Sunday, November 4, 2012

All Saints Day - Gone but Not Forgotten

As is my usual habit as a blogger, several months have passed since I last posted anything but I could not let this one pass me by. On the 1st of November, many nations across the world celebrate All Saints Day, among them, my new home Poland has a national holiday and the occasion is one of National momentum. With the exception of the main roads between cities as relatives travel to distant graves and the local streets around any cemetery, the rest of the streets are deserted. Shops are closed and what seems like the entire population of Poland can be found filling cemeteries to bursting point as crowds of people queue, jostle and shuffle their way through the gates of their chosen necropolis. Signs are erected across the city directing travelers to the different cemeteries around the city. Special buses and trams are laid on and streets surrounding each cemetery are transformed into car parks manned by eager members of the Scout movement directing drivers to free spaces and collecting fees to spend on candles and flowers for neglected and unattended graves that they will later tidy and tend to. This was the first year I was able to witness this first-hand having previously been teaching in Turkey at this point in the year. So it was with a sense of real occasion this year that along with my Wife, Mother in-law, Brother in-law and Sister in-law that I made the pilgrimage to the final resting place of hundreds of Poles to lay flowers and light candle lanterns in their memory. It was particularly poignant this year given that my Wife's uncle had been laid to rest in the cemetery we visited only a couple of weeks previously. The sight that met my eyes when we arrived however, I could never have imagined. Thousands of people filled the cemetery to capacity laying flowers and lighting candles at not only the graves of their own loved ones but those of famous people, celebrities, authors, poets, academics, sportsmen and women and at memorials to events such as the Smolensk plane crash that claimed the lives of 96 passengers and crew among them the President of Poland and his Wife as well as many senior politicians and heads of the armed forces. There is a tradition that says that no grave shall left without recognition so it is common for those who are cleaning and decorating the grave of their relatives to also lend a little care to neglected and unattended graves of their neighbours and lighting a candle in memorium
If the daytime had amazed me, then the night time blew me away completely. Darkness brings out the true beauty of the candle lanterns that adorn every grave in the cemetery. People move among the graves putting candles on those that have none and those that they wish to honour. The graves of many of Poland's famous or celebrated are often so covered that candles cover half of the walkways around and the heat from hundreds of candles wards off the chill of the November night. The smell is one I will always remember. Thousands and thousands of candles burning has a unique scent and their collective glow lights even the darkest corners.
I feel honourd to have been part of this annual event and I know that next year I too will be amongst those seeking out the grave of those famous Poles i would like to honour as well as wandering to quiet deserted corners to light a candle in memory of someone I do not know, have never met yet feel the need to let them know that they are remembered. I will seek out the resting place of soldiers who died too young to have known anything of a life well lived and I will re-light candles on graves whose flame ha been snatched away by the wind. At some point late in the evening, I will let go of my wife's hand and with a candle lantern firmly in my grasp, slip un-noticed into a dark corner. I will kneel at an unattended neglected grave and clear a place in the fallen leaves to stand my candle and there I will light it and pray to the memory of those in my family that are no longer with us and especially I will remember my Mum.

Monday, June 11, 2012

There are now only 5 days remaining until I leave Turkey with my wife Marta and travel to Warsaw in Poland to begin the next stage of our life together. There seems to be a never ending list of things to do and as fast as one 'ToDo' is crossed off the list, three more are added.
Emotions are all over the place and everyone we meet asks us the same questions. "Are you happy to be leaving?" The answer is also always the same, "Yes and No" Yes because it is the start of the next great adventure in life and No because for me, nine years of my life in Turkey are coming to an end and for Marta, it is five years. we have a good life here and the new is always the uncertain but overall, Yes, we are excited to be leaving and starting life in our new house close to Warsaw.
It seems appropriate to add a video here of one of my favourite songs and over the next few days/weeks/months, I will grow this blog into a record of my new life in Poland.
Good Bye Turkey and thank you for everything.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Mobile Operators in Poland. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

One of the things I have been looking into in anticipation of my moving to Warsaw is which mobile operator to choose from. As in most countries there are a few choices and each seems to offer both similar and different products for Voice, SMS and Data usage.
So, how to choose? Usually there are two ways of doing this. First you can go through extensive research and then flip a coin to decide or secondly, my preferred option, you can find someone else's research.
Luckily, thanks largely to Mr. Google and some Polish forums I scan regularly, I found a post with not only opinion but some technical data to support the research. The link is here --->> Choosing a Mobile Operator in Poland

I will report back in a few weeks when I have made my choice in Poland and let you know if the research was correct or not.

