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Design Museum

Don't preach to the converted!!!!

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From E-Learning V

Richard Attenborough. A life in film

An extraordinary life and a surprising documentary - here's someone who packed in such a huge amount into his 90+ years. Worth viewing and reviewing. The phrase that currently rings in my ears is 'don't preach to the converted!' as the opposite of this 'preach to the converted' was exactly what I had rammed down my throat from the advertising industry. Attenborough did the opposite and in so doing challenged the unwary and disinterested to take to make the effort and to take an interest.

This does have a bearing on learning: can we make it all too easy, too forgettable, too tailored to well manicured personas that it risks being bland, part of the fog, familiar and so easily digested and forgotten?

Teaching will always be an art, before it is a science. 

BBC Desert Island Disks

Moving to be married for close to 70 years, though we've had people who have made it to 80 years married featured recently. 'She is always right' say the husbands. 

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Here we go then, again

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 28 Aug 2014, 12:01

Fig.1. The opening page of Book One (or Livre 1)

A modest package of three text books arrived this morning. I'm starting Ouverture:Intermediate French. No more DVDs (or VHS cassettes) - that's all online. With trepidation therefore I look ahead to the new academic year and a BA module in French. The idea is to complete the task I ought to have undertaken 22 if not 37 years ago ... dreadful at school French I still did an exchange and have worked in France on and off. Getting a 'proper job' in the early 1990s I ought to have done a course and brought my written French up to scratch. I never did and not surprisingly my work prospects were limited. 'It's never too late' my wife says, not realising what I am about to embark on. Hopefully I'll come away both reading, writing and speaking French rather better. I may yet get to apply it longer term if I end up back in France working later this year.

On verra (We'll see)

From a distance learning point of view, and having had six out of seven modules over the last four+ years almost entirely online with little in the post but an EMA grade and assessment it does already feel, in a tiny way, that there is a modicum of direct contact. Though familiar with the online platform and having studied 'Personal Learning Environments' it is valuable to see it applied, and spelled out in book form.

I'd be unlikely to get porridge on a computer screen though. Flicking through the pages over breakfast I got porridge on page 2. Over the next year there might be many more spillages as I get through this stuff.

Scary? Yes. It took me twenty years to get my written English to a reasonable standard. I struggled with languages at school - spoken fine, I'm a good mimic and enjoyed 'immersive learning' when staying with a French family and later hitching around France in my teens with other French teenagers. Written French? Ouch. 

I know from experience that at some stage the fog of incomprehension clears: that a language can become second nature and therefore fluent. Why? I guess I love France and it's easier to try and fix a language I know rather than learning a new language, such as Spanish, from scratch.

Next up, and complementing this, I have some history books on the First World War to read in French. Also applying to a number of opportunities in France. In a few months time I may be doing 'L'Ouverture' from France itself ... though working too hard to manage this? 

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Design Museum

Gamification of the First World War

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 28 Aug 2014, 08:45

 Fig.1. The BBC's First World War 'game'

Powerful. Rich. Fast. Makes you think. The perfect morning opener to a history lesson - though the 'F***!' word would not be welcome. I'd question its use. Many soldiers were 'God fearing, church-going Quakers'. And it will be a barrier to its use in many schools. 

The idea of having linear drama interspersed with choices is a 'cross media' or 'multi-platform' gold standard that was dreamt about, even proposed, a decade ago - but quite impossible except at huge expense and on DVD. It offers an interesting way into narratives such as 'Sliding Doors' or 'Back to the Future' where you as the viewer and protagonist could make choices about what you do and how you respond. 

A detailed report in Creative Review

Watching Horizon last night on Allergies I was tempted to go online. Try transcribing what is said in these programmes and you might not fill a couple of sides of A4: they don't say much. For me this is a simple example of how video is often the last thing you need as a piece of learning: a TED lecture would be better, a dozen TED lectures better still.

For all the buzz and excitement around distance and online learning I wonder if the connectedness of the Internet and the gargantuan levels and variety of content is the e-learning legacy - creating the environment in which people can travel virtually rather than prescriptive learning.

