Monday, February 26, 2007

Thai Lunch on board

Just half of what was served for lunch...there was a complete western selection plus fresh fruit. Posted by Picasa

Manta Rays

This is one of 8-12 manta rays that came over us on the dive. They were the first of the semi religious experiences I had. They were just big dark shadows coming over us and then they would appear out of the grey. When I saw the first one, I spread my arms and felt like praying. I now can empathisize with the generation who see space travellers for the first time and do not know what to expect. The only thing missing was a film score by John Williams. The word WOW does not even come close! Posted by Picasa


Just after the whale shark we saw two cuttlefish making more cuttlefish. They were so multicolored and graceful. After daddy did what daddies do, I got up close and talked to him. He was about arms length away and waved his tentacles at me just like we were signing. They are almost a meter long and change colors like octopi. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 25, 2007

This guy wanted to love me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My buddy was trying to get my attention by yelling "Bill...Bill" through the bubbles of his regulator, but I did not hear. I turned around only to look directly at this Great Barracuda (8-10' long). As my buddy later said, I really did not have time to register panic but instead, raised my underwater light and was prepared to bang him on the snout. He was within forearms' length of me. Thankfully he just hung around and got cleaned. Another diver had his BCD vest strap yanked from behind by this fish while his buddies tried to get his attention. He was not even aware that he was in danger,, rather he wondered why his buddies had pulled him. Posted by Picasa

Whale Shark

This lady was as big as a bus and looked like the Hindenberg. I was so close that its ventral fin passed on my hand. She stayed around for 7 passes and I was so close I had to tuck my tummy up to avoid the tail....truly a religious experience. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Avast me hearties

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STOP STOP ..We are here, We are here!!

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The Junk

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Junk Trip

I spent the last week on this boat in the Andaman sea off Phuket Thailand. It is not easy to put in words how mind blowing the trip and the marine life were. But trust me I will try. Posted by Picasa

Pam and I with concert kids

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Concert bow Pam right Laura Earley left

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I am at the piano...the TAS auditorium for the concert

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My new students at the end of the concert

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Article of Note regarding International Teaching

I found this article online and will post it here so that others might give this new life a whirl. The info is accurate and applies directly to us here at TAS. Enjoy The read.