Happy Trails my dear reader.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Time to get my act together.

Today I said farewell to my colleagues at Baskent University after seven years employment as a Native Speaker Instructor. In short, I have spent the last seven years making my students speak English and I have enjoyed doing it. Yes it has had it's frustrating moments and at the end of every year, I vowed never to return but always did. Now however, it is time for a new adventure. It is time to take a few more steps towards something I have been talking about for years, dreaming about for even longer but rarely making progress towards. Working for myself doing things I love to do. So, very soon I will launch RSJ Services my own company which will deliver a range of services from English Language services such as speaking classes, editing, proof reading, copy writing etc. through corporate and individual training and workshops in a whole variety of topics and on to technical consulting services through an association with Altim Media.
Watch this space and check back soon. Also, head over to RSJ Services and register yourself. As we get the rest of the site up and running, I will be offering members only content as well as a regular newsletter.
Take Care
Have Fun
Wear a Hat

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gadgets, Gizmos and buttons to press.

It's been a while since I was here but life happens. What can I say, too much going on but I guess I should at least have shared some of it.

Anyway, this week I was trawling the usual geek blogs and other stuff I like to read and I found a few useful gizmos to add to my blog.

Firstly every post now has a 'TWIT THIS!' icon at the bottom of it. if any of you use Twitter then please feel free to tweet the link to any post that you think others may enjoy.

Secondly I added a 'Share This on...' icon for Facebook and Twitter users alike.

And Finally, there is a 'Shout Out' icon bar that has the links to I think 35 different social networking sites where you can also share anything you read here that may amuse or enlighten others.

At the moment, these new add-ons are pretty useless if I am not posting often enough or anything worth reading but it is all in preparation for doing this on a more regular and permenant basis.

See you all later

Monday, January 18, 2010

A busy week

I'm sure you don't want to know about my busy/non busy week but a week there has been since I last posted anything. Why? I have no idea, just got busy with stuff I guess.

Anyway, this week won't be much better as it seems to be fully booked with things. Grading student exams, completing final grade paperwork, private classes and a social event for the Internations group I am ambassador for. Then my Brother will arrive on Saturday :-)))))) can't wait.

Just need it to snow lots now so we can go skiing.

Take Care

Oh, by the way, am man from the school IT office just came round taking everyone's MAC address for their computer or laptop so they can assign us all fixed IP addresses. Normally this would be a good thing but in this case, it is to track down who is writing bad things about the situation here and the e r g e n o k o n thing. Big Brother is most definitely watching us.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I want to be an editor because I like to read magazines.

/rant on
Normally I am fairly gentle in talking about my students inability to construct a simple sentence but today there was a moment where I wondered why we bother.

My morning speaking class are supposed to be the top stream, the highest English ability students entering our prep school but to be honest when I read their homework they have been preparing to hand in to the grammar teachers later in the day, I want to cry.

When even the title of the homework (I have a dream to myself) has a mistake in it and the following 20 sentences cannot produce a correct one from amongst them. When one sentence can contain parts of four different tenses and when this students only explanation as to why she dreams of being a magazine editor is because "She likes to read a lot of magazines", I ask myself what the hell are we teaching them.

In their daily normal classroom, posters of some of their work are proudly displayed on the wall and can someone please tell me what the bloody point of displaying work that is so full of mistakes it hardly makes any sense is? Why are these errors not corrected? I could understand if they were trying to use grammar forms beyond their expected level but these are simple present, simple past, present continuous sentences. I cannot resist correcting the mistakes as I read these posters.

