Sunday, January 27, 2008

Count your blessings

It's always colder somewhere else; I always hear the weather in Cambridge Bay and thank the Lord I don't live there, but here in YK it is -35 right now, as it has been all day. With the wind chill it's -44. The forecast is for the temperature to remain basically unchanged (perhaps dropping a little) for the rest of the week. (For comparison, it's -32 in Cam Bay, but with the wind chill it's -52. Count your blessings).

It was cold enough this morning that when I walked next door to the church building, I arrived the same time as Doug Ashby. He put his key in before I got mine out, then turned the key and snapped it right off. (At -35 or so, things like that happen.) So, now what? The rest of the music team was arriving, so I got into a warm vehicle to wait developments. Doug drove home and came back with a screwdriver, hammer, heat gun, etc. He ended up driving the screwdriver into the broken key and then turning it. The lock is ruined, but at least we got in. I brought back a bicycle chain and lock after service, and I think they were planning on looping it through the outer door and locking it that way. (Actually anyone who's trying to break in at -35, probably needs to get in).

The temperature dropped really quite suddenly. Yesterday morning it was only -16, and Lloyd had gone out snowmobiling with a friend and her two kids. He had his new snowmobile, bought just this fall, and the older one. However, the new one seized up, and had to be towed back to town, where he could load it on a trailer and drop it back off at the dealership. He's put less than 100 km on it since he bought it, and he's not very happy about the whole thing. By afternoon, the temperature had dropped to -28, and by nightfall it was -30. It's supposed to be -40 tonight.

The new semester starts tomorrow so I've been busy doing up attendance sheets and making sure I have everything ready. I probably need to do another hour or so, but got tired of it, and left the computer to start to make bread instead. I'll have to get back to work at it soon, but I needed a break.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Mission

I have felt for several years that one of my main missions in life is to help others to be the best they can be. That's what I think I do as a teacher, as a mother, as a christian. Sometimes I do it a lot better than others times. Sometimes things work together to allow me to be a better servant that way than other times.

That's why I'm excited about one of the classes I'm teaching this coming semester. I teach a course on personal wellness for the students in Nursing Access and Social Work Access. In this course, students have to set a personal wellness goal. We go through all the steps involved in setting goals, then about 1/3 of the course is following through on their goal, making an oral report at midterm, doing reflective journal entries and a final reflective essay, etc. About 1/3 of the course is talking about the elements important for wellness: nutrition and diet, exercise, dealing with stress effectively, etc. The final third of the class (for the nursing access students) is wellness issues in the NWT; where we talk about addictions (smoking, drinking and drugs), STI's (they used to be called STD's) and other communicable diseases, TB, diabetes, etc. The Social Work Access students get an introduction to Social Work (by different instructors) for that third of the course.

What makes me excited about this is that it is so seldom that people get direct instruction and support on how to make positive changes in their lives. That they also get credit for it is a bonus (and for many of them, the only reason that they stick with it). Now this semester I'll also be doing some upgrading in the Trades Access program. When I was visiting with the head of that program, I was mentioning this course, and she was intruiged, and may want me to develop something for Trades Access as well. It wouldn't be the same course, but would have a number of the same elements, such as setting a personal wellness goal and elements important for wellness. This is also very exciting for me. It may happen this semester, but it might have to wait until next fall, as well.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weird Winter Weather

As we were lying in bed listening to the weather on the radio across the NWT, the announcer stated that they were having a chinook up on the north coast. Sure enough, the temperature was 0 in Inuvik and +4 in Tsigiitchic (just try to pronounce that one! - it's Sigachick). Regional norms are between -23 and -32, which is what we're having. It's -24 out right now here in sunny YK.

A few weeks ago when Rose was home from Western, we attempted to take family pictures (again). We invited Walter to come and help us take the photos, as trying to use a timer just doesn't work as well as having another body doing it. They did much better than last time, although Bram did try to do the typical boy thing and make some strange faces. I try to post some photos.

Bram had a field trip on Friday to the Taiga Water Lab. The homeschooling association arranges things like this and I'm grateful. We don't participate in their activities (like regular skating twice a week) as much as we should, and I had two appointments Friday morning, so had to arrange for Bram to catch a ride with someone, but he was able to go.
I've talked to Rose a couple times on the phone this week. She seems to think she's left both the power cord for her laptop and her math text and binder here in YK. We can't seem to see anything she's left behind (aside from some dirty clothes). She was writing finals this week, so I'd like to phone and see how she's feeling about them.
I have no classes this coming week as it's instructor marking days and interviews. New classes start a week Monday. I'm not ready for them yet, so it's a good thing I have a week off to prepare.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Think warm thoughts

OK, it was -40 this morning. That's cold! Today, mid-afternoon, it's -33, which frankly, isn't a lot warmer.

I got up bright and early this morning and wrote up a final exam for my class. I was too busy procrastinating yesterday to get it done; after all I had to play several more computer games, bake buns with Bram, etc. I've already got everything but the essay questions marked though, so am doing well. I have until next Thursday to get the final marks calculated. However, I also have to get the completed syllabus for next semester ready for three classes by the end of next week. One class is the same as last semester, so I just need to change the dates, and fix a few minor errors that I found when working through it. One class is similar to last year's, and so the main change I need to make is that I'm integrating part of the class with instruction by some other instructors, and am waiting for them to get back to me with their input for the syllabus and course outline. Class number three is totally new for me to be teaching, and I've written my boss requesting the curriculum, so that I can know what I'm supposed to be teaching, but haven't heard back yet. It doesn't actually start until half-way through second semester, so I have a bit of time yet. I talked a fair bit in one of my classes last semester, about learning what our different strengths were. One of mine is I work well under pressure (that's the more positive way to say that I'm a great procrastinator). Another is that I'm very flexible. That means that they can ask me to teach just about anything (at an introductory level), and I can develop a course and teach it.

