Tuesday, September 22, 2009
That's about where the pluses end. The list of annoyances and hassles is legend.
There's the closure of the cafeteria in the building my classes take place in by 7 pm in the evening, so that if the prof loses track of time you're stuck trying to buy junk food from perpetually sold out vending machines with change you can't get from the perpetually empty change machine with money you can't get from an ATM that's a half kilometer walk up a mountain to get to (not to mention the lady who begins to stand by the entrance and starts glaring students down at 6:45 sharp as they go in to make sure they know to get the heck out because she's not sticking around one second longer).
There's the seven different user IDs (none of which are identical to the ID code on your student ID card, which makes TOTAL sense) you need to log into the student information management portal, the library services log in that's buried 8 clicks deep in the library website and the inability to use your student ID to pay for printing on campus (gotta love those honour system donation cans next to laser printers all throughout Seton Academic Centre), and the student webmail interface where your email address has NOTHING to do with your login ID.
But what I love most of all? The parking Nazis at MSVU. The office where parking passes can be purchased is conveniently located ALL the way at the top of a massive hill a 5 minute hike from ANY parking lot close to the main academic building where my classes are held. A pass to park in lots that are 85% void of vehicles after 4:30 pm is $7... There's always the pay to park option, although by looking at the signage around the payment kiosques it would seem to the naked eye that there are 4 total spots you can use this service in that are never empty (and the webpage where parking rates are listed doesn't tell you how you can pay, but like everything else on campus, it's cash only, and if you don't have cash, you can walk 10 minutes up the mountain to the ATM, try and get change out of one of the perpetually empty change machines, and then walk 10 minutes back to the pay and display kiosque, then back to your car and THEN go to class).
The parking meters closest to the building I take classes in are routinely full when I arrive for class, so getting a pass is an enormous hassle that generally means I would be 10-15 minutes late for class to get one.
So when I walk out at night and see a sea of parking tickets on car windows that belong largely to full time teachers taking night classes, my blood boils.
The kicker? The parking tickets, issued on PRIVATE PROPERTY owned exclusively by MSVU, aren't MSVU tickets payable to the Mount- they're Halifax Regional Police tickets that ensure that you're out $32 and potentially points on your licence if you don't pay within the 4 nanosecond limit before you're summoned to court to explain why, as a full time teacher who can't leave their workplace until 55 minutes before class starts, then travel home by car pool to get the one family vehicle in time to rush to class while driving through the biggest construction project in recent memory on the highway right before the exit to get to the university and take 30 minutes to go to one building and the ATM that only dispenses $20 bills that ensure you'll get 2 kg of change from the pay and display kiosk or change machine, or then the building with the security desk where you can buy the pass, and THEN drive to the lot that isn't a 10 minute hike from the building your class is in, you didn't have a valid parking pass.
Here's hoping Alexa McDonough gets wind of the genius logistics of this university and does something about it. I can tell you I won't be attending the school again, and neither will my kids, and anyone I meet considering spending money there will get a comprehensive picture of how frustrating a place it is to go to class and get stuck with idiotic municipal tickets because you parked in a parking lot at a school where ALL offices are closed before you ever parked your car.
The Canadian university to offer a masters degree for teachers in an entirely online format will be getting heavy consideration from me for my next qualification upgrade.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Total time: 10:01
54 seconds slower than Wednesday, but I did it with no stops and I DID it.
Eat it little hater. You ain't got no hold on me no more.
Run tomorrow night, next workout Monday. Thanks for the cheers y'all!
As you know, I've kickstarted the run/workout regime coinciding with the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. I've set some goals, and now the trick isn't just to post them, but actually follow through. I ran twice this week, and Eric and Shahed came to give me a boost with my first crossfit workout.
The toughest part about getting in shape is building the habit of working out consistently. I don't know how you all feel about the hardest part about getting off the couch and into a healthy routine, but I find that one of my biggest enemies is the little voice in my head that keeps jawing about how pathetic I am, how overweight I've gotten or that it's cute that I'm trying but it's inevitable that I'll be back snacking instead of running in a week or two anyway, so why not take a break?
I draw a little inspiration from this:
So I'm not going to give in to my little hater. Yes, I weigh 260 pounds. Yes, I used to weight 212. But I didn't blimp up in one week, and I'm not going to cut it all out in one week either. It's hard work, it's going to hurt, and that's the price of getting back to where I should never have left in the first place.
