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Why I'm selling my books

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 22 Dec 2014, 13:11
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Learn How to Study .... I did!

Buying books can be an obsession. Unnecessary too where I have access to a university library up the road, but I do anyway. Books that are long out of print 100, 75 years old. I like chasing down the obscure reference. When I finally read the passage an author, usually an academic has written, I do that thing politicians say about 'quoting out of context'. It is surprising how one's own interpretation of what someone has said can be very different. 

I understand that having read a book we keep them as an aide memoire, not even to thumb through, but to see them on the shelf and so be reminded of the joy we got from them. Do I ever get from that an academic text? Not often. I take copious notes as I read them. I now have a photo of the cover and that is in my Google+ gallery.

From E-Learning V

 

What more do I need?

Courtesy of a specialist local books shop, AbeBooks, Amazon and eBay I'm selling everything. A box of 30 books went to someone studying the MA in History I've been doing. This morning I dropped off four books at the Post Office. Having never used any online service to sell anything I am delighted at how easy it has been to turn the dining room table into a bookshop! Much to my wife's despair there are ten large 'really useful boxes' stacked around the place. ISBN number, get what its selling for, add a handful of photos, post an honest appraisal of the books condition - mostly pristine, one or two I took ownership of with a highlighter pen - not that that has prevented a sale. The content is sound. I'm honest about the things condition.

From E-Learning V

Fig. 2. Learn How to Study - with books!

The oddest thing is to find that sometimes a ten or twenty year old academic paperback sells for more than it cost all those years ago. For example, which says something for the OU, Derek Rowntree's 'Learn How to Study' from 1990. This may not mention online learning, and adds a very short chapter at the end on wordprocessing, but the lessons and tips he passes on are as relevant and as sound to a student planning distance learning as ever it was.

No value in an eBook on a Kindle then?

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Fig.1 Buyer beware!

Have you come across this? Every so often a book is priced outrageously. Do some people actually buy at this price?! Is it an error? Is it a deliberate error that improves the ranking of an item or a seller on Amazon?

I've been buying ex-library books for 28p +P&P. 

Like old VHS cassettes there are books being 'dumped' - some are out of print gems that have not been digitised so you get to reference directly a book that has been cited rather than relying simply on what others have thought. 

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Why some e-learning is evil

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 16 Jun 2014, 11:31

 Fig.1 Student marginal notes in a second hand book

A couple of weeks ago it started to dawn on me that in some respects e-learning is evil; I lost the thought a couple of times a) because I was driving my daughter to her last A' Level exam at the time and b) starting to compose the ideas my wife felt the need to share with me some pressing thought and I did her the courtesy of holding everything to listen - not just to look as if I was listening (a man things?), but actually take it in to offer a response (another man thing?) The thought was lost.

Rummaging through boxes of text books in the hope that I will find a plug for an imminent trip to Paris by wife and daughter (a post exams and 18th birthday treat), I stumbled upon a book on 'The Causes of War' by Michael Howard and the thought returned:

E-learning is evil because it negates a student 'learning how to learn'.

This matters as most graduates don't apply WHAT they learn at university, but rather the process of learning itself; that application, thought, time, discovery for yourself, seeking out your own meaning, interpretation, sharing, nervous first attempts at constructing an opinion or stance, building on this through mistakes, correction and further reading, attending lectures, seminars, and tutorials. It is NOT a case of consuming within tight confines content that has been specifically constructed for you to follow, to the letter, without little expectation, or desire for you to wander off on any tangents of your own. This has been my too frequent experience of modules in the Master of Arts: Open and Distance Education as with few exceptions the module is written and presented to you like a huge stack of packed lunches for you to eat your way through, without deviation, pretty much day by day for a period of weeks and months.

