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Mind Bursts

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 6 Oct 2014, 05:49
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Niel Macgregor's 'Germany: Memories of a Nation' 

I've loved this phrase 'mind bursts' for longer than I can remember so find it refreshing when something comes along which for me is expression of what I mean.

Niel Macgregor's 'Germany: Memories of a Nation' takes the massive and complex and makes it interesting and explicable by picking focused, memorable starting points. Every episode makes you think, but the one that got me hooked was on Konisberg and Strasbourg, two cities, once German: Konisberg now Russian as Kaliningrad, and Strasbourg now French.

Niel Macgregor's 'The History of the World in 100 Objects' has received some 33 million downloads!! THAT is a 'Massive Open Online Course' (MOOC) without the need for instructional design or assessment. It is informative, educational and entertaining.

Back to Germany though.

We are all probably used to history taught and written about as a series of chronological events, with historians questing for a truth interpreted through the philosophy and means of their era: Niel Macgregor therefore is using 21st century approaches to deliver his history, but what is so memorable and effective are the exceedingly carefully chosen objects, the considered, interpreted and historically accessible language and his smart, even 'other worldly' intelligent and dare I say it 'posh' voice.

Also an exhibition at the British Museum

More in the BBC Radio Series Producer's Blog

 

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Detail at your fingertips

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 14:11
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 Moon phases in May 1917

Studying with the OU for the last four years it soon become natural to conduct online niche searches for books and papers related to course work. You learn also how to tag, store and gather the information and ideas that you find: this is one answer to that, a blog that serves several purposes, not least as a learning journal and e-portfolio. 

Searching for the obscure, that essential detail that forms such a vital part of the sensory palette used by the writer, is as easy to find and just as necessary. This morning I stepped out one May evening in 1917 and wanted some hint of what I'd see, hear and feel: a few searches and I can see a waxing moon at 10.00pm on a cooling evening as the temperature dips below 12 degree C, and the noise, in this instance of thousands of men in Nissen huts around a camp soon giving way to a robin trilling and burbling in the trees and the sound of the sea washing against the Channel Coast. 

These details are far more than accessories that overlay character and plot; they are what gives it credibility. Writing on and as the Great War rages requires significant care. The wrong detail will throw a reader, worse I'll end up in a conversation about my claims. Posting a piece of fiction some years ago an irate reader told me what I'd said was rot and went on to correct me - I had been writing fiction. I'd said that a character called Gustav Hemmel changed his name to George Hepple and fakes his own death - the reality is that he went missing over the English Channel in his plane. 

THREE HOURS working on writing fiction, five days a week, is the goal . The OU will have me for TWO hours a day (averaged with longer stints at the weekend). That's the plan. 

On verra. Il faut que j'ecris ici en francaise de temps en temps.

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Free Distance Learning

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 14:12
From E-Learning V

Turn on Radio 4: leave it on and listen from the other side of the kitchen, bedroom, sitting room or bath. Take notes when you hear something interesting. I'm now well through a book on research done into happiness mentioned on Saturday Live and am starting to make 'Homefront' a daily fix. Blog about it and discuss: that's the e in e-learning. That and having the book in eBook form. And quite a bit of Radio 4 is OU anyway: The Bottom Line and that one on statistics come to mind.

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To make myself ill ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 14:16
From E-Learning V

Fig.1 All images too disgusting to share ... so here's a diagram instead!

Unusual that during a hospital visit the consultant asks me to make myself ill and return the following week for a biopsy. This is testing for 'Lichen Planus' - an unpleseant ulcerating of the soft tissues of the mouth. Breakfast the morning before will therefore be: a packet of hullahoops, a chocolate HobNob, martmite on toast with tomato ketchup, a spoonful of heated up Chicken Phal, cheap icecream say a 'Feast' and a small glass of Spanish lager, or Guiness or Newcastle Brown Ale. I can then rinse my mouth out with a specific brand of mouthwash that contains some chemical that causes a reaction.

I predict ulcers, a large blood spot and what are like raised, scratch marks inside my mouth. If I really eat the above I think I'll be sick. Come to think of it, if a handful of HulaHoops does the job why bother with the rest?

I will have some prescribed pain relief and an anaesthetising mouthwash to use straight afterwards.

