Eleven! – Tagged by @dougpete, @cgoodey and @yearinthelifeof

Not Ocean's Eleven : )

Not Ocean’s Eleven : ) (Image taken from http://www.musicland.in)

There is a great blog challenge making the rounds these days – and I have been tagged by three educators I admire tremendously (in order of tagging!): Doug Peterson in Canada, Carol Goodey in Scotland and Adam Simpson in Turkey. I have met Adam and Carol in person, but could it be 2014 that Doug and I will finally meet? I sure hope so! And I am sure it will happen in a Tim Horton’s ; )

So if you are tagged, here is what you need to do:

  1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  4. List 11 bloggers.
  5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 Random Facts About me

  1. I love reading and have around 500 books, which are multiplying like crazy : )
  2. I don’t know how to drive a car, ride a bike or swim.
  3. I am afraid of earthquakes, clowns and heights.
  4. I don’t like eating watermelon or honey, and I am allergic to apples, pears and kiwis.
  5. My oldest ancestor we managed to track down and lived in the 1700s, was French.
  6. Vicky is short for Vassiliki (a Greek name), which is my maternal grandmother’s name and means of royal descent : )
  7. I became a teacher by accident. As long as I remember myself, I wanted to be a lawyer : )
  8. While my sisters were amazing ballet dancers, I loved and played basketball.
  9. My favourite philosopher in university was (and in general is) Ludwig Wittgenstein, and I later discovered that we share the same birthday.
  10. I never drink alcohol (not my cup of tea) but I love coffee, tea and coca cola and drink loads.
  11. If I were to be told that I cannot live in Switzerland anymore, I would move to a Scandinavian country or Turkey : )

Now I hope you will be patient as I answer the questions:

Doug Peterson, Canada

Doug Peterson, Canada

Doug’s Questions:

  1. When was the last time you backed up your computer? I think it was in March – unfortunately, it crashed and asked me if I would like to back it up. I wish I had done it earlier, but I managed to save the majority of my files.
  2. If you could speak any language other than English, what would it be? I wish I could speak Turkish and Finnish fluently. They have always been languages that I would love to learn. I started off with Turkish and hope to start Finnish too.
  3. Where would you go for your dream vacation? I would love to go to Corsica, because I have been told a lot and shown lots of photos by a French student of mine.
  4. Have you ever received a parking ticket? No, because I don’t drive! Ha ha!
  5. You’re in control of the thermostat.  What’s your ideal room temperature? Really warm, because I get cold easily.
  6. Have you ever taken an online course? I have – it was a 60-hour TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course which I enjoyed immensely, and a Grammar one too.
  7. What was the last educational conference that you attended? It was the IATEFL BESIG (Business English) conference in Prague, in November. I loved the sessions, the conversations that emerged from them – but my only disappointment was that I didn’t manage to see Prague almost at all, as I was there for only two and a half days.
  8. When was the last time you were in a public library? Very recently – it is one f my favourite places to be : )
  9. Have you ever dabbled with Linux? No ; )
  10. What would you consider to be the best photo you’ve ever taken? A sunset over Lake Zug. The colours were astounding and I was really surprised it came out that good, as it was taken with my phone.
  11. What, and where, is your favourite park? I love the parks in Niagara-on-the-Lake (well, actually the whole place : )
Carol Goodey

Carol Goodey

Carol’s Questions:

  1. What do you most enjoy about blogging? I love writing, and I love the comments – they make me think and I learn tons from them.
  2. Do you play a musical instrument? If not, would you like to? Which one? I don’t, but ever since I was little, I wanted to learn how to play the piano.
  3. How far do you travel to work? How do you travel? I used to commute a lot for my work up until I opened my new school, but now I commute very little, to some company classes. I take the train (takes 13 minutes)!
  4. What do you enjoy most about the work that you do? The interaction with the students and the fact that there is a whole variety of cultures and ages: one hour I am teaching a four-year-old, the next an adult!
  5. What was the first thing you ate today? Coco Pops! That healthy ; )
  6. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? Why? Canada, because I terribly miss it!
  7. What month next year are you most looking forward to? Why? July, because my baby sister is getting married!
  8. What meal do you prepare most often for friends? Roasts and salads.
  9. What was the last movie you saw? What did you think? I saw Night on Earth and I loved it! It is five stories happening in a taxi, in five different cities, on the same day : ) It was in English, French, Italian and Finnish.
  10. What three things do you like to have with you when working? My tablet or computer, so I can check in on social media in the breaks, tea and lots of coloured pens!
  11. What do YOU think about reality TV shows? I don’t watch any, because I don’t have a TV : )
Adam Simpson

