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Richard Walker

A Messenger from Inside

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 20 Aug 2015, 01:25

John Hull wrote "Touching the Rock”.

If you want to feel blindness, read this book. We can never understand anything by covering our eyes.


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Richard Walker

On a hot day, the door being open

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 19 Aug 2015, 01:02

On a hot day, the door being open

A Robin flew briefly into my kitchen.

Perched on the back of a chair.

I froze. From where I sat its legs were so slender

That I wondered how they could support even that tiny weight.

When my Robin glanced around, I even (stupidly),

Thought it might see me as a friend.

And not be afraid as it flew away.

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Richard Walker

Existence

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Peeing in a corner,

A cat.

Or a Buddhist.

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Richard Walker

Sigmund and I

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 18 Aug 2015, 00:42

Recently I've had a bad spell of Meralgia paresthetica (from? Greek meros=thigh + algos=pain + para=around + aistheme=I feel. I guessed some bits but that's the idea.)

It's a very strange and uncomfortable sensation on the outside of the thigh. For me, it's like having something very heavy and clunky in your pocket, always weighing on the thigh, not exactly hurting -- but sort of -- even though the pocket is completely empty.

It's caused by a particular nerve being pinched as it radiates from the spinal chord to the thigh itself. I've had this from time to time since the 70s but it flares up now and then.

Poor me. But then I read that Sigmund Freud had the same condition, so I am in illustrious company.

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Richard Walker

Pavlova's dogs

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 17 Aug 2015, 02:44
The feet of a famous ballerina

I couldn't resist this.



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Richard Walker

A Week of Pundays

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 16 Aug 2015, 02:13

Munchday
Cheeseday
Wafflesday
Thirsty
Friesday
Snacksday
Bunday

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Richard Walker

A Walled Garden

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Oh Mrs Rib and Mr Dust

How shall we know who we can trust?

When the gardener standing by

Has set a trap for you and I.

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Richard Walker

About 'The Fair Queen'

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This poem brings together the dream marriage scene from Roy Andersson's "You, the Living" and an ancient legend and ballad "Thomas the Rhymer".

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Richard Walker

The Fair Queen of Elfland

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 12 Aug 2015, 01:12
There I was, waiting, as a pilgrim.
For the procession to cross the rainbow bridge.

      To my astonishment.

You picked me from the crowd. Ran down and drew me up.
Kissed me on the lips. Everyone clapped and cheered.

      They wished us so much happiness.

But I must never speak again.
Except as a blind prophet.
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Richard Walker

On The Rainbow Bridge

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 02:20

Last night at sunset I saw a beautiful iridescent cloud, the best example I have ever witnessed.

Sunset sky with a bright iridesent cloud

The photo was taken from my mobile phone and gives no idea at all really, but I hope you can just about see that the shiny cloud in the middle displays a range of bright pastel colours, rather like mother-of-pearl.

These clouds are quite rare. They are caused by sunlight shining through clouds whose water droplets (or ice crystals) are all the same size in any small part of the cloud but vary in size between one part of the cloud and another. They act a bit like an oil-slick on a puddle.

Atmospheric optics are an interest of mine. The most familiar example is a rainbow, but there are many others. Sun dogs are commoner than rainbows, but less conspicuous so many people have never noticed one. But as soon as you become aware of them, perhaps just from a single example, you learn to recognize the cloud conditions when it's worth trying to spot a sun dog.

Here is a gallery of remarkable photos of iridescent clouds.

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Richard Walker

Autumn

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 10 Aug 2015, 02:12

Leaves, why look back

Shouldn't we look forward?

Homesickness.
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Richard Walker

Death and Transfiguration

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 10 Aug 2015, 01:01

When the head stuck out of the glacier
There was consternation
But looking into the records carefully preserved
Carefully preserved by the bureaucracy of the time.

They had an inkling of who it might be
So they sent down in to the valleys for ideas.

After time and search they found me.
Did I want to come up there or them to me?
They thought it was my father. I ascended. He was so young.


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Richard Walker

Gone

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A very mild man

So polite

Always drank the weakest beer and

never bitter.

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Richard Walker

Report on migrant 0425

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 9 Aug 2015, 04:27
About 0425

Iraheta Guardado, 37, from Honduras (murder rate 45 x US). Husband killed in cross-fire some years ago, mother supports two young children.

Tired of violence, hoping to send money home, Iraheta decides to emigrate to the USA, to join her sister working in New York. Chooses risk of crossing the border illegally to escape violence and help family.

Crossing 15 June 2012

Group of immigrants enter Texas. Iraheta faints after 75 miles, others press on.

Remains found 13 days later, scattered by predators. Some possessions recovered from vicinity: backpack, toothbrush, Doritos, can insect repellent. No ID. Unidentified body number 0425 buried in nearest town.

Identifying Iraheta

Many immigrants die crossing borders. In the Texan county where this death occurred, over a third of its population live below the poverty line. Authorities don't have the resources to identify all the bodies and many are buried anonymously.