 

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On happiness, memory and a whole lot more

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 14:19

Saturday Live, September 27th 2014

From 2BlogI

Fig. 1 Saturday Live, Sept 27th BBC Radio 4

A three hour car journey is sustained by pieces of Radio 4: this jad me wanting to pull over and take notes, instead I've been into iPlayer. There were pieces about memory and happiness that tickled my interest. I still need to listen a third time to find the point that to paraphrase had something to do with why or how memories are formed by key moments, not the endless ephemera that surrounds them: this is the key error made by all of these Apps and gadgets that aim to 'keep memories' for you by photographing and recording your day. Many of my most memorable moments in a 24 hour period are either dreams or thoughts - there's no photographin them.

Paul Dolan is dubbed the Professor of Happiness. I downloaded his book half an hour ago. A smart and academic-lite response rather than a 'how to book' 

 

 

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On writing fiction

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 7 Apr 2015, 10:44
From Writing

Fig. 1 The Writers' Retreat, Sheepwash, Devon

have filed away somewhere all my writing efforts that begins with 'Adam & Evie' - a kind of Blue Lagoon in space that I wrote when I was 13. Since then, forty years ago, I have filled a garage, or at least a corner of one. Much of my effort is on Amstrad floppy discs, ZIP drives, CDs and harddrives. Some is printed off. Some are TV series and screenplays. You haven't heard about me because it is all rubbish: around a fireplace I could tell you the story, even illustrate it with photos from my research, but until this week I could not get from my head to yours the story I wanted to tell.

This all changed this week. Though I fell short of the goal of four, 2,500 scenes written I delivered one 3,000 word scene, developed several others, sketched out seven or so more and worked on the story arc. Last night three writers read from their work: an author whose third book comes out this week, my tutor who has two books published and two in the wings - and me. It worked. I had their attention, it gripped and scared them more than I could imagine and there was half an hour of discussion about the place and events.

Crucial to me is understanding the concept of a 'scene' and its needs in terms of writing, what my tutor Susannah Waters describes as a 'palette of senses.'

A new year, an new age (I turned 53 an hour ago) and a new opportunity to 'get stuff out' On verra.

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Sheets

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 14:35
From 2BlogI

Fig.1 My nemesis: a feather duvet

Abandoning a feather filled duvet in the B&B 'retreat' in Devon for health reasons (asthma) I find my feet tucked, contained and strapped into place like it was the 1960s and I'm eight years old and sleeping over at my Granny's house. 

The efforts to learn how to write a novel are thus far proving highly productive: one 3000 word scene written, substantial plotting, seven further scenes concieved with another two reaching the 1000 word mark, two key characters established with a third making his presence felt. 

All would be fine except next week sees my head back against the grindstone and L120 over my shoulder. The trick would be to do it all in French.

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Wretchedness of allergies

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 08:43
From 2BlogI

Fig.1. Raycop

My habit when travelling is to take at least my own pillow, even a duvet and a mattress cover; this because of asthma and rhinitis and a fairly severe allergy to house mite dust (their faeces). I have on long stays ended up sleeping in bathrooms, on balconies, even in a tent in the garden. Most frustraingly with two more nights to go on what is otherwise turning into a transformstive, even pivital writing experience, it feels as if I have had a rubber tube shoved up my left nostril and a sack of sand liberally sprinkled with pepper, had been poured into my head then packed into place with the handle of a wooden spoon. I've been stuffed. The result is miserable, a face that aches, earache, a,igraine lije headache and a left eyeball that feels as if it is swimming in chillies. 

The swollen soft membranes of my mouth and sinuses, even if I evacuated to the sea, may take anything from a few days to a few weeks to clear; work is severely compromised and my mood has sunk. A shame as the lessons and experiences I am having with my writing are hugely promising. 

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Eight hours

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 08:49
From 2BlogI

Fig.1 Another writer on the retreat in Devon

I use an hour glass to count the time I spend 'at it'. Five hours pulling together ideas, then three hours writing. 600 words. Which is a multiple of ten less than I'd historically generate. I need to speak to my tutor about what this may or may not have achieved. Progress if I am successfully transplanting images and sounds from my head to hers, otherwise not. 

