May 29, 2005

Out with the New, In with the Old

Well I may have a new job for September, but I have to get through all the responsibilities of the old one until July 22. Even though it is currently half-term break, I still have all these Year 7 reports to write (about 20 down and 35 to go) and I need to mark countless exercise books.

I am going to make some time for my family, especially with trans-Atlantic grandparents visiting grandchildren for the week. Tomorrow it is off to Aidan's favourite sort of attraction - a farm park. Of course as it is Bank Holiday Monday as well as half-term, the roads and the attractions should be teeming with the unwashed masses.

Posted by david at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2005


As I mentioned in recent comments, I went for another interview yesterday. It took more than a day for them to decide, but I got the job. And this time it isn't a temporary job covering for someone else (though I'm grateful to have had that). It is permanent.

Though it is in a state school, with a lot of comparative religion (and in this case a lot of Buddhism, about which I know nothing right now), I really like the Head of Department and think I will get along well there.

I also hope a lot of the kids are like the ones in the interview lesson. They were quite well-behaved, especially for Year 8s (7th graders).

It is also a good school by reputation and situated locally. In fact, it is the best state school in the city and the only one with more that 50% A*-C at GCSE. It is better than the LEA average and this LEA is ranked 41st out of 148.

Posted by david at 11:45 PM | Comments (5)

May 24, 2005

A Good Teacher

In July 2003, I noted the passing of the first teacher I really hated. Today, in exactly the same manner as before, I came across the death of one of my favourite teachers.

Coach DeBruin's reputation preceded him when I moved from Madison Elementary to Travis Junior High. I'm not sure why he was so famous. It may have been that he was a firm disciplinarian - these were, after all, the days when a teacher could take unruliness in their own hands - or more specifically the unruly in one hand and a slim piece of wood in the other. Anyhow, I entered 7th grade science with a certain fear and trepidation.

I later learned that he enhanced his reputation by sometimes taking a miscreant into the hallway and then striking the paddle sharply against the sole of his shoe - resulting in a gunshot-like rapport heard throughout the Science Building.

Coach DeBruin didn't teach PE. He coached football and taught Athletics - the PE that football, basketball, and other jocks took between sports seasons. That I didn't have him as a PE teacher no doubt kept him in my good books, though no doubt the administration didn't take this into consideration when they put together his teaching timetable.

He was always approachable. I was quite into the sciences in my youth and especially into the creation-evolution debate. As far as I remember Coach DeBruin was theistic evolutionist. I'm sure I pelted him with a steady stream of questions to prise from him his views and disagree with them - a tactic which I was rapidly developing into a most annoying habit by that time. He always treated my questions and views with respect. It has been so long ago (29 years now) that I can't even remember any specifics - just lasting impressions.

I hope that 29 years from now - though hopefully I won't be dead - at least some of my students will have a positive lasting impression of their time under my tutelage.

Coach DeBruin briefly left teaching for industry, but within a couple of years he was back. I guess it was just in his blood.

I wonder how many teachers today were inspired by his example.

Tommy DeBruin was 68 when he died last week. May his memory be eternal.

Posted by david at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2005

Too Catholic

While I'm in the middle of completing another job application, I should mention that I didn't get the job I went for on Thursday. What a strange experience. I was gutted.

In the Tuesday interviews I was clearly the underdog. On Thursday, I can't see how I could have been anything other than the front-runner. The other candidate was a very nice man, but I couldn't understand most of what he said. How the Year 9s he taught managed to do so, I don't know.

I took my lesson from Tuesday - the one rated Excellent - and following the advice of the headteacher from the Tuesday school, I used it. I did an even better job of it, despite having no prep time in the classroom and a dodgy connection from my laptop to the projector that was being worked on even while the students were being ushered into the classroom.

I even had the harder group to teach. They mixed up classes to make the playing field more level, but he had the top-set boys and the second set girls, while I had the reverse. Second set boys are inherently less well behaved that top set. Nonetheless, I got them involved and it was still a better lesson than last time.

