Monday, September 20, 2010


Designing the dater base

Teaching IT to international students provides me with constant challenges, not the least of which is keeping classroom fatalities to an absolute minimum.

Fortunately, years of teaching experience have equipped me with a giddying array of classroom strategies, the best of which is: keep it relevant to the students' interests.

For example, this week I had to teach Microsoft's Access database: the one part of MS Office that nobody, but nobody is going to use casually in everyday life.

Happily, I'd caught a few of the ladies looking for true love (a willing sap) online in a previous lesson, so I came up with a top exercise: design a database for an internet dating site.

I put some examples up on the board:

Username - text
Telephone number - text
Height (cm) - number

I warned my students against using "number" format for telephone numbers. I also warned them against including "weight" on their list of required fields - as if anyone would ever tell the truth.

I then left them to it for a few minutes before I wondered round and inspected their efforts. It proved a bit of an insight into human nature: several of the ladies had specified salary - number as a required field. Damn gold diggers.

I decided to check on one of the blokes. It wasn't much better.

Virgin - Yes/No

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Saturday, September 18, 2010


Two weeks until the marathon

The marathon is now but a fortnight distant and I am into the "taper" stage of my training, during which I run less and eat cheesecake like it's going out of fashion.

In truth, the cheesecake-eating bit is not conventional marathon training, but is a handy crutch for me as Edwin and I have sworn off alcohol until we are safely finished in Loch Ness.

A bottle of whisky which I bought the other day sits unharmed on the kitchen shelf, taunting me. Time for some more cheesecake.

At this stage in proceedings, it's not uncommon for runners to get paranoid about injury and illness: What if I get a cold? What if I tear a hamstring? I managed to do myself a bit of damage the other day while performing routine DIY surgery on my foot with a kitchen knife. Perhaps I should be more cautious.

I forced myself out of bed for a 5k race this morning, which went a lot better than last night's jog (ie. I didn't have to do an emergency stealth poo round the back of King's Cross station). There was also a big gorilla at the finishing line, giving out high-fives to runners.

As I was collecting my bag, the gorilla removed its head to reveal the rather hot face of a university student.

"That's not a gorilla!" I shouted indignantly. "That's just a man in a gorilla suit!"

The race organisers tutted and shook their heads at this intelligence. I'm sure one of them muttered the word "wanker".

Two more weeks.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010


A normal Japanese man

I ask her, "Does your husband often talk about women?"

"Of course he doesn't," says Mrs Kodaira. "And I know you're trying to make out he's some kind of sex maniac, raping and killing young women, but he's just a normal Japanese man..."

from Tokyo Year Zero
by David Peace

Monday, September 13, 2010


Not over until it's over

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