I just heard back from the lead instructor for Yellowknife's Trades and Technology campus this morning. She had talked to me back in November about teaching some classes for her, but I hadn't heard anything for over 6 weeks, so assumed she had gotten something else arranged. No, she hasn't. She just wants me to teach part of the morning, for 17 days spread through three months, so it's workable, but I need to know more about what she wants me to teach. She told me English, Math and Science before, but those could possibly be fairly broad topics, so I'm hoping to meet with her soon to get it fleshed out before I have to start teaching it. The other campus is only about 8 blocks down the road, so I'll likely be hoofing it between campuses; teaching at one from 8:30 to 10:40 or so, then dashing down the road to teach at the main campus from 11 to 12. Then I rush home, check on Bram and his homeschooling, and then back to the main campus to teach at 3. It's a whole lot of running around, but I'm hopeful things will be better for next year.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Major Procrastination

I need to be making up a final exam for my students to write tomorrow. I have to do some major procrastination first though. So far I've played two games of Spider Solitaire (won them), two games of cribbage (won them) and one game of backgammon (lost it) on the computer. I've also got Bram started on his homework (studying for a health test), and practicing piano. I think I need to practice piano next. I will get down to writing up the exam, but it's a challenge.

Last night we rearranged our dining room. Now, we've never been able to eat in the dining room - and we still can't but I like the new arrangement. We have the piano and the electric keyboard facing each other, and a pod with three computer desks at the end of the electric keyboard. One computer desk holds a printer and a laptop, there's a second printer on top of the keyboard. The other two desks hold computers, so that Bram and I can both work at the same time. Behind the computers is a bookshelf covering one wall, and against the far wall is the freezer. Moving the computer desks around, we found an incredible amount of stuff underneath them. They're on casters, so that there's enough clearance for stuff to disappear, but not enough clearance to easily get it back out again. I found over 20 pencils (I think the dog steals them off the computer desk), about 15 pens, Bram's missing science text (that we had turned the house upside down looking for), about 10 hair elastics, and lots of detritus.

If you want to count your blessings, it is -32 out right now (2 pm), so that's probably the warmest it will get all day. I don't have to go back to school this afternoon, and am happy just to stay indoors.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winter - cold and dark

For most of the past week the temperature has hovered between -25 and -30. This morning we woke up to -11 and lots of fresh snow. We're all very thankful for the warmer weather.

Lloyd got written up in the newspaper this week. Last Friday he got stopped by By-law as he was driving his quad across the lake. He's been regularly plowing a path across the lake, and they stopped him to warn him that he was endangering snowmobilers by plowing the path and that he could be sued if anything happened. So he wrote a letter to the editor explaining that he wouldn't be plowing the path any longer - and the Yellowknife ended up interviewing him and having a 2/3 page spread about it. Then he got interviewed by CBC TV, and was on the TV Friday evening. Now he's been phoned by one of the city counsellors who mentioned that they're definitely discussing this on their next meeting. It's all been kind of interesting (especially since I've just been observing, not a participant). It's been more media attention than Lloyd cares to have, I believe.

I'm still quite busy with Arctic Winter Games. We had an empty store at the mall from Thursday through Saturday, and were recruiting more volunteers. We're up to about 1500, which sounds good until you realize that we're needing around 2500 volunteers, and the cut-off to volunteer is Feb 1. So the clock is ticking, and we're working hard.

School has resumed and we're counting down to term end finals. Rose is back at school and has gone to Eyebrow to visit Lloyd's family for the weekend. It's good that she's able to do that kind of thing. Bram's back to the homeschooling routine, and we're both back to piano practice. In fact, I should be practicing piano right now, but am busy procrastinating.

Lloyd and Bram are playing air hockey right now. This is a brutal game the way they play it, usually resulting in skinned and bleeding knuckles. However, they seem to enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year

We did have a quiet Christmas with Rose, Lloyd and Bram all sick, but improving. It took several more days before everyone was able to go to sleep without hacking coughs. It must have been the flu as I didn't get sick at all, and I was the only one who had a flu shot. I must say I'm grateful that I didn't have to get it.

Rose has been working most days at Reitman's. They've had some pretty good sales on too, but I don't think she's managed to spend all of her earnings yet. She had today off because she had a doctor's appt, but is working every other day until she leaves town.

This afternoon we had a winter picnic. I invited friends of mine, Raymond Grant and his wife, Kathleen. It was a balmy day, with a high of -12. We went skidooing; a first for Raymond, and Kathleen said she had never done it since she was a child. We also tried kicksledding, and Lloyd was out with the quad, cleaning snow of the walking trail. We made a fire on the ice and roasted hotdogs as well. Bram also did marshmallows. We all had fun and didn't get too cold.

Both Boxing Day and New Year's Day we got together with the Hobbs and Walter and Faye and Bob and Geela. Boxing Day it was at the Hobbs house while New Year's it was at Walter and Faye's. Each time we ate a lot (likely too much) and played scum. We all enjoyed ourselves both times.

Lloyd starts back to work tomorrow. It's been very nice having the time off between Christmas and New Year's. I'm not starting back to work officially until Monday, but I really need to do some lesson planning before then. Rose also has some homework to do before she goes back to school, and I intend to encourage Bram to do some homework as well. So I guess we're getting to the end of the holiday season.

One of the highlights of the holidays for me has been that Lorraine was given a Scrabble game for Christmas and we've played several games together. I do enjoy playing Scrabble, and it's good to to have someone to play with.