More WW1 games from the BBC 

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Design Museum

A radical thinker who gives many academics a run for their money

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From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1. Malcolm Gladwell - Desert Island Discs

A fascinating insight to someone who connects the latest thinking from all kinds of disciplines and often gives senior academics a drubbing. He challenges anyone who suggests that the Internet is damaging the brains of the connected youth to come up with the research; actually, between them, the OU and Australian Universities have thus far shown that as far as their brains and our brains are concerned it's business as usual.

Like so many episodes of Desert Islands Discs a magical way to learn something new or to gain a deeper insight into someone.

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On knowing exactly where your grandfather or great-grandfather was day-by-day during the First World War

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014, 19:23

Fig.1 35th Division, July-August, 1916. Battle of the Somme

This is from a minutely detailed 'Tartan': a 1916 sheet of squared paper carefully coloured in to show where every division was day by day from July through to October 1916. It interests me as although my late grandfather never kept a diary nor did his letters home survive, he recorded with me over three hours of memoir. He remarked once that he had no idea where he was on his 21st Birthday: I could now tell him - he was on the move from the night before, coming out of Corps Reserve and heading back into the Front Line on the Somme. Here he would keep his machine gun 'in action' while having the misfortune of finding a head in a Piklehaube helmet he dug out thinking it would make a nice souvenir.

 

Fig. 2. Mapping the First World War: Battlefields of the great conflict from above

Fascinating how so much information, here placing hundreds of thousands of soldiers day by day on the western front. 

 

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Decorating war memorials to mark the centenary of the First World War?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014, 04:26

Fig.1 A USSR Second World War memorial in Bulgaria

While the above in Bulgaria is considered by the Russian Embassy in that country to be graffiti, I rather think that it brings the memorial to the attention of a contemporary audience. I know of and have photographed many such monuments around the UK which could be brought to life.

From Oxford

Fig.2. A coloured-in plaster-of-paris replica of a Roman Statue

See how Roman statues originally looked. How about applying this approach to our statues and memorials too? Many are already getting 'walk-by' voice over tracks. Why stick with augmented reality. Go the whole hog. 

From First World War

 Fig. 3. Lewes War Memorial

A golden angel with silver wings perhaps?

Imagined your local war memorial in gold leaf? in silver? 

From WW1 Memorials

 Fig.4. Sir William Goscombe's 'The Response' - Newcastle City Centre

Imagine painting these figures in vibrant natural colours and lighting it at night? That would get the attention of the crowds going out on the town (Newcastle) at night.

 

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Design Museum

Oh cripes - another August Bank Holiday gets washed down the plughole

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From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1 Wind and weather chart courtesy of WindGuru for Seaford Bay, August 25th

  • Day
  • Date
  • Time
  • Wind Speed (Beaufort Scale)
  • Wind Gust Speed
  • Wind Direction
  •  Temperature
  • Wind Direction
  • Cloud cover and forecast density at various descending levels (High to low)
  • Forecast precipitation in millimeters

Stars - the degree to which those who love strong winds will love it. Three stars is an unmissable opportunity for windsurfers and kite-boards.

Too wet, too windy - but perfect for the diehard windsurfer or kiteboarder: I'm neither. I'll be standing on the shore looking at the waves breaking on the beach in an hour or so. The sailing club's Race Officer will decide if sailing is on or not. The serious issue is if we start a race heavy weather could make bringing dinghies in treacherous. If it goes ahead, as Saturday, I will be drenched to the skin helming the safety boat - a RIB we bring out of Newhaven Harbour.

Lessons learnt lately?

The opportunity to improve sailing skills is made all the more swift courtesy of downloadable eBooks and YouTube. After earlier trials inland on a lake yesterday became my first outing helming a dinghy on the sea, and my first race - we had three. Before I took to the water I checked a few items off from a guide to dinghy sailing and at lunch I followed up further tips on YouTube. Is there a limit to what the Internet can tell or show you? The list of tips and insights given by fellow sailors would be long: fixing bits of the boat, getting it off the trolley and into the ocean ... getting it back.

