Feb 25, 2011

Feb 23rd, 2011

Framing this one!

Took the winners of the annual Utah Statewide Art Show to the Capital, to be honored by the Legislature, Senate, and Governor.   Had to meet each entity at different times, so it took most of the day to attend the meetings.   The State Capitol building in Salt Lake City is one of the finest, most ornate Capitols, in the country in my opinion.   This is mostly a photo blog,  since little else was interesting particularly.   I would like to mention that only about one out of seven entrants get their artwork exhibited in the show.    Only three of my students were allowed to enter their pieces,  ALL THREE WERE CHOSEN TO EXHIBIT IN THE STATE SHOW.  ONE WON AN AWARD OF MERIT!!!   NO OTHER JEWELRY PROGRAM IN THE STATE HAD THREE STUDENTS IN THIS SHOW!    Our school had more artworks actually make the show than just about all the other schools in the state.  Our school kicks ass in the Art Department.  Does any other public school in the nation have 3 full time visual Arts teachers?  We're talking Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Photo, Ceramics, and Jewelry.  Band and Choir are not visual arts.

I am proud to work with such excellence,  sorry that it will soon come to an end.   But it is time to go elsewhere,  stagnation and boredom are setting in.   I am no longer mentally stimulated by this place,  I have few friends, no family, the winter lasts 7 months,  and the air pollution is the 7th worst in the country. Time to move on..

February 5th-11th, 2011

I'm putting this one in a frame!

Hotel Carlton Lobby

View from hotel window

Hall in the Carlton ($70 bucks a night)

Inside the Hyatt

Teachers milling about.

Muir woods.. 
  I spent nearly a week in San Francisco, from the 5th  through the 11th of this month;  while attending the International School Services conference at the Hyatt (Embarcadero Center).   Stayed in an excellent old hotel on Sutter & Larken known as "The Carlton",  which I learned about from the "Trip Advisor" website.  This old hotel was built a hundred years ago, yet has been modernized just enough to enjoy it.  Every night they had free wine tasting with a jazz playing keyboardist (who also doubles as the concierge),  and the hotel guests would actually get to know each other.   I love this concept,  I was able to meet strangers from all over the world for an hour, while drinking a couple glasses of free California wine!  For a lone traveler like myself, getting to meet other guests is half the fun of being at the location.  The rooms were small, with thin walls,  but for only $70 per night?  In San Francisco!    After wine tasting,  I'd go the the "Fly Bar" next door and have dinner.  The "Fly", is located a few blocks from the worst ghetto in town (Tenderloin),  and a few blocks from the top of  "Nob Hill"  (where one can rent a crappy studio apt. for $2500 or more),  so the crowd is as diverse as it gets--great place for people watching.   The excellent, healthy food,  and the low prices, tend to attract all kinds of people.   Unlike the wine tasting,  I didn't socialize much at the Fly;  I would mainly go there and eat,  then go back to my room and be dead to the world by 9PM.   The conference wore me out.

The first day I arrived it was 5 PM,   and I mainly stayed in my room doing research about the area and making plans for Sunday, which was my only day to play tourist.   I did manage to walk a few blocks (straight up a steep fecking hill) do buy a few groceries.  This old downtown grocery store,  located at the ground floor of an ancient skyscraper,  looked like something out of Seinfeld,  yet they had everything one could possibly need.   The kind store owner (who looked identical to Saddam Hussein),  was very happy that I bought "babaganoush" (eggplant/hummus dip),  he told me how to make it at home,  and why it is so healthy etc, etc..   Most middle easterners seem to be like this store owner.  Went back to my room,  feasted on "Babagonoush",  drank some strong California wine with a lizard on the label,   made my tourist plans,  and hit the sack.   5 years ago,  I would have partied to at least midnight, but that was then: now I'm old.

Sunday 2/6  6:AM:   Called the tour company for a 1/2 day trip to see the "Muir Woods",   and have lunch in Salsalito.    We also stopped near the base of Golden Gate bridge for some photo opportunities.   It was nice to see and smell the ocean again!    Muir Woods,  is one of the last remaining Coastal Redwood forests in the San Francisco area,  and it seemed more interesting to me than the usual touristy sights.   We got to spend an hour walking through the forests of huge trees, ferns, etc... very magical indeed.   Afterwords, we went to the Artist, boating community of Sausalito,   where I spent an hour watching the sailboats do their maneuvers, while dreaming of my own past sailboats and experiences.  I would love to live in the bay area someday, but probably not in this life time.  After all:  The Bay Area ain't Texas is it?