This is a convenience that suits the nature of distance learning - to hook you into a diet of these set-meals that can collectively building into a degree. The tough reality and self-evident experience of learning is that few students are ready to be assessed until a year, if not two years into their subject. Otherwise the pattern of grades is surely likely to be a gradual step by step, incremental improvement from the 40s, to 50s, to 60s ... and hopefully 70s and even 80s. 

I would far prefer to master my subject first and then be assessed and in so doing get 70s and 80s across the board, once the cumulative effect of sustained learning over many months has had the opportunity to mature. 

There is probably therefore a lesson to be learnt here for the reasons why Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) fail - they fail because they promise a trick that in learning never works - there is no short cut, the brain doesn't allow it, thoughts and ideas take time to mature. Which brings me to the fallacy of so much e-learning that tries to suggest that a revolution in learning is occurring, that there is a quick fix through gamification, having Google and Wikipedia at your fingertips and worst of all by reading condensed books, or courses that hand you all the answers on a plate in a ready-meal, or drive-in take-away manner that may satisfy at the time, but fails to deliver in the long term. 

Six of sixteen MA students doing a Master's degree with the Open University have recently completed degrees with the Open University; we often compare thoughts. We're universally derogatory of both approaches! Learning is a pain in whatever form it comes, but the answer would be a developed blend of both worlds and approaches.

Books, the printed form, certainly have a place. It is a pain to read a book, to identify salient points with notes into a book, or with PostIt notes, and to filter these into a format where they can be preserved and then later applied in an essay or presentation. It is this pain, and the time and effort it takes to condense books, to gather your own thoughts on the ideas of others, and then to construct your individual take, with support from your faculty (tutor, chair, fellow students) that builds your confidence so that you write what you think, not what the you are required to express, in a format that can be marked by an autonomon. 

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Amazon makes e-learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 3 Jun 2014, 11:56

Wikipedia gives you an answer, whereas Amazon delivers the book.

Wikipedia spoon feeds a ready-made response, whereas Amazon offers many points of view. These days my book reading has grown hugely as, whether a book or eBook, I use each book like a stepping stone to another. As I read I form a view on the authors most often cited and invariably, as a result, order the next book. It may be out of print, but is available as an eBook or print on demand, it may be 100 years old, or an ex-library book, or come with a dedication. The learning journey I take I feel is my own.

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Would you prefer to read widely or pick the brains of experts?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 2 May 2014, 19:39

Reading a history of the Armistice after the First World War - I'm a few years ahead of the centenary of 1914, I learn the Lloyd George preferred the former: picking the brains of experts was preferable to resding widely. Studying with Open University can be neither: reading is tightly focused by the content provided and you are penalised rather than admired for widing readily: you are supposed to stick to the text as it is on this that your tutor will assess you. And the participation of experts is random: my seven modules with the OU has had some of the more prominent names of distance and open education as the chair and as tutors, though more often they appear only in the byline or tangentially not daining to take part in discussion or debate - it is their loss and ours. Nor should I sound as if I am denegrating the tutors as here my expectation has come to seek in them an 'educator' - not necessarily a subject matter expert, but a facilitator and an enabler, someone who knows there way around the digital corridors of the Open University Virtual Learning Environment. Studying with the Open University can also be both: it depends so much on the course you are taking and serendipity. If you are goash you ought to be able to approach anyone at all in your faculty - not that you have much sense of what this is. You can read widely simply by extending your reach through references courtesy of the OU library, though I think whst is mesnt here is a more general and broad intellect, that you take an interest, liberally, in the arts and sciences, in history and politics ...

Being online affords a thousand opportunities to both read widely and to pick the brains of experts; what this requires is Web 2.0 literacy - the nous to drill deep when you read in a way that has never before been possible, unless, perhaps you have been privileged enough to have ready access to and the time to use one of the world's elite libraries and your father or mother is a senior academic, government minister or captain of industry who loves to hold 'house parties' at the weekend. For the rest of us, there is now this new landscape - if not a level playing field (there are privileges based on cost and inclusion) - it is one where, with skill, guile, knowledge and experience you can gravitate towards and rope in the people and the books.