So here's notice hater: I won't fade. I won't give up, and I will learn to savour the ache, because that's what tells me I'm headed in the right direction. When I feel blissfully round, I'll be worried.
Pray for grace to get this one down- my right tricep feels like it's full of razors. Let you all know how it goes!
Monday, September 07, 2009
So far, I'm moving ahead with most of my goals quite nicely. Lagging notoriously behind? Scripture, running and working out.
Tonight, I threw down the gauntlet on my lardy self and went for a run.
20 minutes and 3.1 km later (first run in 13 months), I have launched the first salvo in the war to get fit and stay that way after a decade of yo-yoing between being in awesome shape and being a paragon of chub.
Next up on the road to fitness? Wednesday night throwdown with Eric and Shahed in my basement, with the new chin up bar I fabricated out of an old pipe and two hunks of 2 x 4. I'm glad to get rolling, but MAN, is it painful to realize how far I've fallen in terms of my being in shape.
With three kids looking on, I gotta win this one. Need to set a good example to follow so I don't raise a generation of couch potatoes!
Smack talk, encouragement or comments all welcome to fuel my effort to win the battle of the bulge...
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
- No food after 6 pm
- Portion control – 1 plate per meal, 1 portion protein, carbs, veg
- Vitamins daily
- 1 treat a week (junk food, etc)
Monday, August 31, 2009
So I've put together a basic list of goals for myself for this year, most having to do with establishing quality habits that will yield results with time and consistency. Here goes:
- No food after 6 pm
- Portion control – 1 plate per meal, 1 portion protein, carbs, veg
- Vitamins daily
- 1 treat a week (junk food, etc)
- Run 3x a week (mornings!)
- Work out 3x a week (evenings)
- Bed by 11 pm
- No TV on weeknights (except Thurs, Survivor, The Office)
- Read scripture daily
- Memorize one scripture a month
- Small group material
- Read a book every two weeks
- Blog once a week
- Marking major assignments on two week turnaround to students
- Tech team, SFC, one school team
- Time at work is time to work- no surfing, rec, games at lunch, before/after school
- Schedule one night a week to get out and work at a "neutral" location (during weeks with no board meeting for church)
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The Packers are now notorious for letting the frenzy that is opening weekend of free agency go by without wasting much time or effort to attract the most prized (and extremely pricey) free agents. Only twice has Ted Thompson (TT to the Packer faithful) made significant splashes in free agency to sign players of note: defensive tackle Ryan Pickett and cornerback Charles Woodson.
With the Packers transitioning to a 3-4 defensive alignment in their defense this offseason with the whacking of Bob Sanders et. al. and subsequent hiring of Dom Capers (noted architect of the Steelers "Blitzburgh" defense of the early 90's which leveraged the zone blitz to unprecedented effectiveness), many fans believed that signing some big name free agents was imperative to ease the pain that many teams experience when switching a defensive scheme.
When TT did not comply with the wishes of many fans this past week, his approval rating took a nosedive highly reminiscent of GW's partway through his second term as president, and now there are desperate calls for his removal and accusations that TT has failed to put any stamp on the team.
While I'm all for spirited debate, I also believe in examining and weighing the facts when deciding what side of the fire/keep TT issue, and the clamor for regime change at our GM spot would need to be founded on some pretty damning evidence for me to join in. So I did some homework about what, if any, impact TT has had on the current Packer roster. This is what I learned.
Check out http://www.packers.com/team/how_built/
WR Donald Driver (drafted Packers, 7th round - not TT)
TE Donald Lee (signed, FA, Dolphins, TT)
LT Chad Clifton (drafted, Packers, 2nd round- not TT)
LG Darryn Collegde (drafted, Packers, 2nd Round, TT)
C Scott Wells (drafted, Packers, 7th round I think, not TT)
RG Jason Spitz (drafted, Packers, 3rd round, TT)
RT Mark Tauscher (drafted, 7th round, not TT)
WR Greg Jennings (drafted, 2nd round, TT)
QB Aaron Rodgers (drafted, 1st round, TT)
FB Korey Hall (drafted, 6th round, TT)
RB Ryan Grant (trade, TT)
Of the 4 players on offense not drafted by TT, he extended Driver and Wells.