Adam Simpson

Adam’s Questions:

  1. I am aware of the phenomenon called ‘twerking’ but I don’t really know what it is. Do you? Would you explain it to me in one sentence? Some form of dance? *hides*
  2. The Soviet Union still exists. Why does this make you happy / sad? It does?
  3. What did you eat for dinner last night? Farfalle bolognese with tons of parmesan cheese.
  4. I’m new to this planet. Tell me what a dog looks like. It’s the cutest animal ever, with four legs and you can keep one at home!
  5. Go to YouTube and basically surf around until you find a song that you’ve never heard before. Share that song with us here. I just typed in the letter h and got Happy by Pharrell Williams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM
  6. The 60s or the 70s? Why? The 70s – I was born at the end of this decade of awesome music – The Clash is one of my favourite bands.
  7. Invent a word for something that doesn’t have a word to describe it. Share your word and description here. Now that is really hard!
  8. Would you prefer to be that guy from ‘Memento’ who wakes up and can’t remember the previous day, or that guy from ‘Groundhog Day’ who wakes up to exactly the same day over and over again? I haven’t seen either, but the second seems more appealing ; ) I’d be scared not to remember.
  9. Go to this YouTube video. Be honest, how long did you last? Two minutes! Ha ha!
  10. What are your thoughts on becoming one of the first Mars colonists? If there are books and chocolate, I’m going!
  11. Based on the way things are going, which language should we learn to be a good world citizen by the year 2030? A lot of people say Chinese. Perhaps?

Here are the bloggers I’d love to see take up the challenge, if they would like to:

  1. @yitzha_sarwono
  2. @theteacherjames
  3. @Chieka_slw06
  4. @Priscilamateini
  5. @rosemerebard
  6. @leoselivan
  7. @michaelegriffin
  8. @AnneHendler
  9. @JosetteLB
  10. @FLCasella
  11. @tamaslorincz

And my questions for them would be:

  1. If you were not an educator, what line of work would you imagine yourself in?
  2. Which person in ELT would you like to meet in person and why?
  3. What new activity / hobby would you like to start?
  4. Which is the best book you have recently read? Why?
  5. If you could change one thing in the world, what would that be?
  6. Which is the nicest destination you have visited so far and why?
  7. If you decided to write a book, what would it be about?
  8. What is your favourite song this period?
  9. What is your favourite and least favourite food?
  10. Which is the next conference you plan to attend?
  11. With whom from the PLN was your first meeting in person? What was it like?

Thank you Doug, Carol and Adam! And thanks in advance to those bloggers who choose to take up the challenge!

Presenting the ELTForum.sk 2014 Conference – Call for Speakers

Vicky Loras:

Last June I couldn’t make it – but I followed it through social media, and the conference was a huge success! Next June though, I am going to be there and I am also honoured to be part of the conference social media team.

Join us there! Have you got an idea to share? A project you are working on that we could learn from? Fill in the speaker proposal…and see you in Bratislava!

Originally posted on ELTforum.sk Conference 2015:

eltforum.sk Proposal FormAll of us here at ELTForum.sk are delighted to announce our Conference, which will take place in Bratislava, on June 6 and 7, 2014, at the Ekonomická univerzita v Bratislave. And here is where you come in: we want you to be part of it! Have you got an idea for a talk or workshop? Fill in the proposal form and join us on the two days of the conference. More details to be announced soon!

