The Latest Gadget


About a month agon I treated myself to the Ipad – along with a shell and a sleeve – and have enjoyed every second I have spent on it since.

I have purchased two kindle books: All-of-a-Kind Family (which I have read and greatly enjoyed) and Heart of the City by Ariel Sabar (which I have not started yet) and have downloaded a number of news apps (you can try and guess which ones) in both French and English.

Although it is not something I frequently do, I have also watched a few youtube videos to test the app and was pleasantly surprised : the quality of the image is really good.

I have also visited a number of blogs and commented from the Ipad on a few occasions.

Mostly I use my new gadget for reading, in the evening, and do not find it too heav – a frequent criticism. In fact reading it in bed is far more enjoyable than I expected.

I still need an iPad Camera Connection Kit but reckon that I will take the Ipad on my next trip and might even leave the computer at home.

There are obviously lots of other features that I have not discovered yet but I would recommend it for all the reasons I have mentioned above.

Fish Loaf



12.3 oz silken tofu
3 eggs
a can of drained tuna or salmon
1 leek, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Put the silken tofu in a glass bowl and whisk unti it is quite smooth. Add the eggs and whisk the mixture again. Add the tuna and leek and mix thoroughly. Season with the dill, salt and pepper. Pour into a baking pan and bake at 300°F for 30 minutes.

Eat at room temperature or cold with a salad.

Sad but Beautiful and Thought-Provoking


Encouraged by enthusiastic reviews, yesterday we saw the Korean movie Poetry by Lee Chang-Dong. The story is tragic but the movie is really worth seeing.

Mija, a sixty-five year old woman, raises her grandson alone and barely makes ends meet. One day she is told by the father of one of her grandson’s classmates that both boys, along with four others, have been involved in a terrible misdemeanor.

All the parents, or rather fathers – the mothers are conspicuously absent from the plot – want a cover-up and this involves a lot of money.

The grandmother is devastated: she is under shock because of what has happened and she cannot financially contribute to the cover-up. It is also clear that she totally disapproves of her grandson’s wrongdoing but is nevertheless unable to confront him overtly about it. The fact that she has just been diagnosed with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease obviously makes her extremely anxious about the future.

The title refers to the poerty lessons the grandmother takes up at the beginning of the movie and which give rhythm to the story. These lessons and the reading sessions she attends are her only solace.

In the end, Mija finds a way to redeem her grandson by sacrificing herself in more ways than one.

This movie is terrifying in that it portrays a global post-modern society where youngsters are constantly glued to different screens whenever they are not at school and where securing their future is more important than teaching them values. Even if the plot is set in Korea, it is easy to imagine the same story in any other developed country.

It is a movie I strongly recommend because of the issues it raises and since it is a subtle tour de force.

Fishing for Ideas


A former student of mine, now aged 26, is leaving for the US soon. She just got a two-year contract and is going to Norfolk to work for Nato. She certainly is a bright young woman and reading her essays, when she was younger, was always a pleasure. I remember that I once photocopied a piece of work on an American painting since I found it so good.

Her parents are my colleagues and I have been invited, along with another English teacher, to a little farewell party on Thursday.

Therefore I am looking for ideas of something to give her she could take with her. I was thinking that a book that would be set in Virginia would be a fine idea but really can’t think of one.

Any suggestion anyone?

Double Weekly Review with Flower


On My Blog

Photo Meme:
Views from my (Classroom) Windows

Students’ Heroes, part I

Student’s Heroes, part II

Japanese, Organic and Kosher

Downs and Ups

Ramen Stir-Fry

Soba Alla Tonnolese

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Leora shares a recipe for Vegetarian Chopped Liver

Meet Reader Leah Schapiro + Homemade Chumus, on Cooking Manager

Hannah wonders about the Legal Age of Marriage: 18, 17, or . . . 15?

Heblish raises one’s IQ according to Mrs. S.