Late onto the water I was a good 30 seconds off the start of the race and never made it up in the Club Laser. The second race I was in the thick of it as 22 dinghies josled for position - two years of crewing a Fireball payed off and sneakily I managed to be one of the first Lasers into this race and for the first lap of three led the fleet - it felt like by some fluke I'd got around the first lap of a F1 Grand Prix in a Citreon 2CV. Staying upright is about as far as my skills go for now. The third race was scuppered from the start as the tiller handle came off; this might be like a fisherman dropping his rod in the water and having to resort to a hand-line ... or a jokey losing his stirrups at the start of a race ... or doing a cycle race without any handlebars: sort of.

However, it is remarkable what you learn and how much more you learn in adverse conditions. My 'skills' have been plagued for weeks by my a clumsy swapping of hands when you tack between the mainsheet and the tiller, every time you tack your hands have to swap duties, the lead hand taking the rope on the mainsail (main sheet), the rear hand taking the tiller ... well, my tiller-handle was gone, which turned every tack into a drill. It worked. I'd liken it to any sports coach giving competitors a challenge in order to fix a problem, or to speed up 'adaptation'.

Trial and error, mistakes, dealing with the unexpected and a challenge ... being pushed. Learning works best when it is anything but 'plain sailing' - we learn so much from mistakes, from figuring things out, by asking for help ... and giving help in turn. How do we keep the human context alive in e-learning? Are we not like astronauts on a lone mission a million miles from earth?

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On the value of reading and re-reading the same quality book

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Aug 2014, 06:52
From E-Learning IV

 Fig 1. Essential reading on British Forces on the Ypres Salient in 1917

I take back what I said a couple of days ago about a module (not OU) that comprises a reading list and set of essay questions. Sometimes I feel the OU modules I have done are too prescriptive, that all of us are passengers on a learning train that will not permit anyone to leave the service. You work from and are assessed on the content given - excellent, succinct and contained. This does not suit everyone; never does the scary freedom to read from a reading list. In many cases the variety seen in both approaches, with overlap, is how and when one comes to understand something.

Back to formal reading

It matters that you are directed to the right book. This is the right book on Passchendaele to understand from a general strategic, to operational, to tactical level what took place.

I read 'Passchendaele: the untold story' first in May for a presentation in June.

The purpose was to lay out the chronology of events and compare two battles within the Passchendaele or 'Third Ypres' conflict relating to command. I took notes: highlighted in the eBook which I then typed up in a Google Doc before creating a presentation. Over two months later I read the book again as if I had never seen the book before; on the one hand I worry about my sieve like brain, on the other I am intrigued to understand what is going on.

From E-Learning IV

Fig.2 Notes taken in Google Docs from the highlight sections in the eBook

On second reading, with the tracks and sleepers of the general chronology becoming established and retained knowledge, and with an essay title ringing in my head, the highlights I make in the eBook are, with a few exceptions, totally different. I am reading the same book, but taking something very different from it. I have a highly selective, easily distracted brain - nothing sticks if it doesn't have to. I know a few people with a photographic memory: they appear to read something once then have the entire contents at their fingertips to apply to a problem. My memory is the opposite - nothing at all that I don't deem of importance to the task at hand will be retained. I have, side by side, the notes I took in May and the notes I am currently taking - they could be from different publications; I struggle to find any common ground. 

There will be a third reading

This third reading will have different purpose as in due course I write a comparative history between Third Ypres: Passchendaele and the First Gulf War to fulfil a desire to respond to something my late grandfather said in 1992 'That's nothing compared to Passchendaele' he said as he watched the First Gulf War unfold on TV. He saw the differences between foot soldiers as unrecognisably different, whereas I saw the prospect of having a leg blown off or being gassed as more than faintly similar. Had the generals used the tactics of 1992 in 1917 they would have gained more ground and lost fewer men; something had been learnt in 75 years of war then.

Fig.3. The mud of the First Gulf War

Visualising the above I imagine a desert; the state of my brain before I read, that over time acquires an invasion of cacti, followed by ground cover plants, until eventually there are established trees and a rich ecosystem.