The Conference Theme: Building Blocks of ELT: Language, Learner and Vision

Teaching is like building a house. We dream a little, we draw up the plans and we prepare the necessary materials. And then the hard work begins. The foundations we lay are set in hope and enthusiasm, but often with sweat and sometimes with frustration. However, without solid foundations, our work is a waste of time and effort and, ultimately, what we…

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A roving reporter’s first visit to Hungary

Originally posted on IATEFL-Hungary blog:

My First Visit to (IATEFL) Hungary – Vicky Loras

Several months ago, I was checking my Facebook status and I saw that IATEFL Hungary had just put out a call for submissions for their October 2013 Conference. I “liked” it and shared it on my page, then went on to do other things but I was still thinking about it. I had seen the great things the IATEFL Hungary group had done the previous year at Eger and I was so impressed. So I just returned to the page again, submitted a proposal and crossed my fingers!

A few days later, Norbert Galik, the Vice-President messaged me to ask if I would like to be one of the roving reporters! I was thrilled to be part of such a great team. Educator friends of mine had also submitted proposals – some months later, my proposal was accepted so it was…

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The Loras Network interviews Claudia Buzzoni (ELT Consultant for Macmillan Education)- Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Originally posted on Eugenia Loras:

Loras Network (L.N.): Claudia, thank you so much for giving us this interview. We are so excited that you will have a presentation at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism!

Claudia Buzzoni (C. B.): Thank you! I’m really looking forward to speaking at your workshop next month. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart as my oldest daughter is just starting to put together her first sentences in both Swiss German and English.

L.N.: Claudia, we met you as the representative for Macmillan Publications. Can you tell us a few things about yourself and your work?

C. B.: I’ve been with Macmillan Education for the past three and a half years. I work closely with a wide range of private and public school teachers throughout the country, helping them to select and implement different teaching materials. Outside of work, I’m studying linguistics and German and…

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The Loras Network interviews Dr Muhammad Aslam Sipra – Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Originally posted on Eugenia Loras:

Loras Network (L.N.): Dr. Sipra, we really appreciate this interview you are giving us. We are delighted that you will present at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

Dr. Sipra: Thank you very much for inviting me to this interview. I feel very honoured to be one of the speakers of the Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

L.N.: Initially, we would like to ask you what drew you into the field of education.

Dr. Sipra: Frankly speaking, I never thought of joining the field of education or teaching. I joined the teaching profession with the intention that I would quit this job as soon as I get any managerial or administrative position. As the time went by, I worked hard in this profession and gradually started enjoying university teaching. Presently, I can’t think of any other job and teaching is my passion now.


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The Loras Network interviews Alex Rawlings – Speaker at the 1st International Loras Network Workshop

Originally posted on Eugenia Loras:

Loras Network (L.N.): Alex, we would like to thank you very much for this interview. We are also very happy that you will be presenting at our 1st Loras Network Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism.

L.N. : Alex, we first saw you in a BBC video, being presented as the UK’s most multilingual student, with a total of eleven languages. Can you give us some background as to how and why you learned so many languages?

Alex Rawlings (A.R.): Languages started off as a hobby for me and quickly turned into a passion. I speak Greek from childhood and studied French and German at school, but that never felt like enough! There were so many people out there in the world that I wanted to talk to, and I didn’t want to restrict them to those I had a common language with. I picked up some language courses from…

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Feat No 14: Our 1st Workshop on Bilingualism and Multilingualism in Language Learning and Families

Vicky Loras:

Join us for our 1st Workshop on Bilngualism and Multilingualism in Zug, Switzerland!

Originally posted on Eugenia Loras:

As a parent, I have been in doubt and under pressure when raising my children initially bilingually and later on multilingually. And there have been times that I have had to:
– study hard on the topic,
– invest in resources,
– be loyal to a plan or method,
– commit to a schedule,
– exchange feedback with other parents with similar experiences,
– accommodate ideas to our family life and all that… while trying to make it as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

As a teacher, I have been encouraging language learning and teaching an additional language to a monolingual speaker or to an already bilingual one for almost eighteen years. And there have been times during that role that I have had to:
– study hard on the topic,
– learn through numerous experiences of teaching all ages and all levels,
– invest in resources,

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Journals and Magazines – PD in Focus 5

Snapshot of Icha Sarwono's article for ETAS Journal, Switzerland

Snapshot of Icha Sarwono’s article for ETAS Journal, Switzerland

Another very important aspect of professional development is reading and writing for educational journals and magazines. Almost every teaching association in various countries around the world has one, be it a paper journal or online or even an online newsletter, which is shorter. Some associations offer the journals included in the membership fee, which can be very helpful – however there are also magazines that do not belong to associations but are related to language teaching, like Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional, to name a couple.


