Tuesday, 31 December 2013

On the New Year

"Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true."

-Alfred, Lord Tennyson

(A view of the London Eye one lovely December night)

Monday, 30 December 2013

On Childhood Homes

Many people find it difficult to let go and hold lifelong connections with their childhood home(s).

(My grandparent's old home in Ceske Budejovice, CZ)

Sunday, 29 December 2013

On Tributes

There are countless ways to remember great people but songs/lyrics are amongst the greatest.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

On Fried Cheese

In case cheese was not fattening enough, there are countries that deep fry and serve it as a main course.

(Fried cheese served in a restaurant in Prague, CZ)

Friday, 27 December 2013

On Czech Food

Some cities/countries aren't really vegetarian-friendly so be prepared if and when venturing out on an empty stomach.

(Traditional Czech food at the Prague Xmas markets)

Thursday, 26 December 2013

On Bread

There are countries where starving to death is virtually impossible due to the extremely low prices of bread and other carbohydrates.

(A basket of cheap bread in Ceske Budejovice, CZ)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

On Christmas Past

While many celebrate this special day with family and close friends, it is important to remember some tragic events that occurred/are occuring on this day in history.

1717: Thousands died in a massive flood along the Dutch coast.
1932: A 7.6 magnitude earthquake killed 275 people in China.
1968: In a retalian for higher wages 42 Dalits are burned alive in India.
1976: 100 people drowned when the Egyption SS Patria sank in the Red Sea.
2012: A plane crash killed 27 people in Kazakhstan while large fires in the Philippines left 8 dead and thousands homeless.
2013: The death toll in the ongoing Syrian Civil War is close to 130,000.
(A large Christmas tree in the skating rink near the London Eye)

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

On Christmas Quotes

Some of my favourite quotes on Christmas seem to have little in common but they are all based on peace and loving one another.
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on eart, good-will to men!"
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
"My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?"
-Bob Hope
"In the old days, it was not called the Holiday Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church; the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the athiests went to parties and drank. People passing each other on the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!' or (to the athiests) 'Look out for the wall!'"
-Dave Barry
(One of the main Christmas trees in the centre of Prague, CZ)

Monday, 23 December 2013

On Cultural Events

There are cities where high demand for cultural events by locals has created the need for additional "tourist" performances.
(An orchestra-less performance of Swan Lake in Prague)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

On Queen Elizabeth

Just because you may be declared an illegitimate child, it doesn't mean you can't live to do great things for yourself and/or your country.

(Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I at Oxford University)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

On Bike Helmets

Just when you think nothing new can be developed in the bicycle industry, along comes an invention so innovative and practical it's hard to imagine a world without it.

Friday, 20 December 2013

On Christmas Trees

Choosing an appropriate Christmas tree can be a challenging task but choosing one not made of plastic should be an integral part of that decision.

(A large Christmas tree at Oxford University)

Thursday, 19 December 2013

On Oxford University

Some people/institutions are capable of exceeding our expectations even when they are set very high.

(Part of the lovely Oxford University campus)

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

On Beer

It is not a drink for everyone, but until one learns/tries the numerous types of beer one can never say for certain that it is not a drink for them.

(A glass of beer at a pub in Montreal)

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

On Dining Halls

Just because you attend one of the most prestigious universities in the world it doesn't mean you should get special dinnerware.

(The famous dining hall at Oxford University)

Monday, 16 December 2013

On Expired Food

Some people don't mind eating expired food, even when it's over three years past due.

(An expired box of After Eight chocolate in my flat)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

On History Books

"History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books- books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe. As Napoleon once said, 'What is history, but a fable agreed upon?'"

-Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code

(A crowd gathered around the Mona Lisa painting at the Louvre)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

On the NSA

Apart from the "National Security Agency", the initialism also stands for the "National Sheep Association" in the UK.

(Sheep having dinner around Stonehenge, England)

Friday, 13 December 2013

On Triskadekaphobia

There is actually a legitimate medical condition for people who are afraid of the number thirteen.