Defense (some of this is guesswork, as we don't know precisely who is starting in the 3-4 this season)
CB Al Harris (trade, not TT)
SS Atari Bigby (FA, TT)
FS Nick Collins (draft, 2nd round, TT)
CB Charles Woodson, (FA, TT)
OLB Aaron Kampman (drafted, 5th round, not TT)
MLB Nick Barnett (drafted, 2nd round, not TT)
MLB AJ Hawk (drafted, 1st round, TT)
OLB Brandon Chillar (FA, TT), Jason Hunter (FA, TT), Brady Poppinga (drafted, 4th round, TT)
DE Johnny Jolly (drafted, 6th round, TT)
NT Ryan Pickett (FA, TT)
DE Cullen Jenkins (FA, not TT)
Kampman, Harris, Jenkins and Barnett were all extended by TT.
TT has played a primary role with over 85% of our starters in either drafting, signing or extending them.
The notion that TT's FA signings stop at the bargain bin with players like Marquand Manual and Frank Walker might be accurate in the sense that he doesn't often use FA, but it also ignores that two of our most consistent starters on defense came via big money FA signings in Pickett and Woodson.
I am still waiting for a comprehensive list of FA's that we refused to overpay for that have outperformed the deals we didn't feel they were worth signing. If anyone would like to provide me with an itemized list of names, positions, contract length and values and their production after signing, we would have grounds for a discussion, but people don't want debate- they want a lynching on purely opinionated or emotional bases.
Whether we have pro bowlers at every position drafted by TT (which seems to be the standard being applied to our team but no one else's), the roster was remade. Over 65% of our roster has TT's handprints on it, and we remain in good position going forward to make a variety of moves.
I am firmly in the camp that if we're not positioned for an extended run of contention at the end of this year that TT will not have done the job that was expected when he landed on the ground four years ago, and that we need someone to come in and add some extra punch to the sound approach taken to date.
I am also firmly in the camp that says that there's enough evidence that good things can come from this roster in the coming season that abandoning ship and whacking the GM and HC is a foolhardy thing to do given the development of players on the roster.Which brings me to my second issue for this post: what criteria are the fans calling for Thompson's ouster using as their measuring stick, and can it be legitimately applied to rosters of teams considered to be yearly contenders?
Some have suggested that just because a player starts for the Packers doesn't necessarily make them a good or impact player in the NFL. I think if we're going to use this as a measure of quality players, I'm OK with that so long as the same measure is applied to other teams' rosters too.
There are plenty of players on playoff teams' rosters that are starting that don't necessarily translate to impact for their own team OR to being an immediate impact for other teams either.
Take the Steelers. Ryan Clark is a starter at safety for them, but he's not an impact player, and even though he may start for another team, he's not necessarily going to have greater impact on another roster either, because that's not his skill set- he's a steady, consistent player who allows other players for the Steelers to play to their strengths because they don't have to worry about him doing his job.
You can apply that same criteria to either of Pittsburgh's DE's, their entire OL, their fullback, and any of their WR's not named Holmes or Ward.
They have solid cornerbacks, but not lockdown guys. Polamalu is one of the top defenders in the league, Harrison is a passrushing force, Woodley is a fine compliment on the other side, and Farrior is steady in the middle. Hampton is a rock.
The rest of their guys are good players, not great ones.
One example I can think of right off the top of my head that is loaded with "impact" talent was last year's Cowboys. They had two safeties that have all pro talent (though neither of them ever played like it once last season), one of the most physically gifted corners in the league (Pacman), Ware on one edge killing teams, Greg Ellis posting career highs on the other edge. Ferguson is a rock in the middle.
But how many of those guys are impact players outside of that team? Maybe Ware. Ellis is effective because opposing offences can't double him AND Ware.
I guess part of my frustration with the current debate about our roster is that people seem to think that we should have a team with pro bowl candidates at every position, and there isn't a team in the league with talent like that (or, in the case of the Cowboys, it's a noncohesive unit that doesn't live up to the sum of its gifts).
I think that this team isn't dramatically flawed. I think that we need to make sure that our trenches are the strength of this team, because a lot of the other issues we have would take care of themselves if the lines were dictating the play on the field.
