Tag Archives: college

In Cake of Emergency.

One day I will sue my workplace for comfort food eating.

In other news – enrolment has been a roller-coaster ride (and continues to be so today I assume but I’m not there hoorah) with graphics so popular that I’ve been encouraged to up my hours and take on a second class. Which is also possibly the case for the computer games class too but I don’t think my hours can be upped on that course.


While enrolling the Fine Art teacher and I decided that were cake not provided immediately then we would both explode so I went to buy a slice of therapy, photographed it and drew on it this morning in the very lovely ArtRage app on my trusty iPhone 5S. I think this is before said teacher and the new (and brilliant) Photography teacher called me the rubbish Muskateer*.

*by which I mean that we were all talking about whether we should cosplay at Eurogamer as the Three Muskateers and Kath the ‘graph (as I’ve now decided to nickname her) said Porthos was the rubbish one. I like to think he’s not, and I’d be stepping into the shoes of Oliver Reed as I cosplay, so there.

Dancing in the Digital Forest.

As if the start of an academic year wasn’t chaotic enough, with the normal enrolment, paperwork, risk assessments, welcome packs and so on to be done I’ve also got the World Skills Festival to concern myself with. It should be ace, and terrifyingly huge. Apparently they are geared up to have around 7,500 people coming in every half hour and the Digital Forest is one of the first things that will be seen by main entrance 2. And there’s only two entrances.


What isn’t terrifying is the concept: lots of people draw trees and those trees are placed into a digital forest which is shown on HDMI screen for all to see. It’s a collaborative artwork sort of thing I’ve now done several times and I can’t wait to see how this one looks in situ, although tbh the reality in my mind is always constrained by the budget I have to work to. What’s mind blowing is the potential numbers which tbh scares the wotsits out of me.

But hey, a chance to show off iPad, DSi XL and desktop artwork off, and the work of my students, and all sorts of all sorts and it’ll be ace. In many ways I can’t wait, but… but… only three weeks away AARGH!

Best of all, potentially, are the possible desks that we’ll be working on. Which sounds silly I know, but the digital forest has the capacity to be printed and shown on some AWESOME platforms which I can’t wait to get my hands on and see. Ace ace ace stuff. But that piece of paper is yet to be signed and agreed so can’t mention it just yet. Hope all of this comes out of my mind onto the stage in similar fashion.

But, mainly, AARGH! Scary.

About to make a scary decision.

Not that it has to be made on Monday necessarily but… scary…

Basically I now have two choices in front of me: stay in the place I am knowing that it’s likely to get a HECK of a lot more stressful over the coming year and, worse still, by staying there I may well be targeted to be the fall guy for a departments failings or b: leave (or at least drop my hours to the extent that I’ve all but left) and concentrate on freelance again, which in itself is stressful but hopefully a lot more fulfilling.

Actually, written like that it seems a fairly cut and dried choice… But… there’s so many buts. We need a new roof on the house so it’s a terrifying time to make such a big decision. Similarly my son begins his new schooling at a special need secondary – scary (for both of us) but will staying at work give us solidity or a basis of stress that defines all else.

The main but is the biggest. I can’t imagine ever leaving a college group mid course, especially one that has had as fractious and infuriating a time as the one I’m currently working with. Without divulging too much of a staff team of five they’ve had two repeatedly off with long term illnesses and a lot of messing about with rooms and… well, all sorts… Myself and one other teacher have tried as hard as we could to keep things going on an even keel and for the students… I don’t know. The egotistical viewpoint would be to say that my leaving would affect the course badly, and I think it would have a detrimental effect. But I’m not irreplaceable, so should not assume to be so. But if they didn’t manage to appoint, or worse still the new appointee ended up causing more issues? I’d feel very bad, selfishly putting my hopes and dreams in front of the students welfare.

But then again I’d also be putting my health in front of that – this year has been very stressful and I’ve never felt as poorly in a range of ways.

Anyhow, this is the week of the decision I think, I just don’t know, for certain or sure, what the decision will be. Troubling. Wifey has suggested that now is the time for me to branch out of my own and I would still have teaching hours at the college, just not as many as I’ve had this year gone by. Then again, this year gone by has had a massively detrimental effect on most aspects of me.

Tricky. I think I know what the decision will come to be, then again I am often talked round. I don’t like upsetting people and students are asking me to let them know I’ll be there next year.


Different subject: as opposed to the SAR report I should currently be doing I did this.

