OU blog

Personal Blogs

Richard Walker

About 'The Fair Queen'

Visible to anyone in the world

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

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

The Fair Queen of Elfland

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

      To my astonishment.

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

      They wished us so much happiness.

But I must never speak again.
Except as a blind prophet.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

On The Rainbow Bridge

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 11 Aug 2015, 02:20

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

Sunset sky with a bright iridesent cloud

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

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

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

Here is a gallery of remarkable photos of iridescent clouds.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Autumn

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 10 Aug 2015, 02:12

Leaves, why look back

Shouldn't we look forward?

Homesickness.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Death and Transfiguration

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 10 Aug 2015, 01:01

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

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

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


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Gone

Visible to anyone in the world

A very mild man

So polite

Always drank the weakest beer and

never bitter.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Report on migrant 0425

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 9 Aug 2015, 04:27
About 0425

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

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

Crossing 15 June 2012

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

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

Identifying Iraheta

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Grove Made Silly

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 7 Aug 2015, 04:30
Sample definitions from our upbeat Musipedia

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



Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Saturday, 22 Aug 2015, 03:23)
Share post
Richard Walker

Clerihew

Visible to anyone in the world

As far as we know it

No serious poet

Ever wrote a clerihew.

Or very few.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Haiku Without Title

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 6 Aug 2015, 00:45

a fly buzzing around

with no idea you exist.

summer visitor

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Be geon burn glowendee

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 5 Aug 2015, 02:59

Here is my attempt at translation into Anglo Saxon.

cume drohte mid mec healsgebedda

be geon burn glowendee and ælfscíenee


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Come to the bright stream

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 9 Aug 2015, 20:24
Purple spiked flowers by a stream

Come live with me my love

By a stream.

Glowing and bright.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Late summer haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 4 Aug 2015, 04:00

Suddenly, late summer

the millstream's clogged.

All of us jostling against winter.


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

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

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 3 Aug 2015, 03:48

Cemetery: Half a tree.

Elves:  Music legend.

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

Gothic: Report illness.

Grave: Seriously illegal party.

Igor: Enthusiastic assistant.

Necromancer: A vampire.

Sorcery: I'm really sorry.

Vampire: Burning van.

Vault: Unit of electricity, as applied by Igor.

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

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

I saw and remembered

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 30 Jul 2015, 01:19

My parents wouldn't understand me now.

Even my neighbors grow rhubarb.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Hot From The Kitchen

Visible to anyone in the world

12 must-know definitions for the budding kitchenista

Boil: See sauce

Broil: Not common

Confit: Too big

Fillet: Try anyway

Grater: Less reduced (see reduced)

Mincing: Male voice choir

Oath: Used for porridge

Pastry: Predecessor of pay for

Quenelle: Oath

Reduced: Deuced again

Sauce: Painful skin complaint

Tureen: Computer pioneer

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Sharon Hartles, Thursday, 6 Aug 2015, 13:44)
Share post
Richard Walker

Evidence Makes us Smart and Stronger

Visible to anyone in the world

How do we learn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feedback please!

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Learning, learning, learning

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 26 Jul 2015, 15:46

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

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

So I liked an article I just read.

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

The article is here

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

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

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


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

A haiku thinking of winter

Visible to anyone in the world

No poem's a blanket.

Even the smallest have tiny holes

Leaking infinity.


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Goethe

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 23 Jul 2015, 03:55

Although less remembered now, Wolfgang Goethe was a German polymath and intellectual with gigantic influence in his time and place.

In 1782 he was ennobled by the Duke of Saxe-Weimar and became Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. This was an example of "Herr today, von tomorrow".


Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

long ago haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 21 Jul 2015, 01:16

i

still remember the morning

your parents were away

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Richard Walker, Monday, 10 Aug 2015, 01:46)
Share post
Richard Walker

The Language of Flowers

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 21 Jul 2015, 14:24

As more and further evidence that our Team are Close to the Concerns of the Nation and at the same time -

Well and hale in point of body

Healthy in mind

Sound in mental conception

etc. etc

- we offer the following floral arrangement, or 'ensemble of horticulturalist daffynitions'.

Rose: Orthogonal to columns.

Columbine: Purchase of columns. Usually illegal.

Violets: Aggressive problem resolution.

Feverfew: Gosh, I'm hot!

Primrose: Inhibited rose.

Larkspur: Unlikely purring of lark.

Clematis: So come on, eat yours.

Orchid: Metal Mickey.

Speedwell: Dialect comment in first person plural on successful urinary function, for example after communal consumption of Dandelions.

Peony: Still got problems?




Permalink 5 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Friday, 24 Jul 2015, 01:21)
Share post
Richard Walker

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world

Mosquito

Summer and the same old thing.

Good luck, let's enjoy it you and I.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Richard Walker

Silliness Rebuked

Visible to anyone in the world

A relative sent a wounding message to me, on the occasion of yesterday's flippant post, as follows

'How does this stupidity make people admire Science?'

We felt this harsh and lacking in educational principles. As a riposte here are some definitions from our companion 'Dictionary of Poesy'.

Verse: Not better.

Ode: A debt.

Sonnet: Snot offit.

Metre: A date.

Dacyl: Non-scary pterodactyl.

Consonance: Not vowels.

Paradox: Two dogs.

Quatrain: Enquiry about presence of drain.

Iamb : Second part of Cartesian saying.

Pastoral: Beyond words.


Permalink 5 comments (latest comment by Simon Reed, Wednesday, 22 Jul 2015, 05:55)
Share post
Richard Walker

Chemistry made silly

Visible to anyone in the world

We have recently begun work on the Uxbridge Dictionary of the Periodic Table. Here are 10 sample entries

Bromine: A mean brother.

Iodine: Thanks Dean!

Flourine: The floor.

Silicon: Pathetic attempt at a scam.

Boron: I'm not interested but continue if you must.

Gold: Similar to rhinitis.

Antimony: Preferring barter.

Zinc: Place for washing dishes.

Arsenic: Buttock injury.

Hafnium: 50% of Holmium.



Permalink Add your comment
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 1793330