If our Oline is consistent and efficient, keeping Rodgers off his back and giving Ryan Grant and company a chance on most downs to make that one cut and hit it, we're a team that rushes in the top 10, even top 5. We just can't afford waiting until week 7 to get it together and deliver that kind of play.
If our Dline can gum up the opposing Oline and let out guys get one on one, I think we have personnel that can produce consistent pressure on the QB and keep Woodson and Collins near the top of the INT leaderboard.
My biggest concern isn't that we didn't pay a FOOLISH amount of money to bring in Chris Canty, because he's just one piece, and there are players than can deliver quality consistency at DE for a far more affordable price that lets us make moves in trades and resign key guys.
My biggest concern is that we use the full range of avenues available this offseason to strengthen those units and get these players ready to execute and win from week one onward. I happen to be fine with TT taking until training camp to make moves that brings in players to accomplish these goals.
It just seems like there are a ton of people who feel like it should all have been addressed in the first 72 hours of free agency, and that even if TT drafted pro bowl picks to fill three more spots on each side of the ball, many would still be complaining about the starters that WEREN'T pro bowl worthy.
In either case, I continue to watch the offseason unfold with great interest. Some teams improve dramatically through bold moves. Others improve because they leverage the talent already on their rosters through consistency with schemes and superb coaching. Here's hoping that the latter is very much the case for the Pack, and that we're treated to a couple of bold moves through the draft and trades that help vault the defense forward into the top 10.
Until next time, make mine with sauerkraut and beer mustard (my brat, that is)...
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
With the recent hiring of Dom Capers, one of the architects of the Pittsburgh "blitzburgh" 3-4 defense in the early 90's, the shift is on from the Packers base 4-3 defense to the 3-4, along with the requisite transition personnel wise to accommodate the move.
I'm a fairly regular poster over at the Packersnews.com message board, and I have to say that it's about time for me to walk away from the scene until we get a little closer to draft time.
We went through a pretty dry spell after packersnews.com whacked the phpBB based forum and moved to a content management system called pluck. A lot of the mainstays left altogether, and the board was overrun by newbies that pretty much either subscribed to one of two schools of thought:
1. Ted Thompson (TT in message board parlance) is a total incompetent and needs to be fired now
2. Everyone else here is an imbecile and can only understand ideas communicated in the most obtuse and insulting fashion possible
Thankfully the haters either burned out or wore out, and for a while we hit a pretty nice stride on the board with some intelligent, well informed debate with people with very disparate views about how things are being run kindling respectful connections with posters on the other side of their perspective.
And then it happened. The NFL's free agency period opened last Friday, and now we've been beset with a plethora of debbie downers who have never posted a word prior to last week flooding the board with calls for TT's head on a platter and negativity for everything Packers.
This kind of reminds me of what's happened after the first few days of free agency EVERY YEAR since Ted Thompson became GM of the team.
In some respects, I suppose the fresh crop of haters is like punxsutawney phil- a rite of the dreary winter before the post draft spring has a chance to thaw the pessimism and fans have a chance to grab hold of the hope that belongs to fans of every NFL team in late April- that the season still has to be played, and that this could be the year.
In the meantime, I guess some of us will need to endure the March doldrums of complaint about how TT didn't sign the biggest name free agents and how it all spells the eternal futility of the team to get to draft day and see what kind of additions we find to make things work and get back to contending for the Super Bowl.
Until it's April, I'll be going a little punxsutawney myself on the old packersnews.com message board until I can see my shadow in at least one ray of the sunshine of hope.
Make mine Packers!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Nova Scotia's teachers ratified a two year deal on Wednesday that was about as vanilla as they come. The main "victories" were:
- a 2.9% raise in each of the two years of the deal
- some nominal increases in a benefits package that was already one of the finest in the public sector in Nova Scotia for orthotics and treatment from chiropractors, naturopaths, homepaths, etc
- the addition of 12 weeks of adoption leave for teachers adopting school aged children (prior to this deal you only got adoption leave if the children you adopted were preschool age). This is a nice add, but not a major win by any stretch given the extremely low number of adoptions of this type in Nova Scotia.