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Writing Retreat

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 08:52

Fig. 1 Retreats for You, Sheepwash, Devon

Day One.

An hour with my tutor yesterday evening. Buzzed, but fell asleep soon after. It was a four hour drive yesterday afternoon/evening and I'd been up since 4.00 am or something. Which is when I woke this morning and rattled off 1 1/2 following guidelines on how to 'set the scene'.

Armed with a pot of coffee I plan to get another hour in before breakfast.

The goal is to write four completed scenes, each of around 2,500 words this week. I may, a new experience for me, write each of these scenes several times as I try out the approaches I've been given.

The premise for my novel got the thumbs up as did my 'voice': not so hot were the gaping holes in my scene setting - I leave far too much untold.

On verra. 

By the end of the week I will decide either to give up once and for all, or that there's a future in it and the boxes of manuscripts, scripts, zip drives, discs and flopping discs, hard drives, notebooks and diaries have served a purpose or should go to the skip.

And I'll rejoin the family for my birthday.

 

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Bart's Bash: The Guinness Book of Records Challenge

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 08:58
From Bart's Bash 21SEPT14

Fig. 1 Some of the 30 boats taking part in our 'Bart's Challenge' 

The idea is to make it into the Guinness Book of Records. All over the world clubs took to the water. I had the Guinness Book of Records adjudicator on the rescue boat with me. The race had to be so long, with at least 25 participants. Photos and video was required for starts and finishes. She enjoyed it so much she helped lay and pull in buouys for the course.

Andy 'Bart' Simpson, a Brit, died racing in the America's Cup last year.

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Essay writing style: clay or concrete aggregate?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 1 Oct 2014, 15:10
From River Ouse Low Tide

My tried and tested methodology, beyond the doomed 'winging it' is 'concrete aggregate'. Other weeks or months I accumulate a lot of stuff, much of it in a blog like this; not quite a relational database but the 'stuff' is here, tagged and of reasonable relevance. In a now defunct OU ePortfolio called 'MyStuff' or 'MyOU' - I forget, you could then shuffle and rank your gobbets of nonsense and so, discounting the volume of stuff, potentially, have a treatment that could then be turned into an essay.

Such stuff, if it contains, 10,000 words, often with chunks of verbatim passages, can be a hell of a task to hack into shape. You build in bold forms out of concrete and can only get it to look like a garden, or park sculpture, with a pneumatic drill and chisel. Sometimes it works. You get there. It is dry and workable. You'll more than pass. It depends on the subject, the module and the specific expectations of the assignment. Where you need to tick many boxes this approach may work well.

Clay is the better way forward in most situations. Here you build up your arguments in logical steps then refine them at the end. This, particularly in the social sciences, is where the tutor wants to see how you argue you case, drawing together arguments and facts, mostly those you've been exposed to in the module, though allowing for some reading beyond the module. You have to express your opinion, rather than listing the views of others. Get it right and this is the only way to reach the upper grades? Get it wrong, which is the risk, and you may end up with a hollow or limp structure with grades to match. 

 

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Not recommended

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:09
From E-Learning V

Fig.1. Over doing the reading

I'm trying to put to bed what might be my 27th assignment: the last three have been non-OU but the same rules apply: whether tutor marked assignment, end of module assignment or an essay.

Have I ever been cut out for this?

Clearly, getting from TMAs in the 50s and a couple of EMAs in the 40s to TMAs in the 80s (and beyond) and EMAs in the 60s and 70s (though never beyond) indicates that I've learnt how to provide what is required ... and by default, that I have also learnt something (though my brain will complicate, and bury everything that goes in so fast that it's like putting rotten tomatoes onto the compost heap).

This is what I prefer by far: 'writing from the hip' I call it, or 'jazz writing' where a stream of consciousness, or drivel, fills the page.

I am taking a moments break from the nightshift.

This nightshift, awake at 2.00 am and writing by 2.30am has, over several years, become my default position whenever I need a three hour run at something; even the dog is asleep. I have to struggle to hear much more than a buzz in my head and either the tapping on this keyboard or scratching away of pen on paper.

Can I bring to some kind of conclusion this 'learning journal' in relation to writing 'the perfect essay'? 