((being a photo I took while walking my mum around a garden show. I do prefer the original, but like the idea of a pair of eyes being the windows to another garden…))


Dream #97

So I’m a dreamer. Occasionally this is a good thing – something like the 5 Guildford Big Book Draws could only have come out of dreaming up something amazing and seeing it through to final outcome, the Dr Sylver books came out of dreams and hopes, the IAMDA UK meet up required a lot of dreaming to see through to completion…

Sometimes it’s a bad thing. I want and hope for so much… I see some things, outcomes that I think could be amazing, in my head so clearly that I then find it hard to accept that in all likelihood they won’t come to be or, worse still, others will come up with similar outcomes and I’ll be left with the double regret of a missed opportunity and the envy of someone else’s fortune or timing. I still remember, years ago, having a series of arguments with the team working on Burning Ambition (a PC adventure game which was never released in the end) that it would be a good thing to have the characters head follow your mouse cursor around when it came near to it, to linger on areas of the screen which required attention etc. No-one gave it any credence and few agreed that my idea made sense. And then Grim Fandango came out and, amongst other things it did so, so right, the character’s eyes followed the mouse cursor around and seemed that much more alive. Ironically in this case (bearing in mind the lead character is an undead skeleton). It still riles me to this day, not that we would have been first by that point and not that we would have been better. But I could see it so clearly and I knew it would work. And it did, just for someone else.

Let me tell you about the current dream/heartache, because I’m in the ‘painted into a corner, expecting it to be added to the list of missed opportunities’ point of proceedings.

A while ago the college I (currently*) work for heavily suggested I enter the courses and students I teach to a large scale London educational shindig. Wiser heads than mine said ‘yes’ while entering a pitch which was never likely to proceed. I should have listened to them, I think, but instead (because I’m a dreamer and an idiot) I thought up a pitch that I thought would look lovely: The Digital Forest.

You see I LOVE collaborative artwork, seeing people draw for the first time in years, seeing ideas come to be, creating something that they thought would be way past their abilities and smiling in an ‘I did that’ way…. It’s why I loved being a youth worker and love being a teacher. So I thought: if we could get loads of people drawing trees and then get everyones tree into a forest that would be brilliant. :egozilla smiley to show I’m acknowledging my egotisticalness whilst pretending to be ironic:

The original idea in my head was for a large picture with all of the trees, growing as the days went on. And then I thought – that would look amazing if they were animated, 50 trees drawn by experienced and new artists alike, all waving gently according to a digital breeze, all lit and tinted by a digital day and night cycle.

Fab. And in a trade show, I’m sure we all know how much fun they are, an oasis of calm, a gentle forest which had been made by participants, I loved the idea of us all building a forest and stopping to watch it.

Plan B is for us to have a Flash file with 50 symbols, each set to invisible, each with their own animated settings. People would draw their trees on iPad (had I mentioned it’s a mobile device art showcase ?) and these images would be sent to a central server. Then a student would paste the image onto the symbol, set it to visible and, bobs your apple, the forest has begun and, over three days, would grow into something more and more amazing by the hour, by the participant.

But that’s Plan B. I dream of Plan A. An app on an iPad, where all of the art is drawn on iPads and sent to the iPad with the forest app. Everything in iDevice, everything automated. I want the app to be a continuous forest, limited to the trees it can show rather than a production line of students adding images to a set template. I want to see the app grow not only on the day but in sessions afterwards. I’d take the iPads to a special needs group and get them to do their own forest, to the IT students and do theirs, and do a master forest with everyones trees in as well. I’d like to see a list of forests, all done by different groups of people, all choosable and viewable, with no other need than to be an interesting forest to travel to, to sit and watch and to let wave around you. I want anyone to be able to download the app and know that they could add their own tree if they wanted…



It’s a big dream. Ironically it’s not the biggest or most unattainable of dreams because at the end of the day there’s no AI, no variation, just a breeze, one animated symbol repeated on a grid/array and so on. But it’s utterly beyond me and I can’t see a huge amount of hope in seeing it done. We’ll see, I’ve asked around and someone may get back to me. But it would work, and that’s the frustrating thing, because I can’t make it work. Games like Electroplankton and apps like Koi pond have shown that something like this has a place, it’s just not a place I can get to, just one I can dream about…

Last year a group of students, some IT, some special needs and some art students,drew these trees on iPad and we had loads of fun doing it. Someday I want to see then move and wave in the breeze with my eyes, not just my heart. If only to refill my hope gland.

*I probably do still work for it, I don’t know, there’s a huge amount of paperwork obscuring my vision. We’re in the process of yet another consultation – my third in three years across different departments – and I’m in the process of filling in the forms etc to keep my job.

**Edit 1: At the moment I have four college students working on a demo. They’re good students so I’m at the hopeful stage. That said none of them have Action Script experience (the code base we’ve all agreed makes the most sense to work with) so… who knows. I’ll know something more solid in the next month I guess.


For a variety of reasons yesterday was not the best. When things are tricksome like that I do find myself hiding into drawing and this is what came out of my computer, twice. The first time the package crashed near completion losing all my work (the former being the softwares fault the latter mine), the second time it did crash again but I’d saved it close enough to the end to catch up and complete to a point where I was happy to go to sleep.

Anyhow, today? Dunno, will see. Do feel that my life’s just taken a 180 turn by being hit in the face but I’ve said that before and that’s when I got into teaching, maybe the next turn will be equally interesting.

Been a week, been a week, been a week….

Loooooooong time coming…


Said goodbye to one of my classes yesterday – the first of four groups I’ll see off this academic year – I’m only taking one class into next year – and it was a sad day! Was surprised but they’ve been an interesting group 🙂 Five more weeks and then it’ll be head down planning the next lot.