 

 

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H818: A History of Openness

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 21 Oct 2014, 09:21

We're considering the nature of 'openness' in education as part of this new Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) module.

This is increasingly about ease of access to information, all of it, uncensored.

Often for ease of access and to gain a qualification with a marketable value, information that is packaged in books, journals and lectures, though increasingly in 'sexier' interactive and multimedia forms with the related 'scaffolding' that comes with learning design and planning. The natural tendency is to consider the hectic last decade of the Internet at the expense of the history of openness in access to information and an education over the last century.

A hundred years ago all but the most privileged were in the dark: leaving school after an elementary education, with reliance on biased newspapers, magazines and part works. Libraries, BBC radio and affordable paperbacks, secondary then tertiary education, cinema and TV have each had a role to play, as has the Open University.

Does enlightenment come with access?

What does it say of power of information and ideas where access is controlled, as in China? Does connectedness within openness lead to even greater coalescing of likeminds in cliques, reinforcing stereotypical biases rather than exposing them to valid alternative views?

Nothing is straightforward when it comes to people - heterogenous by design, homogenous by inclination.

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What the publishers mean

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A witty lok at what publishers at saying at the London Book Fair and what they mean. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/27/what-publishers-really-mean-euphemisms?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038
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Kindle Logic

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 1 Apr 2011, 18:54

Why I am buying e-Books of books I already own.

 

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Some books I read a chapter at a time, over several weeks. Some books, like 'The Isles' I read more than once. Try going to sleep with this in your hands. You can't you lay it on the pillow. CUT TO: Kindle version Easily tabbed forward, left hand or right. Various other books are getting the Kindle treatment, some because they work better as e-Books, anything I need to highlight and take notes on ... and because I may have four, five or six books on the go simultaneously.

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H800: 29 On Reading a book, cover to cover

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 29 Aug 2011, 16:02

I have no doubt that habit has something to do with it. My reading list before going up to Oxford perhaps. A stack of second hand books, a pen and notebook. I like reading a book cover to cover.

I am on my third MAODE module. You are pointed at a chapter here, a chapter there, loads of reports too, but no longer a book. We had books in 2001, a box of them and a CD-rom.

I have bought and read three topic related books. Do they now clutter up shelf-space? They are like oranges I have squeezed dry, for pulp, juice and pips.

I have bought eight e-books and have devoured two of these.

Eeducational%20Psychology%20GRAB.JPG

It was reading Vygotsky's 'Educational Phsycology' that made me appreciate the value of reading a single author cover to cover. What is more, I enjoy the limitations of his own reading. This is 1926. How many people is he going to read and reference. Not that many, John Dewey stands out so will be my next read. There has to be value in engaging with a flow of argument from one mind over many thousands of words. Perhaps it is a relief where so much of my reading is prompted by Linked In Forum Messages, OU Tutor Group Forum Messages and feeds from blogs.

Rethinking%20Pedagogy%20for%20the%20Digital%20Age%20GRAB.JPG

'Rethinking Pedagogy for a Digital Age' is a compilation piece.

The K-tell album of e-learning authors.

All our favourites get to sing their song.

I enjoy how the editors introduce each new chapter, at least there is some attempt to bind the contributors to a theme. I wonder from amongst them if I have heard a voice I am interested in hearing again? i.e. once again, this suggestion that you tune into a person's way of thinking and expressing themselves and by doing so surely speed up the learning process?

What counts though are my highlights and notes.

Having read each cover to cover I am now going through the 350 highlights/notes on EACH. This gives me the chance to expand, delete, add and reflect. And for those poor people who Friended me on Facebook by accident rather than design, Tweet-like updates directly from the Kindle. I need to find a better way to manage these ... sending them here would be an idea, at least there's some relevance.