Despite my best wishes I am NOT a strategic worker or thinker: my curiosity is too much of a pull. I do exactly what I was warned against a year ago - 'vanishing down rabbit holes'. I am the White Rabbit and Alice combined; an intriguing reference enthrals me so off I go. If I can I will source the paper, even get the long out of print book - I may even read the thing, take notes and then pop my head of this hole and wonder what the feck I'm playing at.

An essay needs a copse, not a forest. Imagine what it is like trying to turn an forest into an essay: too much wood (far too much paper). Not simply tough to digest, but any intrinsic pleasure from the act of writing at last is diminished by my knowledge of how much I will have to leave out. 

In the dead of night.

Giving up alcohol and coffee has not helped.

In every respect the alcohol was by far the easiest thing to cut back and cut out - just the conclusion to a ten year minor skirmish that ultimately was or is a medical irritant (allergic to it). Last week I managed 48 hours, or as it 36 hours without coffee. Hardly an achievement given that I was comatose, walking wounded or asleep for the duration. A mug first thing since has found me taking an afternoon siesta and still sleeping for seven + hours. I am sitting with the requisite jug of coffee now. 

I'll get to the end of this and do it justice

'On reflection' the couple of EMAs in the 40s I received was because having done the work, and got reasonable TMAs I blew it with this last struggle and deadlines ending up submitting the latests draft as the seconds disappeared. This time I have had months, really, months and even now I have another three days. I just want to do what I know has to be done: get a good draft finished a few days before, then do the re-read and edit. Nothing less will do and only then can I feel I've done all that I feel I am capable of. The truth is this does not, nor never has come naturally to me. I prefer being up on my feet doing and taking part with a team of people.

Take a nap, then, trusting to my wits and the fresh sea air, I'll be bobbing around offshore by mid-morning taking part in some global sailing charity event. 

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French L120 Unit 1: Session 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:18
From E-Learning V

From E-Learning V

Making a tentative though necessary start. 

When taking an online course such as this my interest is two-fold: the content and how the course is constructed and delivered. 

Regarding the content I last learnt French formally for O'Levels and got a 'C'.

There are multiple holes in my knowledge, use and understanding of the language. Wanting to acquire rather than learn the language I got myself onto a school exchange scheme, spent three weeks in Rochefort near La Rochelle - and returned for five weeks that same summer ending up hitching through France to Andora and back. My new friend was Algerian. In my gap year I worked in a French 4 Star Hotel for five months where many of the staff I dealt with were from North Africa and the south of France. I gained a Marseillais accent and vocab. Finally I worked in French TV in Paris: my immediate work colleagues were a Geordie, a Russia, a Moroccan and an Israelie. By now I passed as Belgian - so long as I said very little. The third phase has come since: gambling away in French thinking I can be understood when that is far from the situation as my grammar is so poor. Finally, a yesr using Rossetta Stone has me slowing down and the few very correct phrases I use have me sounding like a government official from Paris. This sounds like fluency: it is not. My written French wouldn't get me through primary school, which explains why I've enroled on L120.

More grammar to absorb, understand, know then apply ... and be around people who are told to fix rather than tolerate my mistakes.

From E-Learning V

I need to figure out how to generate accents otherwise that will be another lesson that passes me by.

From E-Learning V
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Dreams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:15
From 2BlogI

I rarely write about these, though feel obliged when they are so telling. I had another double bill of movie like dreams. I won't bore you with the detail but I challenge any of these new 'memory' apps to account for them. What is my head up to? It's very probably because I am, after six or seven years of not having done so, thinking about storytelling: character, plot and narrative arcs. Where's that in a mini series such as 'The Borgias'. Some of these series, however often there is a murder or sex act after a while become as interesting as standing at a bus stop and starting to recognise the same faces every day. 

Nabakov said something about 'loving a memory to make it real'.

Can an App love something as abstract as a memory? It strikes me that memories can never be digitised, that as the construct, at that moment, of a chemical process, that they will be forever analogue. Can you digitise a chemical process?

Memory is not a photograph, or recording, not even something you have written down, rather a memory is what your brain at that moment chooses to construct for you drawing upon sources in various, and differing corners and recesses of your brain. It takes very little to alter this mix. Nothing you recall can ever be the way you remember it before, far from being frozen in time, as a digital form would do, it erupts like gas from a swamp.

