20 October 2007

Saturday morning, 20 October 2007, Tapa

06 October 2007

Teacher's Day 2007

08.00 - First period: With the high school senior who was me for the day, we played my own version of bingo with a map of England to teach fifth graders what "to the north/south/east/west of" means.

08.55 - Second period: With the seniors teaching classes for the rest of the morning, the director of the Hallik Company in nearby Tamsalu came and spoke to all of us teachers about their business. Hallik, under the Hagar brand name, makes bread, including pretty good rolls and - do you believe it? - ciabatta. They make a well-meaning pizza "crust", too, but, like too many Estonians, they just don't know what a Chicago-style deep dish pizza really is. Check out the video on the Hallik homepage, to the right, under "Hagari pitsa". No, I just don't want to know what that white stuff is he is spreading on the pizza crust. You know, neither Estonia nor Finland know what Italian sausage is! I'm afraid I'm going to find out that it is an American invention, despite the "Italian" name.

09.55 - Third period: Kristiina Ojuland, a member of the Estonian Parliament, spoke to us teachers. She spoke in Estonian but quickly gave with me the impression that she was a no-nonsense, shoot-from-the-hip type of person who knew what the hell was going on. One of my colleagues, a math teacher, called her a real "daam", Estonian for "dame" with all of the English class rather than the American connotations.

10.55 - Fourth period: Üllar Saaremäe, a member of Rakvere Theatre, a professional theatre ensemble just 20 minutes from Tapa, told us a few stories about the teachers he had when he was in school.

12.00 - Fifth period: I played basketball. Three teachers, the school's business manager, the school's director, and me played six remarkably tall and unbelievably fast boys from the senior class. We played two 15-minute halves. We may have been up by one point at halftime but got beat by more than 10 points. I went one for two and missed two easy free throws. Yet the real victory was that my 46-year-old ankles and knees held up as we ran up and down the court trying to snatch the ball from those 18-year-olds.

13.00 - Sixth period: Together, the teachers and the seniors were treated to a concert by Kait Tamra, a big guy with long hair and hints of Neil Diamond in his voice. Generally, I think all Estonian music, especially the songs the children sing, sounds the same. But every once in a while I get broadsided by some great original Estonian music. Music by the rock 'n' roll band Propeller blew me away in May. After the Tamra concert, Urmas Tamm, the maavanem of Lääne Virumaa - essentially the governor of the state - presented each of us with a certificate of appreciation. I know Mr. Tamm from my Peace Corps days, when he was just the mayor of Tamsalu. So after the presentations, I went up to him to say hello. I looked at him and asked "Kak deela?", and he looked at me and asked "How are you?" I knew his English was not very good and, because my Estonian was not very good, we would exchange greetings in Russian. Well, later that night, the director told me that Mr. Tamm had recently taken a two-week course in English in London!

14.00 - Seventh period: Cake and coffee in the student lounge.

15.00 - Eighth period: Late lunch -school's treat - at Jäneda's famous Musta Täku Tall, or the Black Stallion Stable.

23.30 - Last period: Bedtime.

You Just Never Know For Sure about Estonia

Well, damn. I got to see Brooke Burns on Estonian television in July. Unfortunately, there were more twists and turns in one episode of Hawaiian Paradise (North Shore in the US) than on a roller coaster at New York New York (check out the video). I was so sea sick (yes, I'm mixing my methaphors) after a half-dozen episodes that I stopped watching it. I understand that Nicole married the guy, and just when they could have lived happily ever after (the show was cancelled), the guy's car exploded. Just so nothing happened to Brooke's legs, posture, and smile (yes, in that order).

Now, out of the blue, much to my delight, Eddy Monsoon and Patsy Stone have stumbled onto Estonian television! I guess Patsy really sort of does look like Brooke, but Patsy...Patsy doesn't have Brooke's smile!