In the very brief debrief I got from the Head of Department - since the Headteacher left the building after they appointed the other bloke - the poor quality of the lesson was sited as one of the reasons I didn't get the job. The observers (two of them, each watching half of the lesson) were not a part of the interview panel, but submitted an observation sheet. They gave it a 3 - Satisfactory - on the 1 to 5 scale. I was shocked.

Another reason given was that I didn't say enough in the interview about other religions. I was only given one question, which was whether I agreed with Pope John Paul when he said that Islam was a deficient religion. At a Catholic school I thought it would be safe to agree with the Holy Father. Wrong. While giving all the usual deference to other religions - the standard stuff about how they have elements of truth - I said that The Truth is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Too radical, I suppose.

I add insult to injury, I spoke to my Catholic priest reference for both jobs today. He had spoken to the Tuesday school on Friday and found out that I hadn't gotten the job. They told him I was an outstanding teacher. When he asked why they didn't give me the job, they said, "Well, the other candidate was local (she wasn't - but she was Welsh) and was looking to move back to the area."

Posted by david at 12:00 AM | Comments (5)

May 22, 2005

Easily Forgotten

Of all the blogs I read, I have only come across one meta-blogged link to the current turmoil in Uzbekistan. I wondered why that is and I started looking for American news stories about the trouble in the Central Asian republic. Therein may be the answer.

I found one story on and nothing on the website of the other major television networks. I checked the AP wire link from the Indianapolis Star. I looked at the LA Times and the Chicago Sun-Times. And given the policy of the New York Times, I must surmise that news from Uzbekistan is not fit to print.

I'm glad that the British press hasn't missed this. It has been covered extensively by the BBC, ITN, and the quality (as opposed to tabloid) newspapers.

Am I the only American concerned about this? A chief US/UK ally in Central Asia has troops gun down 600 civilian protesters and no one is saying anything? This really is an exposé of how governments choose the tin-pot dictators they support and overthrow. The more quiet the US and British governments remain about Karimov, the more rapidly their moral high ground on Iraq sinks into a squishy mire of wet bovine excrement.

Give us an airbase to bomb the living crap out of the Taliban and we won't say anything about heavy machine gun fire on women and children. Let us use your facilities to carry out torture illegal under our own laws and we will kiss your sweet posterior.

I have long said that Karimov would be the hardest nut to crack in Central Asia - mostly because no one is willing to crack his nuts.

Posted by david at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2005

All in a Weekend's Work

It has gotten to where I only have time to write on the weekend and now I don't even have that. I have about 60 exercise books to mark and 50 Year 7 reports to write. Teaching isn't one of those jobs where you can just go to work at 7:00, get abused by teenagers all day, and get home by 6:30. If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it. No, we are expected to put in a couple of hours a night and a few on the weekend - otherwise where's the 60-hour week? Can't have teachers being slackers. After all, I get paid within £5,000 of the national average salary. If I meet my performance management targets, I might even earn the national average for a statutory 37-hour-a week job within the next five years!

It is also the parish mid-year meeting today, which includes an hour drive each way.

I need to complete more job applications (including the creation of lengthy why-you-really-should-give-me-this-job-no-really-honest-really letters), because I didn't get the job on Thursday either (seems having English as a first language and agreeing with the views of the Pope at a Catholic school were a bit of a disadvantage, but maybe more on that latter).

I'm actually writing this while I'm shovelling Shreddies into the human hoover that is Abigail.

Well, Abby's done, so I suppose I am too.

Posted by david at 08:18 AM | Comments (1)

May 20, 2005

It's Been a Few Years Now

Today is the 1680th anniversary of the opening of the First Council of Nicea.

Posted by david at 09:00 PM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2005

Duty to Die

The Government is backing the General Medical Council in an appeal from a High Court (that's a trial court in this country) ruling that said patients have a right to artificial nutrition or hydration if they ask for it.

No way, say the GMC and the Health Secretary. Can't afford it. If everyone started wanting to stay alive with a little food and water, it would be a "crippling waster of resources". That's our Government. I kid you not.

The Government said, as published in The Times, "that if that right were established, patients could demand other life-prolonging treatments. The department argues that this will create a culture in which patients request treatments 'no matter how untested, inappropriate or expensive, regardless of doctors’ views'."