I am reading no fewer than FOUR what we might term 'popular' books on e-learning, the DIY books primarily aimed at teachers. One is brilliant, two are also-rans, but one is dreadful: Prensky gets headlines for his headlines (Digital Natives) ... there is no substance to him and I heartily wish the OU would drop him as a point of discussion.

Or is this the point?

You know you've learnt something once you've gone from nodding along with all he says to consigning him to the bin?

REFERENCE

Vygotsky, L.S. (1926) Educational Psycholgy.

Beetham, H., Sharpe, R (eds) (2009) Rethinking E-learning Pedagogy.

 

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Kindle 4

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The Far Pavilions is on BBC Radio 4

My wife is enjoying it; so am I. I don't need to read the book, she does.

Two minutes on 'my' Kindle and she's found the book, downloaded a sample and won't let go.

I wake a few hours later. No Kindle.

'I bought it by mistake' she says, still reading.

Hmmm.

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Time for Kindle 2 ?

Day one I thought, I'll read one book at a time. I'm on chapter 12 of 'Rethinking Pedagogy for E-Learning.' Doing well then.

I've also acquired 21 other files, six samples, 2 blogs and ... eight books sad

No more books ... not this month, at least, until I'm paid ... until I've read, collated the notes and quotes, and uploaded the lot to MyStuff.

 

 

 

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H800:12 WK1 Activity 4 The Google Generation - True or False?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 16 Nov 2011, 23:57

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Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Written in 2007 (published 11 January 2008). Reviewed in 2011.

Part of the Week 1 jollies for H800.

(This picks up where I left off in the Forum Thread)

After a year of MAODE, a decade blogging and longer keeping journals (and old course work from both school and uni I might add) I feel I can tap into my own first, second, third or fourth take on a topic.

Increasingly, where this is digitised my preferred learning approach is to add to this information/knowledge, often turning my ideas inside out.

We are yet to have a ‘generation,’ (a spurious and loose term in this context) that has passed through primary, secondary and tertiary education ‘wired up’ to any consistent degree from which to gather empirical research. Indeed, I wonder when things will bottom out, when we’ve gone the equivalent journey of the first horseless-carriage on the Turnpikes of England to the 8 lanes in both directions on the M1 south of Leicester – or from the Wright Brothers to men on the moon.

I’d like to encourage learners to move on from copying, or cutting and pasting in any form, to generating drafts, and better drafts of their take on a topic, even if this is just a doodle, a podcast or cryptic set of messages in a synchronous or asynchronous discussion i.e. to originate.

I lapped up expressions such as Digital Natives, an expression/metaphor only that has been debunked as lacking any basis in fact.

I fear this is the same when it comes to talking about ‘Generation X, Y or Z.’ It isn’t generational, it is down to education, which is down to socio-economic background, wealth, access (technical, physical, geographic, as well as mental), culture, even your parent’s job and attitude.

My 85 year old Father-in-law is Mac ready and has been wired to the Internet its entire life; does this make him of this ‘Generation?’

If x billion struggle to find clean drinking water and a meal a day, where do they stand?

They’ve not been born on Planet Google, so don’t have this generational opportunity.

I find it short sighted of the authors not to go for a ‘longitudinal’ (sic) study. It strikes me as the perfect topic of a JISC, Open University, BBC tie in, the filming part funding the research that is then published every three years for the next thirty, for example.

Trying to decide who is Generation X, or Generation Y or the ‘Google Generation’ strikes me as fraught as trying to decide when the islands we inhabit became, or could have been called in turn England, Scotland, Wales, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

We could spend an unwarranted amount of time deciding who is in and who is out and not agreed.

We can’t it’s like pouring water through a sieve. The creator of IMBD, a computer geek and film buff was born in the 60s (or 70s). Highly IT literate, then as now, he is not of the ‘Google Generation’ as defined as being born after 1993, but is surely of the type?