  • Why is it so important to read them? Well first of all, to learn from them. So many colleagues share loads of teaching ideas in their articles, which we can adopt and adapt in our own classes. They can keep you feeling inspired and motivated for the next class!
  • It can also make us think critically, because we cannot possibly agree with everything written. We can choose what fits our classes and our methodology and  use it accordingly.
  • Some articles focus on research or other theoretical issues and can help teachers enrich their knowledge, or even help them with their studies, as many educators continue their studies.


  • Share your ideas with other educators! Write for journals and magazines – it helps you to also practise your writing skills. A lot of educators reading your articles might then contact you to give you feedback on your writing, for instance how much it helped them, or any kind of feedback, which is also welcome. Then you can see what you can continue writing about, what you can improve and so on. Just try doing it!

From Zug to Belgium – A BELTA Webinar

BELTA Belgium

BELTA Belgium

Today was the day of the first webinar for BELTA Belgium, a great new association for English teachers in Belgium and everywhere, in fact! BELTA was founded by James Taylor, Mieke Kenis, Ellen de Preter, Guido van Landeghem and Jurgen Basstanie. You can read more about the foundation of BELTA and also watch the launch event here.

I was asked to do the first webinar for BELTA, which I accepted with great joy and honour. The topic was Professional Development for Now and the Future: A Guide to 2013 and you can watch the slideshow below:

I have also created a PDF file with the most useful links.

BELTA Presentation – Useful Notes

Here is the link with the recording of the webinar, which will also be published on the BELTA blog, Facebook and Twitter.

A huge thank you to BELTA and everyone who was there (including my parents!), in the Adobe Connect room and to my sister, Eugenia, who was there in the same room as I was, cheering us all on (and also helped me find a title to this blog post)!

A screen capture of the webinar (Photo by Roseli Serra)

A screen capture of the webinar (Photo by Roseli Serra)

Mike Griffin: Reflecting and Reviewing, But Not Ranting : ) (@michaelegriffin)

Mike Griffin (Photo by Mike Griffin)

Mike Griffin (Photo by Mike Griffin)

I am extremely happy to present you with an interview I have been thinking about for a very long time with one of the people I admire tremendously. Mike Griffin! I connected with Mike in December 2011 on Twitter initially – he stood out for being one of those educators who has great opinions and ideas on education. He also has an amazing sense of humour! I was so happy that he started his own blog, which contains super pieces of writing. Mike blogs at ELT Rants, Reviews and Reflections. Heeeeere’s Mike!

Vicky: First of all, a huge thank you for accepting to do this interview – as you know, you are one of my favourite people on Twitter and Facebook, so this is a huge honour for me!

Mike:  The pleasure and honour is all mine! #Whoop! Thanks so much for having me. It has been such fun getting to know you on those channels.

Vicky: You teach in South Korea as a lot of us know, as you are one of the most well-known people in the PLN and offer lots to educators on a daily basis. However, can you tell us where and what kind of classes you have, for the people who meet you for the first time?

Mike: I live and work in Seoul. My “day job” is teaching in the graduate school of a university here. I guess it is easiest to say that I have two different jobs within that job. In the first, I teach Business English, Academic English, or Discussion-focused classes for grad students in the International Studies major. In the second I run weekly seminars in simultaneous interpretation for students doing an MA in interpretation and translation. Students come into class with a Korean speech that they read while others interpret simultaneously and I frantically listen to as many interpretations as I can. After that students give each other feedback on what they heard and then I do my best to answer questions and give feedback on what I heard. Everyone always wonders if my Korean ability is good enough for this. It’s not. I actually just listen to the English anyway.