In other words, if you give them a little water, they are gonna start wanting medicine.

It brings home the lessons I have been teaching to my Year 9s. We have been talking about Matthew 25 and the Sheep and the Goats. "I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink...".

Are Government ministers who are pushing this policy endangering their eternal souls? I bet the thought hasn't even crossed their collective minds.

Posted by david at 02:06 AM | Comments (1)

May 17, 2005


I went for an interview today. I came in second. There were only two candidates.

Actually, if the post-interview debrief was honest - and I have no reason to believe it wasn't - I taught a better sample lesson. The headteacher told me that if I could use that lesson again in another interview situation, I should. The observers rated it as a 1 (Excellent) on the Ofsted scale of 1 to 5.

I lost out in the previous experience department when it came to particular things they wanted.

I actually think the successful candidate will fit the department better. She seem to hit it off very well with the head of the department. Also the head of the department doesn't like Benedict XVI. At a Catholic school.

Oh well. I have another interview on Thursday.

Posted by david at 09:53 PM | Comments (2)

May 15, 2005

He Told Us So

The protest has moved from Andijan to Karasu as the turmoil in Uzbekistan continues.

Now, all of a sudden, the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has told the BBC there had been "a clear abuse of human rights" in Uzbekistan. The Beeb report that he said the situation was "serious" and called for more transparency from the Uzbek government.

This is rich. This is the same Jack Straw who recalled Craig Murray from Tashkent as the British ambassador. Why? Because he kept talking about human rights abuses. It was embarrassing to expose such an important ally.

It appears that the CIA have been using Uzbekistan as a convenient location for torturing prisoners beyond the limits of US law, to squeeze out that little extra bit of information. Now you can't really slam the Uzbek dictatorship for torture if you are using their facilities and techniques.

No, this situation is going to be a bit sticky. I could be that the US and UK will suddenly get collective amnesia and forget their close ties to Karimov, just like they did with Saddam Hussein. However, since he hasn't precipitated an international crisis like the first Gulf War, if it ever comes down to it, I would expect them to hustle him out of the country to a safe location to live the remainder of his days in peace. Much more peace than the thousands he has tortured and killed - such as the ones he has boiled alive.

Islam Karimov is a nasty piece of work. Some of is knew this already. Now the world at large is finding out.

Posted by david at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2005

Rivers of Blood

It's kicking off again. More trouble in Central Asia. But this is not Kyrgyzstan and the president hasn't made himself scarce.

This is Uzbekistan and the president is Islam Karimov, the hardest of the Central Asian hardmen. He's already had troops fire indescriminately into protesting crowds, killing hundreds. And he's getting away with it. Just like he's gotten away with human rights abuses during his entire iron-fisted rule on the region's most populous country.

He has the right friends. He is tight with both Vladimir Putin and George Bush. Sitting on the border with Afghanistan, he was a chief ally in the Afghan invasion, providing a key airbase. Putin already has a high tolerance of autocracy and human rights abuse.

Karimov is trying to say that he is fighting Islamic extremists. Ten thousand Islamic extremists just in Andijan- including women and children? Does he think that the rest of the world - outside the psychological repression of his regime and the tight control of his news media - really buys this? Okay, maybe a few folks at Little Green Footballs and JihadWatch.

There will be a lot more bloodshed in Uzbekistan. This will be no Rose, Orange, or Tulip Revolution. It may not be a revolution at all.

Posted by david at 10:27 PM | Comments (0)

It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

That's what Abby did during much of her birthday party today. She's been fussy the last few days thanks to infections in both ears.

We had quite a crowd at our tiny place. Grandparents, godparents, and other various friends and family. Eight kids aged 3 years down to 3 months. Loads of food on the barbie. Loads of desserts. All done by Mrs H.

As best I remember, I had three chicken kebabs, a Chinese chicken thigh, pasta, garlic bread, salad, two pieces of Raspberry Royal (contains raspberry Angel Delight, double cream, swiss roll, gelatin, with raspberries mixed in and on top), one piece of cherry cream pie (sweet condensed milk, double cream, lemon juice, and a can of cherry pie filling in a cheesecake-type base), and one piece of white chocolate pie (white chocolate, marshmallows, dream topping, pecans, and glace cherries), and one piece of birthday cake (shaped and decorated as a butterfly).