Personally I was introduced to computers as part of the School of Geography initiative at Oxford in 1982.

Admittedly my first computer was an Amstrad, followed by an early Apple, but I’ve not been without a computer for the best part of thirty years. I can still give my 12 year old a run for his money (though he does get called in to sought our browser problems).

And should this report be quoting Wikipedia?

Surely it is the author we should quote if something is to be correctly cited; anyone could have written this (anyone did).

Reading this I wonder if one day the Bodleian Library will be like a zoo?

The public will have access to view a few paid students who recreate the times of yore when they had to read from a book and take notes, and look up titles in a vast leather-bound tome into which we strips of paper were intermittently stuck. (not so long ago).

Is there indeed, any point in the campus based university gathered around a library when all his millions, or hundreds of millions of books have been Googliefied?

Will collegiate universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol and Durham (Edinburgh and Dublin? Harvard ?) become even more elite as they become hugely expensive compared to offerings such as the Open University?

There may be no limit to how much and how fast content can be transmitted … the entire Library of Congress in 3 seconds I am told, but there are severe limits to how much you can read and remember, let alone make sense of and store.

Is this not the next step?

To rewire our minds with apps and plug-ins? I smile at the idea of ‘power browsing’ or the new one for me ‘bouncing’ the horizontal drift across papers and references rather than drilling vertically, driven by a reading list no doubt.

I can give a name to something I did as an undergraduate 1981-1984. Reading Geography I began I the Map room (skipped all lectures) and then spent my morning, if necessary moving between libraries, particularly the Rhodes Library and Radcliffe Science Library, by way of the School of Geography Library, of course, and sometimes into the Radcliffe Camera or the PPE Reading Rooms.

I bounced physically.

I bounced digitally online as a preferred way of doing things. Though this often leaves me feeling overwhelmed by the things I could read, but haven’t read, that I’d like to read. Which is good reason ONLY to read the latest paper, to check even here if the paper we are asked to read has not already been superseded by this or fellow authors.

Old digitised news keeps like a nasty smell in the wind?

Users are promiscuous, diverse and volatile and it is clear that these behaviours represent a serious challenge for traditional information providers, nurtured in a hardcopy paradigm and, in many respects, still tied to it. (p9)

The problem with the short read and low tolerance of readers is the way papers have thus far gone from print version to digital version without, yet, thorough transmogrification.

We await new acceptable ways to write, and submit and share knowledge that is less formal and to anyone versed in reading online, digestible.

All authors for the web would do well to read Jakob Nielsen on web usability.

There is a way to do it. If it looks like it belongs in a journal or book, you are getting it wrong

Do the authors appreciate that labelling the behaviour ‘squirreling’ is self-fulfilling?

It normalises the behaviour if anyone reads about it. Whilst metaphors are a useful way to explain, in one person’s words, what is going on, such metaphors soon become accepted as fact.

There is a running debate across a series of article in the New Scientist on the way humans think in metaphors (good, can’t help it), and how ideas expressed as metaphors then set unfounded parameters on how we think (not so good, and includes things like the selfish gene, competition and so on).

This dipping, bouncing and squirreling, horizontal browsing, low attention span, four to eight minute viewing diverse ‘one size does not fit all’ individual would make for an interesting cartoon character. I wonder if Steven Appleby or Quentin Blake would oblige. ________________________________________________________________________________

Why ‘huge’ and why ‘very’ ? Qualify. Facts. Evidence. And why even, 'very, very.' This isn't academic writing, it's hear say and exaggeration.

There’s a category missing from the graph – branded information, such as Wikipedia, or Harvard Business Publication, Oxford or Cambridge University Press and Blackwell’s, to name put a few.

Where so much information is available, and so many offerings on the same topic, the key for anyone is to feel they are reading a reliable source.

The point being made later about ‘brand’ presence for BL … something we will see more of with the commercialisation of information. Even Wikipedia cannot be free for ever, while the likes of Wikileaks, for its mischief making and spy-value will always be funded from nefarious sources.