Additionally, I have been (co-)teaching Curriculum Development on the New School MATESOL program for a few terms. I also work on a trainer/mentor training course for public school teachers.  I feel pretty busy after writing that.
As for being well-known, that is news to me!

Vicky: Well, it’s the truth! Was teaching your first choice as a profession?

Mike: Not really. Kind of. I am not sure. I actually entered university as an Education major but switched to History shortly thereafter. I thought I might like to be a history teacher for a while but then the allure of living in other cultures was too much.

Vicky: How did you get to Korea in the first place and what do you like the most about living there? Was there anything that surprised you in your first few months there?

Mike: I decided in my final term during my undergrad I wanted to teach and travel. Korea jumped out at me for a few reasons. It was far away and seemed different. At that time (12+ years ago now) not a lot of people knew about Korea, especially as compared to Japan. I was interested in going to a place that was not so widely known. I was also interested in how Korea was changing so rapidly and had undergone such dramatic changes in the past 50 years. I was lucky enough to get in contact online with a Canadian guy that was leaving his job and I appreciated how honest he was about the good and not-so-good things about the position.

The most surprising thing for me in my first few months in South Korea is the thing that still surprises me the most. Buildings go up so quickly! It is amazing. You might go somewhere you haven’t been in a month and see 3-4 new buildings. Even after all this time it still surprises me.

Vicky: You are a huge proponent of Reflective Practice in Teaching and one of the founders of the first RPSIG (Reflective Practice Special Interest Group) in the world, based in Korea. How did you enter this area of interest? How did you start the SIG?

Mike: Wow, great question. I was lucky enough to see and get connected a bit with Dr. Thomas Farrell at a special day-long workshop in 2008. Reflection was also a big part of my MATESOL at the New School as well as my training to be a World Learning/SIT Teacher Trainer. I saw a lot of benefits when I started trying to see my teaching as it was and started talking and writing about it. I guess reflection and reflective practice appealed to me before I even know what they were or what they were called.

Vicky: You present a lot at conferences throughout the year and do a lot of workshops for teachers. What do you enjoy the most about them?

Mike: I absolutely love the sound of my own voice. Wait, no, that is not the right answer. For the past few years I have been averaging about 1 presentation a month, which is something I am looking forward to cutting back on in 2013. I truly enjoy presenting and giving workshops, though. I find it is great learning opportunity for me to discover my hidden beliefs on certain areas as well as to explore thoughts and ideas that I was not so familiar with. The other thing I enjoy is helping teachers see how their experiences and thoughts matter and how they can make their own decisions about their classes.

Vicky: What would you advise teachers who are a bit reluctant to present?

Mike after a workshop (Photo by Mike Griffin)

Mike after a workshop (Photo by Mike Griffin)

Mike: Just start by starting. Don’t worry about being perfect or blowing people’s minds. Audiences are generally very supportive (especially if you come off as a fellow explorer and not an expert telling people what they *should be doing). I think it can be pretty nerve-wracking at first but it gets easier. My other advice would be that you don’t need to start out with big huge presentations but can start with smaller sessions for your colleagues or friends or something along those lines. I’d also advise being patient and not taking it personally if and when rejections come.

Vicky: Let’s move on to your blog, which is one of my absolute favourites. If I have to choose the top 5, yours is definitely among them. How did you start it and what inspires you to write?

Mike: Thanks so much! It is always great to get positive feedback but even better to get positive feedback from someone that you respect (and someone that has an excellent blog themself!).

I love blogging. I can’t believe it took me so long to get into it. I did dabble with student blogs and blogs that I ran for students back in the olde days of 2007 but I never thought about having my own blog. The constant nagging encouragement of my dear friend Josette LeBlanc (@josetteLB) who has an amazing blog over at tokenteach (http://tokenteach.wordpress.com/)  was the main push for me to blog. I joined Twitter in 2011 just after the KOTESOL International Conference after Chuck Sandy encouraged the audience in his fantastic presentation to do so. From there after engaging with the community having a blog seemed like a natural next step. I think Twitter is fantastic but the tyranny of 140 characters can be a bit strong at times so it is nice to have a space to share some thoughts.