In my early teens I had one of those 'Five Year Diaries' that offer four or five lines per day. After five years you have what you did on that day for five years. It took a long while for me to move on from these. What I did was try to write something about that day that would provide recall of some kind. I don't need the video of the day. Or an assortment of photographs. All it takes is a phrase, a place, person or event. Something you ate or saw on TV. Oh dear. I just saw that I thought my new girlfriend's breath was bad. She read this by chance a few years later. Together for five years we finally left each other in tatters a decade later. I can see where we were standing. Her Dad had come to pick her up. Neither of us could drive. She was 16, I was nearly 18. Do I need a gadget to replace my mind's eye?

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Pixabay - images for posts and attribution rights

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 3 Oct 2014, 09:25
From E-Learning V

A post bellow by Cathy Miller below suggests that images from Pixabay are free. I clicked on this to find an image of a brain for my last post. Many of the images in Pixabay are from commercial operations such as Shuttershock ; their images have a great big digital watermark across them and a request to pay a large subscription fee. On the other hand, I did find the image of neurons below that does the job and has the Creative Commons Non-Attribution Distribution rights - i.e. use as you please without the need to link to or attribute the image. No fus, no future problem, just help yourself - I like that.

The easiest way to find the perfect image though is simply to search in Google for an item adding the word 'images' in the search and then click through 'til you find what gets your attention; click on the image and decide if the conditions are onerous. Depending on what you are looking for most are free with a share-alike creative commons, all you are supposed then to do is to link back to the source.

Cathy, do please open your comments on this one and I'll cut and paste this in there.

I see someone has left a comment but no one else can. A very worthwhile discussion as I am a firm believer in using images at the top of most posts just to hook interest and help tell your story.

Pixabay must be an open platform: anyone can contribute images. Perhaps Pixabox are making money by having commercial stock libraries use it too? Flickr is pretty good, but the Google search would include Flickr images anyway.

I have some 2,000 images in five galleries in Google Pics, E-learning I (1000 images, H807, H800),  E-learning II (385 images H808, B822), E-learning III (521 images, H810), E-learning IV (349 images, H809, H818) and E-learning V (Ouverture, once I get started). As well as module specific, even EMA specific galleries, such as H818: The Networked Practitioner. and H818: EMA (29 images,  L120). Grabbed from everywhere, many CCS (share-alike) just about all related to illustrating various MAODE modules over the last four years. However, I've not been meticulous about identifying where the copyright always lies. It's true, that it is irksome, just adding that extra link or creating the correct Creative Contributions copyright tag as an icon - though we ought to do that. There is a bonus for doing so as the links to and from your post and the image host generates traffic but I'd only do that for a commercial blog, which this isn't.

The other thing to do is to draw your own images, saying using the Apps 'Paint' or 'Brushes" or to take or have your own gallery of photographs to use (smart phone snaps, photos) then you will never have a copyright issue as they are yours. The other one is to screengrab images you like and then manipulate them in a App such as 'Studio'. All of this takes time and a blog is a blog, not an article for a magazine don't you think?

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Must see TV

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 23 Aug 2014, 10:38

Fig. 1 Episode 3 of 'Our World War'

There are many reasons to watch this 45 minute drama made by BBC Documentaries:

1) It is a gripping piece of entertainment that incorporates modern music to help evoke the feelings and tone.

2) The sense of what it meant to take part in this conflict to Britain then, and today, is palpable

3) For a piece of screen writing I can think of little that is so sharp, so succinct, so remarkable ...

4) You don't think of it as a documentary. This isn't docu-drama, so much as drama that seamlessly includes a few animated maps and subtitles as does many a movie or TV series these days

5) You too will be recommending that people watch it.

6) The series so far is excellent, this episode stands out as brilliant - I was left weeping in sadness and joy, while reflecting the violent conflict, though not on this scale, is still very much a contemporary issue.