There are very very few controlled studies that account for age and information seeking behaviour systematically: as a result there is much mis-information and much speculation about how young people supposedly behave in cyberspace. (p14)

Observational studies have shown that young people scan online pages very rapidly (boys especially) and click extensively on hyperlinks - rather than reading sequentially. Users make very little use of advanced search facilities, assuming that search engines `understand’ their queries. They tend to move rapidly from page to page, spending little time reading or digesting information and they have difficulty making relevance judgements about the pages they retrieve. (p14)

Wikipedia and YouTube both exhibit a marked age separation between viewers of content (mainly 18-24s) and content generators (mainly 45-54s and 35-44s respectively). (p16, ref 17)

‘there is a considerable danger that younger users will resent the library invading what they regards as their space. There is a big difference between `being where our users are’ and `being USEFUL to our users where they are’.

Surely it would be easy to compare a population that have access and those who do not?

Simply take a group from a developed, rich Western nation and compare them to a group that are not, that don’t have the internet access, video games or mobile phones.

REFERENCE

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future. UCL 11 JAN 2008

 

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What chance does a book have in 2011? Book 2.0?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 28 Dec 2010, 04:03

The opportunist are even better for the someone with something to say or the skill to tell a good story. Without the support of a publisher your book may take time to find a market, but it will: narrowcasting and micropublishing makes this possible.

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Once a dirty word, 'self-publishing' makes sense; have a website, say something often, build a readership then have a book, CD or T-shirt to sell. i.e. be commercial, sales are better than hits.

Books will be bought in great numbers, but in a plethora of genres and volumes, because on the one hand this micromarket can be winkled out, while on the other, if there is a marketing campaign behind the book which uses the Web successfully, it might attract millions.

I dare say it helps to be writing in this global language which I call 'English English,' that might in time transmogrify into 'global English' or even 'globalish'.

Steven Pressfield is a prime example of an author who has embraced the web.

Screen Grab of Steven Pressfield Online homepage

I'd also recommend his book 'The War of Art', though despite my taking several years out to write I find resistance always gets in the way; blogging is my form.

These words will add to the 1,8 million I've pumped into Cyberspace since 1999.

Perhaps it is about time I put some of the following online:

Escape from Alien Zoo

Kids returning home in the school bus are abducted by aliens and put in a zoo.

Fortune Photobooth

An handful of coins used in a Photoboth take the person back to the time on the coins. I've had them back to 1066, 1914 and 1957 so far.

Get Jack Back

Henrietta Wilson, a nurse on the Western Front, successfully poses as a Machine Gun officer to go in and get her brother Jack Back from a pillbox on the edge of Houthulst Forest, Passchendale.

Airborn

Gustav Hemel a pre-World War 1 aeronaut faces internment, or worse, being shot as a spy soon after the outbreak of war. He fakes his own death and returns a training officer and fighter pilot George Hepple.

The Watersprites

A couple of water-living humanoid creatures are forced out of their sanctuary in a small lake and hole up in a condemned public swimming pool. Befriended they journey from city to the mountains to be reunited with their own kind in deep lake in the Alps.

The Girl in the Garden

Three 10 year old prep school boys find a young girl in their den in the woods. Sworn to keep her hidden from adults and other boys they successfully fend of all 'attacks' and dangers. When she dies they bury her in a their garden plot which wins that summer's 'Gardening Cup.' 1972.

Driving Blind

On a whim a guy takes a bet from an American tycoon to drive a car on public road for 100 miles wearing a blindfold. The prize isn't the $1,000,000 but the technology that is developed, tested and stolen.

Skieasy

The best 1000 ski runs on the planet lovingly analysed!

Perhaps I can do this one, when I've sold a few million of the above sad

Perhaps it is time for me to decide how I am going to survive 2011

 

 

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