International education is good for teachers, too.
By Frances Childs
Published: February 12, 2007
LONDON: Victoria Gammon is a dedicated teacher from Swansea in Wales who devoted seven years to an inner London primary school before deciding one day that a radical change was in order.
"I was fed up with the pay, the workload and with the lack of professional trust placed in teachers in British schools," Gammon said. "I thought working in another system would improve my practice and might be more rewarding."
Four years ago she packed her bags and left Britain for the United Arab Emirates. "It was the best thing I could have done," she said in an interview. "Working in the international sector has broadened my outlook. It's given me the chance to travel, to gain an insight into different cultures — and even to save money."
Now working in an international school in Nanjing, China, Gammon does not foresee a return to Britain. "I love living and working abroad. It's endlessly fascinating, and the opportunities for professional and personal development are immense," she said.
Gaining a teaching qualification is still one of the best ways to travel the world while earning a decent living. As Andrea McDonald, a 42- year-old Canadian primary school teacher currently working in Singapore, says, "overseas teaching is the best-kept secret in the profession."
She added: "Only a few people I've worked with in eight years of teaching in international schools have chosen to return home. We seem to be a band of vagabonds who thrive on travel and adventure."
As well as travel and adventure, international schools tend to offer highly competitive employment terms. In Asia it is customary for schools to offer a package that includes coverage of all accommodation and medical costs. In Europe, although teachers at international schools are usually expected to find and pay for their own housing, they generally work fewer classroom hours for higher pay than in their national education systems — and the discipline problems that plague many British and European public sector schools are, for the most part, absent.
The most obvious drawback of teaching abroad is the lack of regular contact with friends and family — although e- mail and text messaging help. While it can be glamorous, expatriate life is sometimes very insular.
Gammon acknowledges that in some countries, expatriates rely almost exclusively on one another for a social life. "It can get a bit claustrophobic," she says. "You need the expat community, but at the same time you also need your own space. I'd advise potential international school teachers to appreciate the invaluable help and support of the expat community, but to also make an attempt to integrate with the host country, by learning something of the language for example."
Financially, the loss of national pension rights is often the biggest drawback. Still, Julian Whiteley, head teacher at the United World College of South East Asia in Singapore, said many schools now offered enhanced pay or a bonus to offset the loss.
Increasingly, teachers are beginning to view a career on the international circuit as not only a lifestyle choice but as beneficial for their professional development. "I've come to see international schools as a very important force in the world of education," said Derek Pinchbeck, a British teacher with 14 years of experience in international schools. "The current growth of the international baccalaureate program means that we are at the forefront of innovative educational practice."
And, of course, there is "no contest between playing golf against a Caribbean backdrop and meeting with social services about problem children on wet February nights in Bristol," the port city in southwestern England where he used to teach.
When it comes to seeking an international job, the emphasis that a school places on professional development is, according to Pinchbeck, a good way to sift the wheat from the chaff. "The professional development that a school offers is a good indicator of how much it values its staff," he said.
Nothing, though, replaces research when it comes to judging the credibility of an international school. "The Web site is a good place to start to get the feel of a school," Whiteley said.
For deeper research, the Council of International Schools, a nonprofit association, and Search Associates, a recruitment consultancy, "are aware of issues on the international circuit, " he added. Both CIS and Search Associates hold job fairs around the world, where schools meet teachers, and jobs are offered.
The international schools world is surprisingly small and teachers and schools soon acquire a reputation. "If you don't know the school, by asking around on the international teaching circuit, you'll quickly come across someone who does," Gammon said.
Pinchbeck advised: "Check to see what curriculum the school is teaching. Some follow British curricula, some French, some American. Different curricula suit different people."
In selecting potential staff, reputable international schools generally require a recognized teaching qualification and at least two years' teaching experience. On top of these basic requirements, Whiteley, the head teacher, said employers would look for "a sense of adventure, adaptability, emotional resilience and — if they don't already have the knowledge — the enthusiasm to find out about other cultures."
The enthusiasm to find out about other cultures is particularly pertinent if, instead of applying to work in the privileged world of the international school, where pupils tend to be the sons and daughters of bankers and diplomats, a teacher decides to work in the voluntary sector.
Voluntary Service Overseas is an international charitable agency that sends teachers to work in developing countries where their skills are desperately needed. "Our volunteers say that they return to their own country equipped with invaluable professional experience — and a whole new perspective on teaching," said Bevis Man, a spokesman for the agency.
Working with VSO, Man says, "offers not just the challenge of living in another culture and having to cross many boundaries such as language but also the challenge of integrating with the local community."
A teacher who accepts a posting abroad will seldom regret it, said McDonald, the Canadian. "My eyes and mind have been opened to an acceptance of many other cultures," she said. "I have grown as much as my students have — the learning curve is unfathomable

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Calla lily valley

Carol finally let me up Yangmingshan Mt. where she keeps her boyfriend. I am not allowed up here without her permission lest we meet. Anyway this is a beautiful valley in the mountains that grows calla lilies. The walk was full of fresh air and the greenest vegetation including jack in the pulpits. The lilies cost 200NT (about $6 USD) for 1.5 doz blooms...and no one died! Posted by Picasa

Calla lily fields

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Open sulfur volcanic vent in Yangmingshan

Part of our walk included this view of an open vent that provides so much of the "flavor" of Taipei. Posted by Picasa

Lantern Entrance to Guando Temples

With our first USA guests Nancy and Larry, we visited this great temple site just north of us on the MRT to Danshui. It has 7 stories of temples built into a cliff in a mountain and is the best of the best of the temples. The visit is beyond verbal description but suffice it to say that the detail and reverance is humbling. Posted by Picasa

Guando temple roofs

Ceramica concrete and wood supports these ornate temple roofs. Posted by Picasa

Roof detail

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Guando Temple roof detail

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A Taipei moment

during Chinese New Year they clean EVERYTHING...the par.k has been swept, every trash day the mountains of cast offs and junk piled on the street corners are as high as one can throw junk. So the temple gets a cleaning too from top to bottom walls, ceilings and this poor lion got pressed into service complainingly Posted by Picasa

Take note boys!

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Beautiful Carol in Asian wonderland

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Temple roofs looking south to Taipei

Such a cluster of temple roofs. There are 7 stories to temples in this great complex. Posted by Picasa

Guando Temple ceiling detail

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