(Number thirteen at the Science Museum in London)

Thursday, 12 December 2013

On Grammar

There are some people who take grammar so seriously it can be unpleasant to have a regular conversation with them.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

On Pantomimes

They are becoming an increasingly popular form of entertainment for both children and adults alike.

(Jack & the Beanstalk pantomime at a local theatre)

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

On Authorised Graffiti

Allowing people the space to create whatever artwork they like can spruce up an otherwise dull or crumbling area. 

(The graffiti tunnel on the way to the London Eye)

Monday, 9 December 2013

On Roman Numerals

A scenario will always arise where knowing the value of these numbers/letters can prove itself useful.

  • I = 1
  • V = 5
  • X = 10
  • C = 100
  • D = 500
  • M = 1000

(Big Ben in downtown London)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

On Flavoured Cigarettes

Like with soft drinks, it's a myth that certain types of cigarettes are less harmful than others.

(Old Cigarettes on display at the Science Museum)

Saturday, 7 December 2013

On Christmas Lights

It can be the most wonderful time of the year but it yields the biggest waste of electricity for humankind.

(Christmas lights around Harrods department store)

Friday, 6 December 2013

On Nelson Mandela

"I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death."
-Nelson Mandela

(Magnificent ancient rocks at Stonehenge at dusk last month)

Thursday, 5 December 2013

On Winter Tires

There are cities/provinces where not putting on winter tires by a certain date is against the law.

(Large tire at the Science Museum in London)

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

On Veggie Burgers

Many vegetarian burgers from grocery stores can be less healthy and more toxic than traditional beef burgers.

(A veggie burger from a restaurant in London)

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

On Climate vs Weather

There are many who dismiss the notion of global warming due to the temporary state of the weather.

Monday, 2 December 2013

On Planet Earth

Despite knowing all the facts about pollution and its effects on climate change, there are many who simply don't believe in global warming.

(3D planet earth at the Science Museum in London)

Sunday, 1 December 2013


Although there is much more knowledge, acceptance, and treatment surrounding the disease than ever before, 25% of people infected are still unaware that they have the virus.

(Bustling Chinatown in downtown London, England)

Saturday, 30 November 2013

On Differentiation

There is almost no point in being a teacher nowadays unless you are prepared to deal with a differentiated group of students. 
  1. By task: Plan a varied number of tasks that allows students to do what you want them to do and the different ways in which they will be assessed.
  2. By questioning: Bounce a mix of some specific and some open-ended questions at your group.
  3. Using Bloom's Taxonomy: Set higher level thinking tasks requiring synthesis and evaluation.
  4. By resources: Have a range of resources with similar or levelled texts available.
  5. By student involvement: Allow students to perform, teach, present, lead debates, etc.
  6. Individual outcomes: Encourage responsibility for own learning.
  7. By role: Delegate roles within certain activities such as time-keeper, scribe, moderator, etc.
  8. By group: Create groups with different ranges of abilities to complement one another.
  9. By outcome: Decide in advance where do your varied ability students need to get to by the end of the lesson and what they need to do to get there.
  10. Extended learning: Look beyond the classroom; extra reading, internet research, cross-curricular, etc.
(Constitutional building in downtown Montreal last summer)

Friday, 29 November 2013

On Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Some women would rather spend hundreds of $€£ in anti-wrinkle cream instead of investing in their personal/family's well being.

(The Lindow Man at the British Museum in London)

On Paranoia

There are some people who have such over active imaginations that nothing can persuade them otherwise.

(Random eyeball tree in Portobello Market, London) 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

On Existence

"If this book has a lesson, it is that we are awfully lucky to be here- and by 'we' I mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of way, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp."

-Bill Bryson, author of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything'.

(Lovely country house somewhere in Northern Ireland last month)

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

On Grandfather Clocks

Even though they are a dying breed found mainly in museums and old mansions, there are many who seek them out at astonishing prices.

(Grandfather clocks at the British Museum in London)

Monday, 25 November 2013

On Chess

Although it only became a competitive sport in the 19th century, chess is one of the oldest brain games dating back to the 6th century.