However Lori E. Baker from Baylor University was appalled by this and instigated an effort by forensic anthropologists to help identify the people concerned.

Various different people and agencies were involved in the team. The group exhumed 75 migrants and attempted to identify them.

The story of how they identified 0425 is a triumph of humanity and science. It's an extraordinary detective story as well. It filled me with sadness but hope. It's been on my mind a lot.

If you are logged into the Open University you can download the Scientific American article here. I hope you will. It is very moving.

If you can't access the article there is summary here.

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Richard Walker

Grove Made Silly

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Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 7 Aug 2015, 04:30
Sample definitions from our upbeat Musipedia

Accent: A mishtake.
Baroque: Badger (Or in US pronunciation: having no money.)
Barcarolle: Bundle of notes.
Breve: Inhale.
Clef: Precipice.
Dissonance: Insult to aunts.
Gong: Departed.
Keyboard: Fed up with key.
Lute: See viol.
Madrigal: Cross royal.
Metronome: Underground dweller.
Piu: Blind character in Treasure Island.
Spinet: Make it rotate (Alt: already consumed.)
Viol: Nasty.



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Richard Walker

Clerihew

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As far as we know it

No serious poet

Ever wrote a clerihew.

Or very few.

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Richard Walker

Haiku Without Title

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 6 Aug 2015, 00:45

a fly buzzing around

with no idea you exist.

summer visitor

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Richard Walker

Be geon burn glowendee

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Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 5 Aug 2015, 02:59

Here is my attempt at translation into Anglo Saxon.

cume drohte mid mec healsgebedda

be geon burn glowendee and ælfscíenee


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Richard Walker

Come to the bright stream

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 9 Aug 2015, 20:24
Purple spiked flowers by a stream

Come live with me my love

By a stream.

Glowing and bright.

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Richard Walker

Late summer haiku

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Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 4 Aug 2015, 04:00

Suddenly, late summer

the millstream's clogged.

All of us jostling against winter.


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Richard Walker

'Groans from The Grave', the latest instalment of our witchionary

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Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 3 Aug 2015, 03:48

Cemetery: Half a tree.

Elves:  Music legend.

Goblin: Shoe-making (sometimes assisted by Elves).

Gothic: Report illness.

Grave: Seriously illegal party.

Igor: Enthusiastic assistant.

Necromancer: A vampire.

Sorcery: I'm really sorry.

Vampire: Burning van.

Vault: Unit of electricity, as applied by Igor.

Wraith: Beams of light (fatal to a Vampire).

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Richard Walker

I saw and remembered

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Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 30 July 2015, 01:19

My parents wouldn't understand me now.

Even my neighbors grow rhubarb.

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Richard Walker

Hot From The Kitchen

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12 must-know definitions for the budding kitchenista

Boil: See sauce

Broil: Not common

Confit: Too big

Fillet: Try anyway

Grater: Less reduced (see reduced)

Mincing: Male voice choir

Oath: Used for porridge

Pastry: Predecessor of pay for

Quenelle: Oath

Reduced: Deuced again

Sauce: Painful skin complaint

Tureen: Computer pioneer

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Richard Walker

Evidence Makes us Smart and Stronger

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How do we learn?

Of course it makes a difference *what* we are learning. But evidence suggests that in most fields we will learn better if we structure the new learning.

This is not really a surprise. If we look at informal learning, even in adult life, we see that people fit new information into the matrix of what they already know. Of course they don't know they do this, it's just how they instinctively try make sense of the world. Formal learning often disrupts this process, because it offers fragments  learners can't easily fit in.

Back in the 80s Richard Skemp put forward the notion of a "Schema", which is just another word for a framework really. He was interested in mathematical learning, but I think his message applies in any academic sphere. If you want people to learn, make it possible for them to assimilate new information into an ongoing conceptual structure. Otherwise they'll find it hard to learn, hard to retain what they have learned, and at best the learning is likely to be shallow.

What reminded me of all this was that when looking for evidence of what works well if you are preparing for an exam, I wondered what the latest research pointed to.

I found [1] and from there [2]. I think in many ways this is saying what has been said all those years back, but maybe if we can bring the evidence base together better now these ideas will have more effect.

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jan/08/five-secrets-of-successful-revising

[2] http://mindhacks.com/2011/10/24/make-study-more-effective-the-easy-way/

Feedback please!

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Richard Walker

Learning, learning, learning

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Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 26 July 2015, 15:46

How we learn - and how educators (such as me) think we learn - has always fascinated me.

In the last 25 years or so medicine has embraced evidence-based practice but we in education have been slower in following evidence.

So I liked an article I just read.

I have tried to summarize its message in the graphic above.

The article is here

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/education-why-cramming-gets-a-c/

[If you get a pop-up about Pi, I'm do apologize and think Sci Am should know better.

How I wish I could evaluate Pi. Sorrow fills the heart.]


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