Monday 2/7:  Got to the Hyatt at the Embarcadero center at 8:00 AM,  after a screaming cab ride through the city. Once I arrived things got faster, I got my I.D. tag,   schedule of events,  international school directory,  and other stuff.   Sat down and circled each scheduled school presentation that I wanted to see.    Senegal, Sri Lanka,  Malaysia,  were at the top of my list.   Egypt, Saudi Arabia,  and Kuwait,  were at the bottom.   Lot to consider when looking at international schools.   Some like "The American International School in Shanghai",  pay very high salaries,  excellent benefits,  insurance,  and more;   with students from many different countries:   others are not so great.  For example: One of the schools in Bahrain, where  they payed little, offered mediocre benefits,  were owned by Bahraini nationals,   who were known to treat their staff like cattle;  all students were spoiled kids from the host country and could do whatever they want.  If the teacher doesn't like it,  out goes the teacher.  There are many bad international schools like this.  In order to choose the best schools for teachers I subscribed to a site called "International School Review", or I.S.R.,   to get the low down on these places from the reviews of past teachers and staff.   Hours of research were involved,  but I can discuss the conditions for teachers in at least 50 schools from all over the world.  Really made my scheduling easier,  but did cause me to cross many of the schools in attendance, off the list completely.  Gratefully so!

Tuesday was the big day.   From 8 AM till 10 AM all the schools had interview sign-up tables in a large hall,  and over 1000 teacher candidates were unleashed upon the scores of  tables where the recruiters sat,  each teacher trying to score as many interviews as possible.   They would only give you a real interview if you met all their criteria, so they asked a few preliminary questions.   I went from school to school, often waiting in lines, only to hear, "Do you have any International Baccalaureate, experience"?  My reply of "I would be happy to take the three day course this summer",  didn't impress many,  so most of the History job opportunities,  blew by me like yesterdays blizzard.   After two hours,  I did manage to schedule 4 interviews.   I was a little bummed about it,  until I talked to a few other teachers who only landed one or two.   Turns out that 4 interviews was pretty good,  but not great.   The rest of the day,  I interviewed with 4 different schools,  2 in Shanghai, 1 in Kuwait,  and 1 in Senegal.   I didn't like the Kuwait idea at first, but I did want the interview experience,  and I did like the director of the school.   I got home way after wine tasting time,  so I had a beer at "The Fly",  ate a bowl full of greens and hit the bed by 8 PM.   In S.F. many restaurants serve "greens" instead of french fries.  I loved it!

Wednesday was easy but important, because we were all hoping to hear good news from our interviews.  Much of the morning was sitting around the lobby, talking to other teachers,  and hearing the cheers of the ones who were offered jobs.  Seems that about half the candidates did get hired.  One older guy said that he had been to three other job fairs before he got his new job,  and he had international experience.   I was assured by the Superintendent of the best school in Shanghai,  that I was the man for his Art position during the interview,  but if one of his recruiters found a math teacher with an Art teacher spouse,  I would be squeezed out.   This is exactly what happened.    I didn't want the Kuwait job,  I turned down an interview with an Egyptian school.   So I resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn't have a high pressure job at an international school this year (of course,  all the schools have access to my resume and transcripts,  so I could hear back from places, as other teachers leave the schools).    I really want a lower stress job like University teaching in China,  where you only have 14 class hours a week,  but still get free housing and a small paycheck.   To get those jobs  you have to be in China to apply,  I plan to leave in early June.   Many people without teaching certification and Masters degrees teach in Chinese Universities,  the jobs are plentiful and few qualified teachers want to work for low pay.   I just want 3 or 4 day weekends so I can write, travel, and do research of whatever interests me at the time... History probably.

Since I had no call backs or interviews,  I didn't go to the Hyatt on Thursday morning,  just had a nice breakfast at the Carlton Hotel,  walked to the Arab store to buy some tobacco.  Took out the big camera and did a bit of street photography,  then went back to my hotel and waited for the shuttle to whisk me off to the airport and back to the land of ice and snow.   It was one hell of a nice trip and I plan to hit SF again someday,  when I have a bit more time to see things.   I did enjoy the heck out of criss-crossing the city each day, running to appointments; while meeting other teachers who work in fascinating places, meeting  International school directors,  hotel personnel, cabbies, street-bums, shop keepers,  tourists and locals.

San Francisco is one of the most interesting places I've ever had the chance to visit.    SEE MY NEW POST WRITTEN MARCH 13TH FOR MORE ABOUT THE SF. TRIP.