I didn't eat any salmon, burgers, sausages, small cakes, party rings, or fruit salad -- though I managed a bit of the fruit salad a little while ago before Mrs H finished it off.

I'm still not hungry. I think I can fit in another piece of pie before bed, though.

Posted by david at 09:24 PM | Comments (1)

May 12, 2005


Could it be that Year 8 reports are done? Now I have to do Year 7 reports...

Posted by david at 02:29 AM | Comments (2)

May 11, 2005

Happy Birthday

Today is Abby's first birthday.

It is hard to believe that one year ago right now Mrs H was in the middle of a c-section and we were about to get a surprise as Edwin Dean was nowhere to be found.

Posted by david at 07:32 PM | Comments (3)

May 07, 2005

Shuffling the Same Deck

Tony has rearranged the contents of his cabinet. Nothing significant to report. Expect more of the same.

The media try to make a lot of the anti-war sentiment as a cause for Labour's reduced majority. The only problem with this is that the Tories supported the war and did not make it an election issue. Michael Howard tried a few times to say he would not have supported it had he known there were no WMD, but in fact this is unlikely.

Everyone except George Galloway wanted to get rid of Saddam and if Coalition troops had been able to get in and get out in a few weeks, nobody would have said anything. People aren't opposed to the war per se, they are opposed to still having troops in Iraq so long after the fact.

Posted by david at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

Always the Bridemaid

Last night Hooterville United remained true to form and lost the second, and home, leg of the Conference playoff semi-final. They work hard all season, get into the playoffs, and give it away again.

I'm glad I resisted the temptation to shell out £12 or however much it was for a ticket.

I stayed home and slept off my election watch.

Posted by david at 09:36 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2005

Time For Bed

The inevitable has happened. Labour now have in excess of 324 seats in the House of Commons and will form the next Government. The final results will trickle in over the next few hours, but I can sleep a couple of hours before returning to work.

The Tories have one two seats in Wales, including that of Mrs H's family. It's good to see some blue on the principality map for the first time since 1992.

Posted by david at 04:41 AM | Comments (0)

Many Happy Returns

At the moment, the current seat count (498 of 646 declared and it changes moment by moment) is 314 for Labour, 130 Conservative, 43 Liberal Democrat. Even though Labour will form the next Government (it takes 324 to win), this has been a good night for the Tories.

I am most happy about a Tory loss, however. In our local constituency, the mildy pro-choice Lib-Dem MP has kept his seat against the very pro-choice Tory candidate. The incumbent is a very good constituency MP who has helped us personally. He is a local boy done good. The Tory is a smug Londoner with a second home out in the country. Back when I was publicity officer and Mrs H was campaigns officer for Hooterville LIFE, our MP was happy to answer our questionnaire and visit our group, and appreciated our work even if he didn't entirely agree with our views. Mrs Snooty refused to have anything to do with us.

I was sorry that my friend Peter Garrett, running as the Tory candidate in Liverpool, West Derby didn't win, but it was quite a safe Labour seat. He only got 8.4% of the vote, while the Labour candidate got 62.8%. He did increase the Tory vote in the constituency by 0.4%.

Hyndburn, the constituency where I wore off a lot of shoe leather in 1992 campaigning for the Tory MP for whom I had worked as a intern, which was won by Labour at that election, has been held again by one of Tony's Deputy Whips. I have met the Tory candidate there when he campaigned for Peter Garrett in a by-election in Preston a few of years ago. He is James Mawdesley, who spent time in prison in Burma for illegally distributing from democracy literature.

And one of the big stories of the has to be Labour losing its safest seat in Wales - a principality that is overwhelming Labour. Blaenau (pronounced Bly'-nuh) Gwent had a 19,000 Labour majority. Then the national party machine presented a female-only shortlist of candidates to the local party. The good voters of Blaenau were not about to be told what to do. The Labour candidate was defeated and the former Labour member of the Welsh Assembly who ran as an independent won a majority of over 9,000.