Apart from that? Survived Ofsted 🙂 College received a 2 overall, which is good, and our department was given a 3 which is satisfactory. They did say that if we had the results in and they were as projected we’d have had a 2.

Directly after my friday class ran off to get a train to Esher for the CBC show. Was good. Nice to see some old friends and some near neighbours. Had a lovely chat with someone who offered some very kind words on my writing (and to boot he had excellent taste in music too and beat me hands down for classic gigs attended…) so was glad to have been there. Dashed straight back to get to an exhibition of student artwork and then dashed from that to the pub where the tutors I work with were drinking the stress away. By this point it was about 6. They’d been in there an hour.

Oh boy.

Let’s just say that it was messy from then and only got messier… Some lovely chats and conversations though. Was glad I didn’t overimbibe though because we bumped into a number of students in the garden, one of whom had phoned in sick that day. Was glad to have the opportunity to stop by and say ‘glad to see you looking better’…

Apart from that? Hmmm nothing springs to mind, although there’s probably been loads. Big Buzz Out Loud fan so was amused to be namechecked twice in a week, sort of kind of. On monday I’d emailed in re: Chip and Pin. In Guildford a petrol station had moved the security cameras to film people putting in their pin numbers and been responsible for £1mill of fraud. To the best of my knowledge this doesn’t seem to be a hugely unusual circumstance as there often seems to be a story about some sort of card fraud of some sort. Anyhow I emailed in to say I didn’t really like Chip and Pin (for that reason) and they misread it and said one guy was paranoid about being filmed… ((I’m not paranoid… It’s not parano…Hang on, did the light on my isight camera just flash? Is it on? Anyhow… where was I?)) So I re-explained with web link about specific and there you go. Listen to it for years and then twice in a week get a vague mention… Funny old world.

In terms of turbulence the trickiest part of the week was definitely youth group. Was not there because of the aforementioned teacher mash up but left the pub at midnight to find four texts I’d not noticed come in. Turns out a kid who’d been asked not to come back until asked had turned up with a friend (we have a closed register to try and keep a track on numbers at the mo’). They were asked to leave, left using some specific language and hand gestures before we could phone a parent to explain (it was raining so we try and offer kids the chance to get lifts back if they’re not let in) and later the dad came round for a row. In fifteen years I can count the amount of times that his has happened on just over one hand but it always affects you when it does. So we’ll be there on friday as normal and I’ll be on door. I dare say it’ll calm down – nearly always does – but shame to end the half term on a barny especially as the people he shouted at in no way deserved it.

So, um, yeah. Busy week. Onwards. Teaching twice today then sleep, glorious sleep 🙂


((not that I often look back on these things but a band I wear bit the dust this week which made me sad for a couple of reasons. Again most know that I’m a huge fan of the wonderful band Onehundredhours. This band was one I picked up when they did a launch gig for my first book and has been worn ever since. In fact I’ve got an engage band on both wrists, one old and one new. Anyhow it snapped and has gone elsewhere… (Now I’m just down to five 🙁 It’s not an omen or something I’m superstitious about at all, but it did remind me about a good time in the past and remind me about how little energy I feel I have at the moment. Also: if you’re looking for a charity to support, even if only for a while, I can recommend www.engagehivaids.com give ’em a look, throw ’em some love.))

Ofsted apparently complete.

Unless they’re gonna REALLY surprise us tomorrow… We’ll see.

We’ve had advance word about what the full and final score will be and the Principle of the college will be telling us how it went in a chinwag which is due at the same time as I have to be in Esher so I’ll miss that one.

Ah well…

Still, we put on a good show in the art dept so yay us 🙂

Onwards. CBC tomorrow then celebratory drinks in the evening and then sleep, glorious sleep….

Exhibition mark 1.

So Ofsted into day 4. Haven’t heard from some people so don’t know who has and has not been observed. If I’m going to be done this afternoon is the most likely time but they’re a good group so with a bit of luck I’ll survive 🙂

Do set up an exhibition of work with the tech on saturday and here it am. Sure it’s allowed to post and did well with the restricted time we had (3 hours) and restricted space (two tables worth). Also was restricted in other ways – we wanted to put up loads of work – we had way more examples that could have been put up – but were ordered to go for a more restrained look. Personally I don’t think the boards were pristine enough for that but hey ho. Them’s the orders…



Want to get in there and take a couple of pics post ofsted to see how they left it but we’ll see…

big deep heartfelt sigh.

OK so work is calling but I NEED to do something unrelated, if only for a few minutes. Today was great, teaching wise, as all of the students seemed to come out of the lesson with a good image bar a couple of students who understood why it didn’t work for them (didn’t follow the steps in the correct order which, in itself is a valuable lesson to learn)…

alison_moyet-the_essential-small1Also pleasant was the fact that as I was going through the lesson I was showing the steps piece by piece and that image came out pleasantly so uploaded it is and then off to a meeting that’s gonna last for hours…