The Box Co.

Certified!

As of this day, July 6, 2011, I am officially certified with the Ontario College of Teachers.

Now I can take all my fancy book learnin’ and go teach in secondary schools. This is a good thing, since I already have a job.

Loathing Is Just Another Word for “I’m A Total Douche”

Brendon informed me recently that since some change was made in my Wordpress Installation, all of my password protected or private posts were visible to everyone. It was very deceiving, because they still had “Protected:” or “Private:” affixed to the start of the title itself, but it was all just a weak deception on the part of Wordpress to reveal all my deep and dark secrets. As I was going through them and re-adding passwords, I was able to review a lot of interesting little stories involving a past romantic relationship and a past living arrangement, both of which were described in very bitter or melodramatic terms.

I am amazed at how little any of that seems relevant at this point in my life.

Then, I stumbled across a post where I wrote very angrily about someone, and I thought to myself “Wow, I was a total asshole here”. I recall the post causing a tremendous conflict some time ago, and I recall leaving it on my blog (heavily concealed) as a reminder of the whole thing. As a read through the whole post again today, I thought to myself, “I cannot believe that I ever cared about any of this crap, or let this phase me. These are such non-issues. What the hell is wrong with me?”

I don’t feel like I behave this way anymore. In general, I consider myself to be a less angry person, and I try not to let minor conflicts agitate me anymore. This blog has certainly helped to put in perspective that I was quite a prick when I was younger (and maybe I still am, but just a little one*). I am profoundly disappointed with myself for the way that I acted back then, and I hope that anyone who I have ever offended by acting like a real asshole can forgive me.

Also, don’t bother looking up any of those private posts, as I have re-protected them (and now most of their titles are “Protected: Private: Protected: Post Title”). Thoroughly ridiculous.

*Feel free to make jokes about that line. I will not stop you.

Math Guy Problems

Started posting some math problems that I’m creating on the site. Just to see if I can create some cool math contest-like problems to give my students.

They are easy enough that you should be able to do them with any level of high school mathematics education (regardless of how much it has deteriorated over time), so feel free to give them a shot.

Achievement Unlocked

It seems like it might be time for a quick update that is not controversial by any stretch of the imagination.

On Friday, June 24th, Katie and I took a trip to Niagara Falls and on Saturday, June 25th, I asked her to marry me. This is a fairly exciting development in my life, and it has really been the culmination of a string of obscenely good luck that I have been having lately. Let me fill you in on the details. First, I get a job at UW for the summer without even really seeking it out. It just fell right in my lap. After that, two job postings at a private school appear. We both apply and both get interviews. I interview first, and I get offered a job the very next day. This is quite fortunate, because immediately following the job interview, I drove to Mississauga and purchased an engagement ring for Katie.

Now, the fact that they already offered a job to me makes Katie extremely nervous and erodes her confidence slightly. That being said, she still manages to go in to the school (on the same day that I am being given a tour of the facilities) and interviews like mad. Two weeks after my interview (on the very same day I am able to pick up the engagement ring), Katie receives a call offering her the other job. It worked out perfectly. The school is also a fabulous school. The facilities are so amazing that they literally melt my eyeballs right out of their sockets (but it is okay, they grew back) and the staff seem supernaturally intelligent (and quite humorous too, which I like).

The two of us have been to a department meeting together at the school already, and been given our teaching assignments. I am teaching Gr. 9 academic (2 sections), Gr. 11 university (1 section), Gr. 11 university/college (1 section), and Advanced Functions/Calculus and Vectors (2 sections). The school is non-semestered, but since Calculus and Vectors requires Advanced Functions as a pre-requisite, these two courses are treated as one super course that is taught throughout the whole year, with content from Advanced Functions coming first and Calculus and Vectors coming second. This is amazing for me because Geometry and Discrete Mathematics - a course long since obliterated by the “new curriculum” brought in by Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne - is the course that made me want to teach mathematics. Back in the good old days of my youth, it had a nice sprinkling of vectors and planes, mathematical proofs, and counting methods. Now, math students do not see proofs until they come to university, which is only doing them a disservice. But then, what do I know?

Anyway, Katie and I have found a place to live in Vaughan for the year. I’m going to buy us a nice big HDTV for our living room. Plus the engagement. So, yeah. Things are good.

That is my update for now. I’ve typed all of this while at work, because my current job has nothing for me to do. I’ve been tasked with typesetting the upcoming Gr. 9, 10, and 11 math contests, but it would seem that they underestimated my proficiency with LaTeX and with Canvas because I finished that lengthy assignment in less than 2 full days. I clearly need to decrease my work ethic…and then I will have to ramp it up again once I am teaching (since I have 5 “preps*” which exceeds a full teaching load I believe).