Posted by david at 04:12 AM | Comments (0)

The Cardinalmobile

Now that Benedict XVI has use of the Popemoblie for the rest of his life, he has no need for a Volkswagen Golf.

His old car has been sold on eBay.

I doubt that most of my readers could have afforded the final price. It went for €188,938.88 (approx. $244,562.47).

Posted by david at 01:49 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

Exit Polls

The BBC/ITV exit poll says there will be a Labour majority of just 66. We can hope. The first constituency should declare in the next couple of minutes. Sunderland South is trying to break their record of 43 minutes. They have declared first for the last three elections.

Posted by david at 10:47 PM | Comments (0)

Election Day

The polls close in 30 minutes. We will then find out by what margin Labour has won a third term to further dismantle the Constitution.

My projection: a margin of less than 100 seats, but not much less - a majority in the 90s. But what do I know?

Posted by david at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2005

Another Memory Eternal

Today is the first anniversary of the death of Mrs H's very beloved grandfather.

As is the Orthodox custom, your prayers for the peaceful repose of Edwin are much appreciated.

May Grampy's memory be eternal.

Posted by david at 03:06 AM | Comments (1)

May 03, 2005


I have been marking Year 10 coursework on abortion until my eyes are more blurred than clear.

And I still have more to go.

Posted by david at 11:59 AM | Comments (2)

May 02, 2005

Memory Eternal

I don't think it's like this anymore. Used to be, no one under 12 was allowed upstairs in the hospital. At 5, I was very much under 12. I can still remember being taken up to the nursery area and looking through the glass. It was May 1969.

Today my brother would have turned 36.

May his memory be eternal.

Posted by david at 11:10 PM | Comments (3)

Shocking Trivia

While trying to find out more about the US Vice-Presidential mansion, I came across the rather stunning fact that in the year 2000, the electricity bill was $135,300.

Because the 33-room white brick Victorian house is on the grounds of the US Naval Observatory, the cost is split between the Navy and the Vice-President's budget.

Posted by david at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2005

Ups and Downs

I have been known to follow football (that's soccer to you lot in America) more attentively than this past season. I could be something to do with the work and stress of the teaching year. It could be the disapointment of last year's Conference Playoffs.

So here we are at the end of the season and Hooterville United once again finish second in the Conference, which means the playoffs instead of automatic promotion. The team who last year were given the ticket to the playoff final by the incompetent ref are once again in the bracket, but this time pitted in the semis against Carlisle United. Will Hooterville's Bulls make in back into the Football League for the first time since 1997? Don't hold your breath.

The first team I ever supported in English football used to be a powerhouse of the old First Division (now the Premier League). In the glory days of the late 1970s, they were European Cup winners. I once visited their ground and had lunch with the chairman. Yesterday, Nottingham Forest were mathematically relegated to what is now called the Coca-Cola Footbal League One, more recently Division Two, or the old Division Three. So a first-tier stadium is the home to a third-tier team. Will they ever return to top-flight football? Don't hold your breath.

Posted by david at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)


One of the casualties of living in the middle of nowhere with small children is Holy Week. We didn't make it to any services this year.

Formerly our community had a Service of Anointing on Holy Wednesday, but now that we are borrowing a Greek church it would have been their Greek-language service. The service would not have been shortened and it starts after the kids' bedtime. And it is an hour away.

In the past I've gone to Shrewsbury for Great Friday, but I haven't had to drive nearly an hour home from work and then an hour and a half to church. And then turn around and do the same 90 minutes each way the next night. And of course it is out of the question for the kids, so it out of the question for Mrs H.

Last night I had planned to go to Shrewsbury on my own for the Pachal Liturgy. I went last year and it was a marvelous experience. We even went to Tesco and got a couple of gateaux for me to take for the feast. I was already quite tired, an then I fell asleep in the chair and woke up too late too make the journey to get there for 11:30.

Well, at least I can eat meat without guilt now.

Christ is Risen!

Posted by david at 11:26 AM | Comments (8)