Hardly surprising, but on second reading you pick out more detail; you see things that you missed, or couldn't take in the first time round. I'm the kind of person who would apply this to entire modules: that the student who wants to should be allowed to, for a considerable discount, to re-sit a module they have already done. Why not even a third time if your goal is to master a subject? A' Level students with poor grades will 'cram' for a year to improve on these. Through-out life things we want to do are achieved as a result of tackling the problem repeatedly until we crack it. 

Finally, I conclude, that given how complex we are, so learning needs to offer a similar level of variety; there can be no perfect system, or learning design pattern. We learn in different ways, and educators teach in different ways. E-learning isn't a panacea, it is simply another approach the complements ones we have always adopted, not least learning directly from experts themselves through talking things through.

More of us should be able to or should have been able to retake classes we flunked - with a different teacher, if not in a different institution. It shocks me to see how a student at school can be put off a subject they enjoy as they don't relate to or get on with the teacher - so change the teacher. 

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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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Does the OU provide the very best distance learning environment?

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 24 Aug 2014, 06:19
From E-Learning IV

 Fig 1. Read a book ... several times, then submit an essay from a list

This is 'learning design' or 'instructional design' written on the back of a fag packet by a loan lecturer. An occassional lecture and student gathering may be meant to add some variety. One sheet of A4 provides the year's curricullum while a second sheet provides a reading list. And all this 'at a distance' - in my case over 200 miles using a Virtual Learning Environment that makes a beginner's guide to DOS written in 1988 look friendly. NOT the OU. Not dissimilar to my undergraduate degree except that it at least had a tutorial most weeks: one to one, or a small group with a 'subject matter expert' is a privileged luxury that works - though yet to be achieved on a massive scale, even if there is a trend this way with massive, open online courses (MOOCs). 

I can compare a variety of institutions as I have studied with so many: Brookes has a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) that is simple and easy to use- it's a Mini Cooper to the OU's Audi Estate. Birmingham's VLE, ironically as I'm studying the First World War with them is like a deep, impenetrable bank of barbed wire. I've given up on their library and so use Amazon ... not always cheap, but I hope to flog off my substantial WW1 library in due course. 

From E-Learning IV

Fig. 2 SimpleMinds (App) mindmap on 'bite and hold' tactics in the First World War

Meanwhile I'm back to the thrilling conclusion as I plod through the mire of a 4,000 word essay that by reading the above at lead three times I will have an answer. Here it adds variety to read it in print, on a Kindle and as an eBook: each reveals something slightly different. I take notes pen on paper, annotate into the eBook and build a mindmap as I go along. But there is no one to share this with, no 21st century 'connectivity', no tutor as online cataylst and guide, no student forum or blog (not for the want of trying).

Or is learning ultimately always you and your soul working in focussed isolation at Masters level without the distraction of others or the tight parameters of a formal module?

Should you feel inclined to take an interest in Passchendaele then this is the most lucid, objective and reasoned contemporary explanation of how and why the chronology of events turned out as they did.

From E-Learning IV

Fig.3. Sir Douglas Haig, Command in Chief of the British Army

Haig and the politicians of the day can and should be held responsible for the unnecessary slaughter of Third Ypres. What was gained over four months in 1917 was lost in three days in 1918. The depth, detail and objectivity of current scholarship shows absolutely that Haig was profligate with the life of his soldiers, flipped and flopped his policy and would not listen to criticism while Lloyd George having gerrymandered his way into the top job as Prime Minister could not get rid of Haig and so failed in his role to supervise his generals. 

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Oh Feck!

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 22 Aug 2014, 16:07
From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1 BBC Weather

Blame the pesky jet stream. It feels odd to be wearing socks and a jumper after so long. There is a bonus: I become the hot water-bottle my wife snuggles up to smile Until she decides the dog sleeping across her cold feet might be less hassle.

"If you're up very early on Sunday you might find frost on your car!"

When will the first snow fall over 'high ground' i.e on the tip of The Shard, Snowdonia, the Lake Distric, Cheviots and Highlands ...