  • Preps refers to the number of unique classes that a teacher has to prepare for in their teaching career. Typically you have two “preps” for every one “spare**” that you have in your schedule so that you can - ideally - plan your lessons during your spares without having to take lesson planning home. They save that time for marking stuff, and boy do I use it (as I like to return marked material the very next day if possible). At the school I am teaching at, we are supposed to have 6 in-class periods and 2 spares, and of the in-class periods we should only have 4 preps.

** Spares refers to the periods in a school day where a teacher is not required to teach. In most schools, a teacher will still be “on call”, meaning that they will be required to cover another class to avoid calling in an occasional teacher (the PC term for substitute or supply teacher). In a nonsensical decision, sometimes “spares” are also referred to as “preps” by teachers, meaning that the sentence “I am going to prep my prep during my prep” is - apparently - a valid sentence in teacher lingo.

Anyway, that will suffice for now. I would very much like to get back into posting regular updates…but I feel like I am very negligent with my promises in that realm, so I will not commit to anything just yet.

  • J

Genderless Baby Nonsense

By now, I assume most people have heard of this.

It is a very bizarre issue and I cannot understand the media coverage it is getting, but what struck me the most from the letter written by the mother (included above) is in the final paragraph:

Storm has a sex which those close to him/her know and acknowledge. We don’t know yet about colour preferences or dress inclinations, but the idea that the whole world must know our baby’s sex strikes me as unhealthy and voyeuristic. This is what I know “” someday soon, Storm will have something to say about it and in the meantime, I’m just listening carefully. (Emphasis Added by me)

Now, maybe I’m just crazy, but I assume the global media cannot possibly hear about you not disclosing the gender of your child unless YOU made a big deal about not disclosing the gender of your child. I mean…reporters don’t just go trolling around maternity wards looking for a story. Odds are pretty solid that the mother made a huge fuss about this and was telling people left, right, and centre and is now wondering how it all got so out of control.

Anyway, I’d be curious to know what other people think in the comments. Surely I cannot be the only one shaking my head at these hippie parents…Jazz, Kio, and Storm? Say what?

Grand Theft Auto IV

During the recent RedCardGroup reunion podcast (which is somewhere on Brendon’s computer, slated for a release date of three or more weeks ago), I expressed my disappointment for Grand Theft Auto IV. I’d played through the core game a few months ago, and I was incredibly disappointed by the change to the traditional format of the series. Prior to Grand Theft Auto IV, I’d played Vice City, San Andreas, Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories, so I had experienced a substantial amount of the series and was looking forward to a next-gen upgrade and a story with dark humour and loads of classy film references.

However, somewhere between the GTA 3-era games and the GTA 4-era games, Rockstar seems to have lost a lot of the sense of fun, chaotic mayhem that their games used to embody. I have many fond memories of Vice City, and accomplishing missions in the most bizarre ways possible. There was one mission where your friend - Lance Vance - is being held hostage in the city dump inside of a large shed. You could drive into the dump, or you could take my strategy and hijack a military helicopter and crash it - missiles firing - into the doorway of that shed. It was chaotic, and ridiculous, but a lot of the fun as being overpowered and creative in a giant sandbox city.

I don’t view GTA IV as a sandbox game, because the creativity aspect has been tremendously stifled. In most missions, you are given a specific car to use, and if that car explodes, you fail. You cannot come to the mission prepared with a durable vehicle or a speedy vehicle. You must use what the game designers intended. Without the creativity aspect, the game tends to fall flat in many areas. Missions are very heavily scripted, which is occasionally exciting, but also frustrating.

Vehicles all handle so sluggishly and even piloting helicopters is a chore. The game definitely took more of a gun-focused gameplay style while abandoning the trademark driving style gameplay.

Since I made a lot of complaints in the podcast, I have played one of the DLC storylines: The Ballad of Gay Tony. The reason that I played it was because it looked most like Vice City. It certainly had a lot more epic moments and creative missions (though many were still restrictive), but the parachute aspect was kind of cool. The storyline was definitely satisfying.

Yet, with all the good changes that came with the Ballad of Gay Tony, the bad changes appeared alongside. Each mission in the Ballad of Gay Tony is scored based on how well you did against some unknown list of required actions in a mission. Some of them are as simple as completion time, but others include how enemies are killed. This stifles creativity extremely, and was a huge disappointment throughout the DLC. Even when I was satisfied with how awesome a mission was, when it told me that my completion statistic was 60%, it eroded all of the pride from the mission because I didn’t shoot enough people in the head, or didn’t duck at a specific time (this was actually a completion statistic in a mission).

If Grand Theft Auto continues to change in this fashion and have very specific mission objectives to be accomplished in a method that is scored, I will be very disappointed (and will probably stop buying those games or playing them altogether).

Also since the RCG podcast recording, I’ve had a chance to play and beat Pokemon White and rather than boring you with a long post, let me just say that the only good thing about this game is the fact that TMs can now be used indefinitely. Everything else is awful.