As for my inspiration to blog, there are a few ideas and rants that I just needed to get out of my system and blogging has been great for that. I have noticed how the simple fact of just having a blog changes my thought process. For example, something interesting or strange might occur in class but now that I have a blog I sometimes think about these events under the lens of “How would I write about this in the blog?” and I think it tends to give me more/different insights than I would have otherwise. I guess I didn’t really answer your question about what inspires me to write but it is partially things I need to get off my chest, lessons I have learned that I want to share, questions I am working through, funny (in my opinion at least) stories I want to share, or other people’s ideas I want to share.

Vicky: You are very active on social media and share a great deal with educators all around the world. Can you give us some insight into how you use each medium and what you see as a benefit? Which downsides are there?

Mike: “Very active on social” media is a very nice way to put it. Haha. I am on the computer a lot for work and Facebook and Twitter are enticing breaks. I mostly use Twitter for professional things (though I am not afraid to be silly and whimsical) and Facebook for keeping in touch with friends and family and sharing random thoughts and links. In the past 6-10 months I have been adding more and more Twitter friends on Facebook and it has been interesting. I suppose “worlds colliding” could be a potential downside but I have been lucky enough (as far as I know) to not experience negative impact from merging my professional and personal digital selves. I think there are always risks inherent in any sort of communication but I have been very pleased with my social “networking for professional development experiment.” I guess I mostly share links and try to connect with people. I have been thrilled to discover amazing people who work in similar as well as drastically different contexts in Korea and around the world. Pooling knowledge and ideas with educators around the world has been an inspiring experience.

Vicky: Before our interview, I asked you which your favourite ELT book is and yours is Understanding Teaching Through Learning. Can you give us some details about it – why would you recommend it? By the way, I have already ordered it and thank you for that!

Mike: That is great news! That book was a great intro for me about many things related to teacher training and reflection. It is also a great source of ideas and material for running workshops. I think the authors did a great job of taking complicated ideas and making them accessible and engaging. Something I especially love about that book is how it offers something for teacher across all experience levels.

Mike's reading recommendation (image taken from http://www.amazon.com)

Mike’s reading recommendation (image taken from http://www.amazon.com)

Vicky: Now let’s move on to Mike outside teaching. What do you enjoy doing when you have a spare moment?

Mike: I don’t have as many spare moments as I would like but traveling and reading are at the top of my list. Combining the two and reading on a beach in a new country is blissful for me.

Aside from my big interest in ELT am also interested in sports, movies, comedy, business, politics, and suddenly social networking.

Vicky: I asked you about your favourite movie before I interviewed you and it is The Big Lebowski – to be honest, I have never seen it, even though I have heard about it before. I had homework to do and learn more about it! Please tell us more about it and why you like it.

Mike:  You have to see it! It’s hilarious. It is also one of those movies that gets better the more you see it. I don’t just recommend watching it once, I recommend watching it at least 5 times. Then things will make a bit more sense. I found it extremely witty and funny and I was especially impressed with the dialogue. I won’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the fun for you. I imagine when you (finally) see it you might recognize some of the lines because people have been saying them around you for years.

Vicky: Nerdy question coming up: have you ever taught with it?

Mike: That is a really #TESOLgeek –y question! It is also a great idea because I have never used it in class. Some of the dialogues would be great. I am imaging it now. I think you might be a bit out of your element if I start telling you what scenes would be good so I will wait for you to get back to me.

Vicky: Mike, a huge thank you for this interview, for your insight and your time. I really hope to meet you face to face soon!

Mike: Thank YOU. Thank you for having me. Thank you for all the support. Thanks for all the laughs and smiles. Thank you for all the sharing and community building that you do. And thank you for being you. Rock on!

(I am very much looking forward to meeting you face to face. I am willing to go on record that all the cake you can eat will be my treat!)

Vicky’s Notes: I would like to thank Mike very much for helping me find a title for his blog – wordplay on his blog title! And thank you – I never say no to cake!