7) You have this week to watch it. (What seems to happen then is that towards the end of the series it will be offered as a DVD)

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I never saw the resemblance to Robin Williams

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 14 Aug 2014, 08:46
From Profile Photos

Fig.1 Mork and Jonny

Promoted to being a 'school prefect' in my late teens and required to keep a line of 11 year olds in order during assembly I repeatedly heard mutterings of "Nanno Nanno" : 'Mork and Mindy' was on TV at the time and I supposedly looked like the main character. Only by doing that thing that Robin Williams did with his fingers when greeting Ork would this lot be satisfied. That was1979. 

35 years later I'm in the Senior Common Room at the University of Birmingham and a fellow graduate student asks "Do you know who you look like?" (we'd obviously got bored with talking about the First World War). I tell the above story. Whether or not hair or glasses or smirk are similar I am a) not as hairy b) not funny c) six inches taller d) manic, but never depressed e) English ... though I am inclined to play the fool from time to time. 

I'm polite when people say 'do I know you?'

 

 

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Obsessive behaviour in the family?!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 14 Aug 2014, 08:42

Fig.1. Habit, boredom or an obsessive nature? 

I match the clothes pegs to the item going on the line. I've done this for years and dropped it into the conversation like a confessional at Sunday Lunch. My wife and daughter became very passionate about it - saying I always got it wrong. They in turn confessed to going out and changing the pegs around if I had made a mismatch of colour, or peg type. It appears that the wooden pegs should go with the yellow items, not the yellow 'soft' pegs. We never have enough white pegs and no black pegs at all.

My response to this discovery is to deliberately miss-match all the pegs and then see who is first to go out and change them. 

It goes beyond this too - on how I put items out individually, or hang them over the line sad*

Can you imagine what life is like indoors?

Because no satisfactory system can be agreed upon the preference is not to put anything away at all: clothes, dishes and books come to mind.

Is there a gene for this kind of thing as it comes entirely from my wife's side: a combination of a desire for order, an inability to throw anything away and disagreement on each other's systems.  My mum had a simple answer: if it didn't have its 'place' it went in the bin; the house looked forever like a show-home where no one lived, but at least you had a reason to get the vacuum cleaner out as you could find more than a patch of carpet to use it on.

With autumn approaching the dryer will be used.

Oh shit. I've just noticed its raining and I've just put the washing out. Now. Do I tug everything off and leave the pegs on the line (my wife), take it all down and bung it in the dryer ... or just leave it in the hope that the sun and wind later in the day will still do its work???!

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Escape

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 7 Aug 2014, 07:02

Fig. 1 Five Lasers, like butterflies

Helming the boat that set the buoys for this race (it's called 'Ark') I got this shot and likened it to butterflies in the back garden. I so wanted to be out there competing in the race and juggling my inabilities to control the dinghy, but got a thrill from this moment all the same with this imbalance of boats. One getting away, the others heading towards the buoy.

My turn next week.

I've done 12 hours on a 'pond' in various winds on a Laser so feel ready for the sea, and ready for bruises, muscle pain, a dunking: ready too for managed risk: I will have on a wet suit and lifejacket. I will have a pouch containing an inhaler (asthmatic) and water.

I like danger. I need the physical and mental thrills I so enjoyed in my 'youth'. I prefer a challenge. I want to be hit with a stick and offered a carrot. The OU equivalent of the written exam and recognition of success: TMAs are too infrequent for essay writing to become a way of life, whilst EMAs lack the danger and challenge of an examination.

'Ark' is a bit of a tug, a diesel engined quasi-fishing vessel on which the day's race buoys are kept - hunking great things on a long length of rope with a chain and anchor attached. It has a VHS radio so you call back and forth to your harbour of departure and the Race Officer in the clubhouse and RIBS in the bay.

Seven years since I was last on the thing I had with me a cushion I grabbed from the sofa at home not thinking why I did this ... until in the chop I recalled how I had broken my coccyx training to do this when I had bounced off the rubbery side of the RIB and landed on the anchor: twice. Broken coccyx. Imagine how they test for this in A&E? Basically someone prods you up the arse and if you scream there's a problem. This problem then turns into 'there's nothing we can do'. But here's a rubber-ring you may like to have to sit on for the next six weeks ... or don't sit down????

You live and learn, or rather learn through giving things a go until you can get it right enough.

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That's Nothing Compared to Passchendaele

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 5 Aug 2014, 17:35

 Fig.1. British Soldiers struggling in the mud - The First Gulf War (early 1991)

1) The cool, calm and quiet of the early morning - my work space.