 

 

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The stench of failure is soon covered by the smell of success

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 21 Aug 2014, 09:53
From E-Learning III

 

Fig.1 Education and qualifications. The fun of it. True or False? 

I paraphrase, no doubt from someone else paraphrasing, but it was said in relation to the results our children picked up last week and are getting today. I'm a parent in the camp of having one of each. We want them to do well, we want them to move on from. 

Results are always relevant to context and so often scrambled by personal circumstances; where you are 'at', family life, health, maturity and so on. 

The worst advice I got age 12 or 13 was to keep my options broad; I became a magpie, rather than a specialist. Whilst it is hard to expect a young person to know what it is they want to do, once they know it is this focus, having a goal, that motivates them to do well.

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Happy Grampa Day

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014, 20:20

Fig. 1 Jack Wilson MM with his daughter, Tyne Cot Cemetery, August 1992

I'm sure everyone has a date when they recall a close family member: my late grandfather would have been 118 today. He was born on the family farm in Dalston, Cumberland on this day in 1894. Now that would have been something to get the attention of the news and social media: 118 years old. The oldest man alive celebrated his 111th yesterday and there's a character who still goes into work four days a week in New York - he's 104. If I am not mistaken the oldest person ever to live was a French woman who made it to 126 and only died in the last year or so.

From E-Learning IV

 

Fig. 2. The oldest man in the world ... with more than just one foot in the grave?

Twenty years in a care home? It must depend on the quality of life you have: bed ridden, or like the late Norman Wisdom the life and soul of the party. From about age 86 onwards my grandfather would say, 'I've had a fair innings. His wife had recently died. A decade later he was still coming to 'ours' for Christmas lunch with three sisters in law who in turn were 98 96 and 92 ! They were long livd, frugal, non-alcohol drinking Quakers who kept themselves engage and busy. My late great aunt Mary was doing home visits to 'her old ladies' who were ten years younger than her. This all in the North East (Fenham, Gosforth, Ponteland). 

So, no more 'grampa' (as we called him as children), and no more mum either: she would have been 83. So much for expecting to outline the Queen.

How we mark the passing of a loved one, and what record we have of their lives fascinates me. Who could unscramble the mass of data that we create, or is created on us and digitised in 2014? Has the nature of an personal archive changed? Who has time for it? Can we rely on or get value from an algorithm that seeks out patterns and narratives in a life story as it occurs and once it is over?

In a dozen posts or more here I look at 'life logging' and what it means: for supporting those with dementia, for example, to supporting and gathering a record of value to family and others.

 

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Must see TV

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 18 Aug 2014, 08:39

Fig.1 Great War Diaries

This series, each episode an hour long, features six or so characters per episode, most from episode to episode drawing on their diaries and letters. A lifetime interested in the First World War I am still amazed and thrilled at the stories that are told and the quality of dramatisation. Without any doubt in my mind THIS is the series that our generation will remember in relation to the marking of the centenary of the First World War.

Elfriede Kuhr, featured above, joins us as a 15 year old developing a crush on a German trainee pilot. Born in what is now Poland she went on to marry a Jew and perform in ante-war performances, having to flee Germany in 1933. 

Inspired stuff; though the four universities offering free courses sadly offering little that relates directly to any of this series at all. A lost opportunity. There is a need for a module on the First World War, not niche parts of it, nor a one hundred year sweep from the 1860s to 1960s.

This stunning production, with the highest production values and a budget to match will see many of the actors appearing in movies and TV, with the director surely moving on to Hollywood.

Brilliant

 

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All change on the weather front

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 17 Aug 2014, 10:16

Fig. 1 Sailing on Seaford Bay

Here we go - autumnal weather, socks for the first time in two months, even a jumper and when out on the water waterproofs, spare clothes and a towel.

This squall sent half the fleet in - to shore that is, only one capsized repeatedly. The first race included many cadets, the youngest crew 8 and 11. 

Out on RIB so drenched through. The sea on the other hand is a balmy 19 degrees. Felt like a bath. Time for a dip?