I empathise with my teaching colleagues, I really do, I know how hard it can be to beat basic information into the hard head of some gormless student but these people are supposed to be the top stream students and they are being allowed to get away with beginner errors. If they spent half as much time on correcting their mistakes and learning from them as they do discussing how amazing their 20 year old fiance is and their wedding plans I am sure they could do a lot better.

I was told by a good friend today that usually when I talk about my students I am fairly nice and only with tongue in cheek do I comment on the entertainment value of their stupidity but not today. Students, get your act together, stop being so damn lazy with the bare minimum, that will do attitude and teachers, you are teaching English so for goodness sake, at the very minimum greet your students in ENGLISH when you walk in the classroom.
/rant off
Night all.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A few slow days of work work work and an afternoon on the sofa.

Ok, so I just summed up the last 3 days in the title so there's not much point in carrying on but just give me a minute and I'll see what I can find.


Oh Ok, If you insist but only for a little bit ok?

Today was the final set of my classes final presentations and thankfully, I felt the little tug at my heart as I made the final 'thank you for playing, have a good life' speech and bade them all farewell at least until next weekend when it is final exams time.
At the end of every semester I vow that I have had enough, that I am tired of all this general tomfoolery and usually utter the words "I need a new job" at least twice before the final piece of paperwork is handed in to signal the beginning of my semester holiday. However, I have to say that the little tug on my heart strings that I felt this time made up for it all. The genuine 'thank you Robin' I got from a few of the boys and girls who came to either shake my hand or kiss me (or both) as they left the classroom and the few who asked how they could make sure they got into my class next semester for the resume and job interviews course jusr made me feel for a short time that perhaps I had achieved something after all and that is all I need.
That is all I need to make sure that I will be back next semester, ready to go, grumbling under my breath about 'bloody students' but loving most of it.
In between now and all this new revelry however is the final paperwork and exams etc etc and I really do hate those but it will all get done I know.
So what about the afternoon on the sofa? Well, yesterday afternoon I didn't have to work, had no private classes and so We spent the afternoon curled up on the sofa together watching movies, a little bit of personal r&r time before the maelstrom kicked off again today, a great way to spend a cloudy afternoon.
Yeah I know, not a good value for money post today, hehehe sue me!!
More tomorrow maybe.
Night All.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Where did yesterday go?

This evening I was convinced it was yesterday evening. Yes I am sure it has something to do with my age but I was somewhat disappointed to discover that there was no post for yesterday and as my time machine isn't finished yet, I can't go back and correct the situation so there it is.

So what for today? Well, today was pretty good. My presentations this morning were great fun and I managed to suggest that maybe my boss was a late developing lesbian after she commented several times about "What a  great figure" one of my female presenters had. Then this afternoon, I was team teaching a speaking class with my workmate and we had a blast with our total of 5 students and 2 teachers as we tried to see how many animal references we could come up with including a few that he didn't know. His facebook page now says that he is "sick as a parrot" but for today I think mine would say I am as proud as a peacock.

night all

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gonna, wanna, shoulda coulda

Sometimes our plans go awry and we are upset by this and sometimes it happens and the result is an unexpected pleasant surprise. This afternoon my speaking class was the latter.
I had planned to spend some time discussing the use of similes (to which one student asked as I wrote the word on the board "Teacher are those the things with the funny faces in MSN?" resulting in coffee spurting from my nose and fits of laughter.
That set the tone for the rest of the class. All talk of similes was abandoned once another of my class started asking about some vocabulary she had written down while watching a movie the previous evening.
I spent some time explaining 'A bee in her bonnet', 'back and forth' ad a couple of others and then the same student asked me about gonna. Thus began the explanation of a whole list of words that have become basterdised by modern usage from their original grammatically correct shortened forms. Would, shoulda, coulda seemed to be a great favourite as I explained would have versus would've and I would have versus I'd've.
The lists grew and the words filled the whiteboard but for me the most fulfilling part of the class was the enthusiasm with which they absorbed all these words and phrases and asking is it formal or informal? is it everyday or not common usage? is this an insult? etc etc etc. For the first time this semester (a shame there are only 2 weeks left) my class found something that sparked them and I finished my two hours more fulfilled than I have been for the last 3 months.
Moral of the tale - everyone can surprise you.... sometimes.