(The Lewis Chessmen set at the British Museum)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

On Opera

Just like with any musical genre, one should start by listening to the best in the field to develop a proper sense of appreciation.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

On the Rosetta Stone

Today it is synonymous with an online language course, but its roots lie in a granite-like stone that depicted text in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Demotic script, and ancient Greek.

(The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum in London)

Friday, 22 November 2013

On Clip-on Ties

They are considered by many to be a time-saving creation, but they have a tendency to contribute to overall student and/or population laziness.

(A set of clip-on ties from a high school in Montreal)

Thursday, 21 November 2013

On Greek Mythology

Although there were possibly thousands of Gods it's beneficial to learn some of the main ones mentioned in Greek literature.
  • Zeus: God of the Sky and ruler of all Olympian gods.
  • Hera: Wife and sister of Zeus. Goddess of marriage and childbirth.
  • Poseidon: God of the sea and brother of Zeus.
  • Apollo: God of light and sun, son of Zeus.
  • Athena: Goddess of war and wisdom, daughter of Zeus.
  • Aphrodite: Goddess of love and beauty, daughter of Zeus or Cronus.
  • Achilles: Immortal demigod hero of the Trojan War.
  • Demeter: Goddess of agriculture and sister of Zeus.
  • Hermes: Messenger of the gods and son of Zeus.
  • Hades: God of the Underworld and brother of Zeus. Abducted wife Persephone.

(An ancient vase at the British Museum in London)

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

On the Olympics

Although it was meant to reflect a country's athletic achievement, it is becoming more and more a political tool between nations/politicians.

(The Olympic Stadium in east Montreal, Quebec)

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

On High Expectations

Children will usually go above and beyond when given high expectations by their teachers/parents/carers.

(Students performing several Shakespeare plays)

Monday, 18 November 2013

On Free Minds

"And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for: the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against: any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about."

-John Steinbeck, author of East of Eden.

(Beautiful country road somewhere in Western Ireland last month)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

On Urban Landscapes

Every city is rich with creative material for any writer/photographer with a keen observational eye.

(Urban "letters" at Greenwich market, London)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

On Frozen Yoghurt

While some desserts pose as healthy alternatives there are some that are just as bad as their counterparts and can be worse with added toppings.

(Delicious frozen yoghurt at Freshii near uOttawa)

Friday, 15 November 2013

On Exams

Although exam results should not dictate the course of a person's life, it doesn't mean a student shouldn't try his/her best.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

On Engineers

Just because someone may have been commissioned to design bathroom fixtures at a world famous museum it doesn't mean they knew what they were doing. 

(A flawed sink at the British Museum in London)

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

On Weight

It is not always healthy or realistic to attain the same body type/composition from our youth.

(An old school trip photo from Daytona, Florida)

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

On the Subjunctive

It is the form that a verb takes when the sentence expresses hypothetical situations such as suggestions, wishes, uncertainties, possibilities, etc.

e.g.: Long live the Queen! I wish I were Queen...

(A collage of photos of the Queen in Gatwick Airport, London)

Monday, 11 November 2013

On Arabic

Not understanding a complex language and/or group of people does not make them evil.

(Some Arabic script at the V&A Museum, London)

Sunday, 10 November 2013

On Fish & Chips

There are some meals that can be detrimental to one's health even when consumed as infrequently as once a month.

(A fatty fish & chip dinner near Belfast, Ireland)

Saturday, 9 November 2013

On Youth

"I do not think, sir, you have any right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience."
-Charlotte Bronte, author of Jane Eyre

(A quote outside a popular pub in Dublin, Ireland)

Friday, 8 November 2013

On Street Performers

Although easily dismissed, they can be amongst the best and most hard-working performers in any city.

(A brave street performer in Galway, Ireland)

Thursday, 7 November 2013

On Farm Animals

There are places where cows and sheep are not kept in factory farms and can be seen everywhere along the countryside.

(Friendly cows in the countryside of Galway, Ireland)