 

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Beware of Phishing ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 15 Aug 2014, 12:33

You'd think I'd be more savvy. Recently I've had an authentic looking email and webpage link from the Inland Revenue suggesting I had a small tax rebate ... only on clicking on links from this that looped back to the same page did I realise something fishy was going on. The recent scam of emails from 'me' came about as I succumbed to what appeared to be an email from AOL saying the storage on my account had reached capacity - plausible having had an AOL account since they took over Compuserve in 1996. WRONG! This was the breach which has seen several hundred emails going to my contact list. AOL have now blocked this. If in doubt phone or text me and judge for yourself. Asking some question like, 'what did we call strawberry sauce on an ice-cream in Beadnell in the 1960s might do it!!'

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New blog post

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 14 Aug 2014, 08:38

Fig. 1 Amongst the many official tributes a personal commemoration of three brothers killed in the First World War

Lewes memorial remembers some 360 names; they've been pinned to specific addresses within walking distance of the memorial. In Southover Ward for the 75th anniversary a book was published detailing the lives of each person - their school record, photo and home and other information, such as playing cricket for the local team or where they worked.

 

Fig.2. Lewes Town Hall War Memorial

Will anyone remember us a hundred years after we have died?

Just as it is important for us to forget as a learning process and challenge, should society forget, filter or edit? Does commemoration in glorify war with its nationalistic, militaristic and religious connotations?

 

 

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New blog post

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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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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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Av Speed 39 mph

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014, 10:52

This was for a 135 mile journey, mostly M23, M25 and M40. I've done worse : 27 mph the same journey. Sometimes you wonder whether to take the car out or not. Crawling arounf the M25 has become my recurring nightmare : you've got to plan for lengthy delays with a tank of furl, water and grub. At least I had our teenage son with me so I got to hear and ask about a subdtantial part of his iTunes playlist.

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Av Speed 39 mph

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014, 11:10
From E-Learning IV

Fig. 1 M25 traffic - on a good day

This was for a 135 mile journey, mostly M23, M25 and M40. I've done worse : 27 mph the same journey. Sometimes you wonder whether to take the car out or not. Crawling around the M25 has become my recurring nightmare : you've got to plan for lengthy delays with a tank of fuel, water and grub. At least I had our teenage son with me so I got to hear and ask about a substantial part of his iTunes playlist. And an automatic - a few years of stop starting in jams made me a convert. I'll have a self-driving car please then climb in the back to sleep, read, watch a movie or go online.

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A must, must listen .... Samuel Pepys

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This BBC Radio 4 drama serial has now run for three years. We are coming to the end I fear as Samuel Pepys gives up his diary. Hasving caught many, if not most of the episodes over the last few years I found this one the must stunning, memorable and relevant. It simply confirms what I have always felt about people, whether we shift in time or place: we are fundamentally the same and will pass through a series of mishaps and moments that become our lives. So tender this one, with Kris Marshal and Katherine Jakeways beautifully bringing to life a laugh out loud, cry to the core script from Hattie Naylor. I can't wait for the TV series and the movie. DON'T ever bother with the diaries themselves - in translation from his code they are what most diaries tend to be - routine and dull with occasional moments of naughtiness and disaster that are lost in the bulk of the text. Hattie Nayloy has revisioned it as a poignant and funny 17th century soap.

15 Minute DramaThe Diary of Samuel Pepys, Episode 5

Sam and Elizabeth are enjoying the sights of Paris, when Elizabeth is suddenly taken ill.

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Get on with it!!!!!

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From E-Learning IV

 Fig. 1 You have sixty minutes. 

I also have one, three and thirty minute timers. I use sixty when I simple MUST get a few hundred words down on the page. I use one minute as a kickstart that can see me happily working away two or three hours later.

This is for some fiction writing. I know that the most crucial thing is to sit down and get on with it. Without distractions. I don't allow myself distractions during this hour. My usual way of doing things is summed up in two words 'anything but ...' Typically I will prepare, research, think about it, jot down some notes ... even sleep on it, even, in fact, especially in the middle of the day.

I've got four or five hours in the bag. I need to lay down a couple more today.

 

 

 

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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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