- the addition of 12 weeks of topped up parental leave for a teacher who is the non-birth parent of a newborn whose spouse is not a teacher (which has the greatest implications for male teachers who represent the main source of incoome in a household whose non-teaching spouses/partners give birth)
Substitute teachers got nothing in the first year of the deal, but a $20 per day increase to the substitute flat rate to $160 per day, and a decrease in the time required to reach pay at salary scale from 31 consecutive teaching days in the same position to 21 consecutive days.
Some have opined that this represents a major victory, but they forget that less than two years ago Dennis Cochrane, the Deputy Minister of Education, made the rare admission to Nova Scotia's newspapers that substitute pay was laughable and definitely needed to be addressed if we hoped to keep motivated and capable substitutes working in our province.
The NSTU failed to include in our asking package our standing policy of three years to seek to have substitute pay tied to the bottom most rung of the salary scale to end, once and for all, the glaring gap between the gains won by "regular" teachers in negotiations and the far lesser gains won for substitutes.
Had we included this item in negotiations and won, substitute daily pay would have looked like this.
The new starting salary for a first year teacher in the new agreement is slightly more than $47,000 per year. The NSTU policy seeks to have substitutes paid the first year salary divided by either 261 days (the number of days in a school year, including weekends, holidays and professional days) or 195 days (the number of days teachers work during the school year).
At 1/195 of a first year salary, substitutes would have been paid $241 per day. At 1/261 of a first year salary, substitutes would have been paid $180 and change per day.
In New Brunswick, substitute teachers are not required to have teaching certificates, and thus, are not paid in a manner reflective of teaching certification.
In Nova Scotia, substitute teachers MUST hold a valid teaching certificate, which means that they are every bit as qualifed to teach as their full time counterparts. It also means that they have at LEAST 5 years of university education to finance, and their daily pay does not consider the huge debt loads many new graduates must incur to get teaching training in Nova Scotia, the most costly teacher training in all of Canada.
The failure of the NSTU to make tying substitute pay to the salary scale, as their policy states that the provincial economic welfare committee is to seek in negotiations, is unacceptable and weakkneed. It ensures NS substitutes maintain their position behind their counterparts across the country in terms of daily rate and time to salary scale, however improved that position may be.
The national average for time to pay at salary scale for substitute teachers is 12.5 days retroactive. NS substitutes now need 21 days consecutively without retroactive pay, despite the fact that many substitutes do the work of the regular teacher from day one. They have a legitimate case for suffrage on their hands, and one the NSTU, if it had a moral bone in its spine, would be shouting from the rooftops about.
This is a deal of teeny wins. We asked for little, and got little, and now we're acting like we won much.
This is the second contract in a row of standing still on every major issue facing teachers, particularly the issues facing early career teachers and substitutes which continue to go blatantly ignored by asking packages.
The base pay for teachers may have increased, which is good, but there's STILL no framework for long term substitute service to qualify teachers for full contract status and benefits in the manner that exists in the vast majority of comparable teaching jurisdictions across the country. If there's no way to get a term contract so that you gain a foothold in the system so you can be paid according to the new salary scale, of what real benefit is the new salary scale to the thousands of early career teachers that will never see a paycheck on salary with benefits and rehire priority?
The NSTU is ever more semblant of the NDP under Audrey McLaughlin and Alexa McDonough- the party shrank in influence and relevance on a national scale and in size in parliament under their watch, but it won more moral victories than it ever had before under their watch.
I hope Nova Scotia's teachers wake up and realize that our strategy in negotiations isn't working and make it clear in the next presidential election that change is needed. Someone needs to aim higher than where we were in 1993 when setting goals for negotiations. The rest of the country has moved far past those measures- it appears we're happy just to get back to the good old days.
So I've thought long and hard about what I should be doing to make this blog a consistent and engaging read, because posting as regularly as I have so far is hardly a recipe for retaining readership.
In thinking, I realized that you're best off blogging about things you're either passionate or knowledgeable about, so I tried to boil down the essence of this blog to a few things that fit that bill for me.
After all that thinking, here's what I feel like I know enough about to write an informed and engaging blog:
- My faith journey with and through the local church
- The Green Bay Packers
- Canadian politics
I hope you tune in as I work to establish rhythm and identity here and chime in with your thoughts. Those comments are fuel to the blogging soul, so fire away.
The stream flows again...