly slower paced C group ride. Well, deciding to ride it and actually riding it are two different things, but we set off together nonetheless.

The day was a bit cool and we battled a headwind and some climbs right out of the gate. That was by design as we wanted the flats and the tailwind for the end. I lagged at some moments, but managed to keep up for most of it. We cycled a good page and sometimes had a good paceline. Previous group leaders were more demanding. I actually favour this, but I suspect that I am in the minority. Hopefully next year we will be back to normal participation levels.

The bike felt good maybe my slightly better diet this week was partially responsible for that. Either that or I properly inflated my tires this time. The day started out a bit cool, but I opted not to wear a jacket or even arm warmers. I am glad I didn’t because it warmed up pretty quickly.

It was great to get out and even though I lagged at certain points, I felt this was my strongest ride of the season. I wasn’t fast in so many places, but I didn’t start feeling tired until the 60km mark and even that wasn’t as bad as it had been a few weeks ago. Hopefully I will ride into October, and maybe even a solo ride in November–the group’s insurance doesn’t extend into that month. Who knows.

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A Little Explanation

I just wanted to write a short explanation. The idea for the Questions to the Universe segment of my blog came to me a few weeks ago. I figured that it might be a bit more accessible and fun for people. After burning my waffles this morning, I decided to add the title to the line in my blog next to My Travels.

This caused a whole host of problems. It deleted some things and caused me to waste my entire lunch break chasing the problem. It was quite frustrating. It was also frustrating trying to add a picture from my phone to the blog. Yes, it is easy with the block editor–easy if your phone doesn’t pull up the typing screen and block your view of the block editor that is.

I hope you all like the Questions to the Universe segment. I plan to do it about twice a month. I have lots of questions for the Universe, but some of them are more annoying than interesting.

Obviously, the waffles got burnt because the toaster doesn’t do them in one go and they need to be toasted a second time. I was a bit too preoccupied and they got burnt before I realized it. Is this really a Question for the Universe? I suppose it isn’t. It is clear why the waffles became a carbon mess. However, the Universe works in mysterious ways and maybe the Universe is trying to tell me something.

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A question for the universe.

When the toaster burns your waffles, is it time to:

a) Replace your toaster

b) Stop eating toaster waffles

Posted in questions | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Searching Through Stores

Bosch | Orbital And Random Orbit Sanders - 2-Tool Set | Rona

I find it funny that sometimes you find a good deal, but then the store doesn’t have any in stock. I have two stories to tell you that illustrate this and they both centre around my plans to be handier and a better user of tools.

I caught site of a deal on a random orbital sander and a sheet sander (Bosch) being sold as a set for a price that I had seen for only one of them. Obviously, the sanders would be light on “extras” for that price. It wasn’t going to come with a 100 piece accessory kit. However, having seen some of these “bonus kits” I think I would rather buy my own anyway since they usually contain a lot of things I might never use. After scouting online, I realized that there was only one store in my area that had one…and it had only one in stock. I made plans to go there right away.

When I got to the store, I checked the hardware section but couldn’t find it. I made a couple of laps of the area, but was a bit stumped. I went to go find the employee call button and discovered the set sitting near the computer the clerk could use to find it for me. I thought that maybe the clerk was planning on buying it for him or herself. It might not be true, but that is how my cynical mind works. I scooped it up and headed for the cash.

440 lb Workbench | Princess Auto

The second example requires a bit of a backstory. After fixing my paper shredder twice in the space of two days–yes, I jammed it with paper twice, I thought I really should have a workbench to do some of these repairs on. taking apart the shredder on the floor of my guest bedroom/office really wasn’t conducive to good repairs–possible yes, but far from ideal.

I will eventually make a workbench (if I continue with this hobby) or I will buy something heavy duty when it goes on sale. Currently, I don’t have the tools to build one and I don’t have the money for some expensive workbench or tool box with a butcher block top. As it was, after combing lots of websites, I found one that had a good weight rating, but wasn’t too expensive.

The closest branch of the store didn’t have any (the website did not give me that information and calling seemed quite pointless). They were kind enough to direct me to a store that had two in stock. They suggested I call first before driving there. I called but got no answer–so I went.

Upon arrival at the store, a quick search proved fruitless. Consultation with the clerk started a ten minute search which yielded nothing. Then two clerks got involved and the search was on. It took a further 15 minutes (maybe more) to locate the benches. I had pretty much given up hope at that point

Getting the things home in my small car was also quite difficult. I won’t bore you with it, but the whole production could have made a great episode of Seinfeld.

I haven’t had time to assemble the benches yet, but I am sure I will write about it when done.

Posted in bargain, Canadian Tire, deals, hardware, shopping, tools | 4 Comments

Conversations about Hardware and Price Gougers

I should tell you a little something about myself that is not necessarily obvious. It is true that I am a teacher and need to be very outgoing in that profession. It is also true that writing a public blog that potentially anyone in the world could read (and it is unclear why they don’t) seems to lend itself to the definition of outgoing. However, I sometimes shy away from conversations with strangers or store clerks. Keep this in mind as you read Today’s Perfect Moment.