2) The dog rolling over on her bed and wagging her tail for a bit of TLC

3) A pot of coffee

Set to go. iPad open on a Kindle eBook on the First Gulf War; Mac Mini in Google Docs. Working on something my grandfather said in 1991 when watching a documentary on a DLI private in Saudi Arabia waiting to enter Kuwait during the First Gulf War : 'That's Nothing Compared to Passchendaele', he said regarding the regional news programme from BBC's Looks North. Was it nothing like the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres July - November 1917) or more similar than different? Scale and technology were different, operation and tactics different due to the technology and lessons of previous conflicts, mud for sand ... but a soldier when hit by shrapnel or loses a mate feels the same pain. And there was mud too (see above). There mistakes and the wrong kit. 

The remark was pointed at the individual soldier's lot. BBC Look North were doing a profile of a 'day in the life of a private soldier of the Durham Light Infantry'. It was when looking at the man's rations and gear that my grandfather, by then in his 94th year, said this. It's had me thinking ever since, not least since the plethora of 'soldiering' we are getting and will get during the Centenary Commemorations of the First World War. 

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Fancy windsurfing today? Check Windguru.

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 5 Aug 2014, 17:32

Fig. 1. Windguru

I'm always amazed at how much information can be put onto a screen; here, Windguru gives you in a glance the weather and especially the wind forecast in relation to windsurfing and kite boarding - strong winds are vital. It is just an aid to forecasting, though I have found it remarkably accurate, that wind strengths and directions do in reality shift pretty much according to the forecast. This greatly assists with planning a sailing trip - too strong or too weak and I keep away.

 

 

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1914 Evening

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 5 Aug 2014, 17:30

 Fig.1 Screengrab from a news report style presentation on why Britain went to war 100 years ago / at midnight tonight.

I stumbled upon all of this quite by chance. Who'd imagine the BBC Parliamentary Channel would produce an evening of documentaries, talks and lectures. Former foreign secretaries reflect on the important role Edward Grey in 1914 took to keep Britain out of a continental conflict. I hope it's all on the iPlayer as every word is worth sharing. 

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Just a distraction?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 3 Aug 2014, 08:00

Fig.1. Tom Dailey winning Commonwealth Gold

Tom Dailey talks about his bid for a medal the the Rio Olympics, about distractions like school and TV work, and also his desire to do a course, such as Spanish. 

"Because I'm not doing any school any more and I haven't got any TV shows, possibly I want to start a course in Spanish, sociology, politics, something like that, just to keep my mind away from it.

"If your mind is constantly on diving, it will melt. It's always good to have a distraction from it."

It sounds like he should be introduced to the Open University; there were a few Olympic competitors on courses a few years ago. What could be more flexible?

Is it a distraction? Is studying complementary to the day job or daily life?

Any other competitive athletes out there?

I'm still with the OU for a couple of reasons:

  • 1) I love learning and the OU method and platform
  • 2) Anything to keep me away from the TV is a good thing
  • 3) In the case of French I've always wanted to, and at one stage needed to crack written French.

 

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Web Literacy Map

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 2 Aug 2014, 10:51

Fig. 1. Mozilla Webmaker Digital Literacy Map

Learning online for a degree means that over a number of modules, sooner rather than later, you are likely to master a number of these digital literacy skills; the more the better. 

Navigation, search and credibility and vital for any student. Can you find your way around the web and the OU library, the student forum and Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Can you search elsewhere for credible results - remembering to tag and cite these. 

You may never need to code, but other 'building' skills are important; the basics of this blogging platform for a start, remixing and re-blogging and accessibility issues. 

Connecting might be the most important skill and habit to acquire: sharing, collaboration and community participation are what make the OU learning experience so special. 'Connectivity' is considered to be the learning theory of the 21st century; that by taking part, connecting and commenting you and others benefit from insights gained, mistakes corrected, problems solved, issues understood, theories tested ... 

While 'openness' is a state of mind that takes a bit of getting used to; some make feel it is 'exposure' or compromising their privacy. Others simply prefer to get on with a task alone, and therefore with less disturbance. You can see that I am an exponent of openness and connectivity. 

 

 

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