J.C. article: Lithuania to look at its wartime record

In the Forward: In a Rich Irony, German Jews Defend Muslims

The Ten Suggestions? Thoughts on Parashat Yithro by Rabbi Marc D. Angel

Shabbat Shalom!

Soba Alla Tonnolese


– 2 cloves garlic, crushed
– 1 or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
– 1 small jar or can of tomato sauce
– 1 can tuna, drained
– oregano
– 1 pkg of soba

Sauté the garlic in some olive oil in a wok. Add the chopped tomatoes, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tuna, mix well, pour the tomato sauce over the tuna mixture and sprinkle with oregano. Simmer for another ten minutes.

Meanwhile cook the soba noodles according to package instructions. When the noodles are ready, rinse them under cold water and add to the wok. Serve as soon as the noodles are hot.

Option: Sprinkle the dish with grated or Parmesan cheese

Soba is a type of thin Japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour so perfect for a gluten-free diet

Downs and Ups


I reckon that one of the reasons why I have not been blogging so much since September is the situation at work. The school I teach at – a French state school – has been going from bad to worse in the past few years.

Although we still have some great students, we also seem to have more than a fair share of rude, lazy, inconsiderate teenagers who spend their time texting from their phones and fail to understand why this enrages us.

Some colleagues are off-sick because they suffer from burn out or depression. Only this morning an experienced economics teacher burst into tears at 8 because of a violent incident that had happened yesterday evening and which meant she felt she could not face her class today.

I personally have an ongoing battle with a business class about coats (which they refuse to take off), textbooks (which they don’t bother to bring to class), note taking (which they try to avoid) and endless conversations (between themselves). I try not to give up because of what I believe a decent lesson should be like but it’s hard.

Dialogue with the administration is not easy. The deputy head blames everything on our inability to deal with students and is convinced that he would do a much better job if he were in our shoes. This obviously does not help and only creates more tension and frustration. The head is new, which means he is still very cautious in his dealings with the whole staff.

As a result, in December, we decided to unite and work together to improve the situations on several fronts. We made a list of the people who are sick and tired of the whole situation, asked them to email their complaints and organized a three-hour meeting (at the beginning of January) which 50 teachers attended and during which we drew up a list of problems and (suggested) solutions. This resulted in a short meeting with the administration yesterday where they agreed to consider our points and discuss them with us at the beginning of March.

So far we are not sure much will come out of this but the climate in the staff room has improved. People are more talkative and some colleagues now dare to share their problems. This is a small step albeit an important one in a profession where people are reluctant to admit failures and difficulties.

Ramen Stir-Fry


– 2 pkgs. pre-cooked Ramen noodles
– 2-3 eggs
– half a Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 1 or 2 carrots, coarsely grated
– soy sauce

Whisk the eggs and make an omelet. Cook it slowly so that it does not brown and remains a little runny. Once it is ready, cut it into small pieces and set aside.

Get a Wok heated up – before putting the oil in! This is important in that it keeps the oil from burning. Test how hot the pan is by putting one to two drops of water; it if sizzles away immediately, it is hot enough.

Put in about 1 tablespoon oil – just enough to cover the pan (or Wok) bottom and sides. Put Chinese cabbage in oil stirring constantly. Add garlic and then carrots. Put soy sauce to taste. After five minutes everything should be cooked quite nicely.

Turn the heat down a little and dd the ramen noodles stirring constantly. Mix in the omelet. Add soy sauce if necessary and serve immediately.

Japanese, Organic and Kosher


Since I embarked on a new diet, I have naturally bought a number of Japanese products (ramen noodles, soy sauce, miso soup). This afternoon, I went to the local organic store, not necessarily to purchase Japanese foods, but to check what they had in store and find inspiration for upcoming meals.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Clearspring, a British brand which specializes in quality Japanese , Oriental and European foods. Not only are the products I bought from Japan and organic, but they are also kosher certified.

Now I wish I had realized they also kosher certified European products, such as olive oil, as I would have bought some. The siver lining is that the next visit to the store will be more fun as I’ll try to uncover what kosher products they stock.