I recently changed the light bulb in my oven. This is not a particularly difficult feat, but it did necessitate the removal of the light bulb cover. On my girlfriend’s oven, this required a special grippy cloth to accomplish. Mine didn’t need that, but it did require care because the cover is cracked completely in two. I have lived with it this far, but I thought it might be prudent to get a replacement. I figured that a hard glass piece like that was worth about five dollars. When they quoted me a price of over 80, I was almost speechless. I checked online and could only find one for about 65 dollars.

My next thought was to glue it back together. Realizing that it would be in the oven, I wondered if conventional glue would just burn off or poison my cooking. There must be a glue for this application.

I went to Canadian Tire because it is pretty much my go to store. I prefer Home Hardware, but I didn’t think that glue for glass and heat were really up their alley. At the store, I lined up a few alternatives and was really at a loss for what to do and which one to buy. Not surprisingly, none of them had “good for oven light bulb covers” written on the packaging.

So, I decided to ask someone at the store. I didn’t ask the young kid who looked like he would rather be skateboarding. Instead, I talked to someone a bit more mature who was working at the paint counter (which also held the adhesives). We talked about the products and in the end he talked me out of buying anything. I am not sure that is store policy, but I felt good getting his honest review of the choices.

You might wonder how not solving my problem and not buying anything can be Today’s Perfect Moment. What I should remind you of is that I generally don’t like talking to store clerks (so much so that I would rather wander around the store myself that ask one for help most times) and that I figured they might sell me something that wasn’t going to work. Keeping all that in mind, it is obvious that getting good advice from someone I probably wasn’t going to approach is Today’s Perfect Moment.

I should also note that when I told him the price of the replacement, he just shook his head and muttered some bad words about price gouging and terrible people.

If you know what kind of glue I can use on glass bulb covers in an oven which can be set as high as 500 degrees, please let me know.

Posted in Canadian Tire, DIY, home maintenance, home repair, shopping | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Back in the Classroom

The students have been clamouring for it and today we made it a reality. We had face to face classes for the first time since mid March. For me, it was the first time back in the classroom since mid February.

I was given a mask and a face shield. The students were given instructions to keep their masks on at all times and maintain physical distancing rules. The school has a whole host of changes that involve not using some of the equipment, limiting the ability of students to congregate and restricting access. I have a line not to cross and no photocopies shall be given. There are other rules and sanitizing equipment, but you get the idea.

I was a bit nervous to go in and teach today. I was more nervous to ride the bus and subway with a bunch of strangers than the students. I knew that the teaching would suffer a little, but it might be time to open up again. There are only a few students left at the school, but there seem to be a bunch in the Toronto area who have been waiting to take face to face classes, so it might work out.

I probably would have been fine to continue on for another month giving classes from my spare room. However, the students really want face to face classes. Therefore, we are taking it slow. There are only a handful of students in the school and things are scheduled so they are not able to mingle. We are only there for a few hours on Monday Wednesday and Friday, so it isn’t every day yet.

I am not sure ESL is meant to be taught this way, but I will do my best to carry out the plan.

Posted in appreciation, Covid 19, ESL, obstacles, teaching, Toronto | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Finding Refuge

Based on the anecdotes I have read or heard, I am not really following the classic pattern of this pandemic. I am watching less TV rather than more. I have not exhausted Netflix. I have managed to watch a few “new-ish” things on Amazon Prime when visiting my girlfriend (Fleabag is awesome).

Before you start thinking that I have somehow taken the high road, and put all my energy into cycling and self-improvement, let me assure you that it didn’t happen that way. I started out the pandemic that way. I was doing planks and push-ups between classes. I had improved my flexibility quite a bit before my inner lazy demon took over and returned my body to its original state (before the trip to Colombia that caused me to lose a serious amount of weight).

TV itself just didn’t pan out. There might be hockey, but my team didn’t make it into the playoffs. Actually watching many sports without the sound of real fans is not interesting. They put in the sounds of crowds cheering, but not booing. Which one do you think is more motivating?

Despite this, in recent days, I have found a bit of refuge in things of old. I decided to watch a couple of TV series that I haven’t watched in the past couple of years. These include Being Erica, Warehouse 13, and Firefly.

I pride myself on having a pretty stellar memory, but for movies and TV shows, I am sometimes at a loss. I remember things, but the details are lost on me. Watching things again, especially if I am pretty clear on the overall plot, gives me the chance to examine these details. I still like these shows and can appreciate them a bit more.

What older shows can you re-watch?

What shows are you currently re-watching?

What shows were so good that watching them again brings back all those feelings?

Posted in Covid 19, entertainment, TV | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments