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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Only another week!


I think that I have been found out!  The dreaded event has taken place: I have been taken for a substitution for a lesson for an absent colleague!  And I think that there is more to it than that. 

This substitution takes place while we should have been having a Departmental Meeting.  In the afternoon.  And I was planning to slope off if I was not needed after my last taught lesson – which would have been an hour before lunch.  As it is I have to spend that hour, plus the lunch hour wilting in school before another hour of supervision before I can go home an hour early.  So this one bloody substitution means that I spend an extra three hours in school!  I sometimes think it is a good thing that I am looking forward only to another week of this torment!

I have been asked if I would consider extending my cover through to the end of the year – my only response was to laugh!

I am reading through The Hobbit which I have not read for many years and am finding it irritating because it is not the same as Lord of the Rings.  I know that The Hobbit is a book for children but I am finding it hard to get beyond the chatty and personal responses of the narrator who intrudes into the story as a guide for the kids but a distraction for the adult reader!

Characters and events are treated in a much more restrained way than the same people and similar actions are presented in the later books in the Ring saga.  For me, everything lacks edge and the bluntness is irritating.

It is also difficult to get the images of the trilogy of films out of one’s mind when reading.  For example, the presentation of Gollum is so shockingly appropriate in the film that it is his face which comes to mind when reading of Bilbo’s first meeting with this sad and frightening character.  You can hardly blame the films, I consider them remarkable versions of the story and it is difficult to see their excellence being surpassed in the near future.  At least not until CGI becomes a damn sight cheaper!

In spite of my qualifications about the quality of the story, I am still enjoying the read and, given the amount of time that I will have to spend in this place before my escape I will have made a substantial dent in the narrative by the end of the afternoon!

The one thing that I do not understand is how the filmmakers are going to make a trilogy out of such slight (as opposed to The Lord of the Rings) stuff.  I have since discovered that the filmmakers are going to utilize the film from the first two parts of the trilogy and then use the appendices from the novels to bulk out the narrative.

It also appears that Jackson has shot the film in 42 fps rather than the conventional 24 fps giving the final result what has been described as a photo-realist look, or what another critic described as giving it a shot-for-TV look which is much less positive!

Unless the dragon is made to be out-of-this-world amazing then I can see little scope for anything which will improve what we have already seen in the trilogy that we already have.  But I am a sucker for this sort of stuff so I will drink it all in and be delighted that Tolkien has been able to seduce hard-faced business men to stump up for another nine hours of fantastic (I use the adjective advisedly) entertainment.

My extra hours have passed pleasantly enough with genial conversation and a reasonable meal – even if I was trying to read the rest of The Hobbit.  Now I am in front of a class which I am supervising and they are having their five-minute chat which is their reward for working in silence for 30 minutes (or as near to it as a group of Spanish school children can get) which should take us up nicely to the end of the period and my quick exit!

Other people have now been speculating about what will happen if the person I am replacing does not make it back for the start of the new term in January.  I am not.  I have a contract to which I will be sticking.  And luckily for me the Head of Department also has a Plan B for this situation which does not involve my active participation in the on-going life of the school!

My early disappearance from school allowed me to go into Barcelona and scout out the offerings in the Apple Shop.  And meagre they were too.  I am looking to buy a new stand-alone machine and I have decided, vis-a-vis my recent harrowing experiences with my Old Enemy the PC, to buy an Apple.

Except they no longer supply the machine I want.  The new slimmed down iMac’s do not have a slot for a DVD or CD.  I suppose that the thinking is that anyone so sophisticated and technology literate as to want one of these gleaming machines would be well used to working in the Cloud and have no need for something as pass√© as a disc.  Well, I have not sold my soul to the insubstantial skies and I want a slot!  Which means that I will not get the “educational discount” if I buy an older machine from the shop which has become my other bank in Spain given how much money I deposit in it: MediaMarkt.

Alas!  My Plan B is foiled.  Although the earlier version of the iMac is on display in MediaMarkt with a plaque giving technical details and price, it is not for sale!  They have none, not even the one on display, I presume that it is some Apple Advance Apparition and does not exist in this universe.

Apple has shown, yet again, its arrogant dictatorial attitude towards its customers.  It expects slavish devotion (which it largely gets) even when it introduces a model which is clearly and demonstrably worse than its predecessor!  “Together,” says Apple, “We will progress towards a brighter future with the new iMac.  There will be no looking back.  What has been is no more.  There is only the future!”

Bugger them! 

I am in danger of turning to the dark side and looking more closely at the cheaper and more lavish offerings of the sleek and touchable houris from the wicked world of all in one touchable screen PCs.  They only have themselves to blame!

Toni is now in Terrassa indulging in Christmas shopping with his sisters and mother and, in a very real sense, I wish him luck.  I have to admit that it is my idea of a particular form of purgatory.  I am sure that he will get his reward in the next world.  In which he doesn’t believe.  I think.

I indulged myself for lunch and drove off to the Japanese restaurant and overdid it with a huge bowl of salmon sushi, along with other delectable morsels.  I kept up my “drying out” period however and made do with a mere bottle of fizzy water to accompany the meal.

Now an evening of music played through the mini speaker attached to the sliver thin Mac that I use as a portable.  This tiny, collapsible speaker made by X-mini (sound beyond size) is remarkable and it even has a blue light on the underside of the machine which gives a rather spectral impression of the thing floating as the light reflects off the surface it is placed on.  I have to admit that the sound quality is remarkable for so small a thing and it even comes with its own little tie-string bag in which to live when it is not in use.

I got the speaker at the same time as my new watch.  I cannot justify another watch so I will not bother to try.  So far I am very pleased with it.  It is an eco-watch in so far as it is powered by light, any light and will therefore never need a new battery.  It is also a perpetual calendar watch which means that it has been set so that it will not need to be adjusted to take account of leap years and odd months for the next hundred years or so.  The only negative aspect that I can see is that I will have to restrain myself from buying another watch and I will have to keep wearing the perpetual calendar one until at least next February just to see that the date is correct!

Setting the date is not quite as easy as one would have hoped and the watch comes with a detailed instruction book and a mini-CD to help you through the technical aspects of owning such a sophisticated timepiece!

Luckily, as far as I can tell the watch was set to British time before it was sent to me and so I simply had to adjust for the hour’s difference.  I have also set the Local Time alternative to British time so that it should be relatively simple for me to change when I go to the UK.  Flushed with success at these two processes being completed I then attempted to set the alarm (yes, indeed this watch does have one) and, even though it was a little trickier than the other two operations I managed that too.  I am not absolutely sure how to turn the alarm off, but I will need it for the next week so I can wait for the holidays before I attempt such a thing!

So far, no one (including Toni) has noticed it or made a comment about it.  As I wear short-sleeved shirts in school I will soon see just how observant people are!

In what I think is a well judged gesture, I have been invited to end of term drinks and tapas do with the staff at the local school in which I have worked for a few days this year.  I will not, for obvious reasons be able to go to the reception which is being held at 1.30 pm as I will be otherwise engaged in Barcelona - unless I can leave the School on the Hill early.  And that I doubt.  But we will see.

Tomorrow more work on the Wiki.  People in our group who have done nothing so far have suddenly reappeared and made suggestions which suggest that we might have to rewrite the pieces so far.  Well, I’m not.  I will do what I have to do and then I will be done.

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