Wednesday 13 April 2016

Farewell to fractals

Well, it didn't take long to discover / decide that doing two blogs was never going to work. I really enjoyed writing the posts for Good Friday and Easter. The one on jazz bassoon just appeared out of nowhere, but didn't exactly make for a coherent blog. And then the inspiration just wasn't there. So I think that Everyday Fractals is going back into hibernation mode. Anything I want to comment on will no doubt fit, somehow, into the Erin Mae saga. Links to boating can usually be manufactures somehow

So it's farewell to fractals, at least until the Erin Mae blog comes to an end or some momentous series of events persuade me otherwise.


Tuesday 29 March 2016

Jazz bassoon

Over the last couple of days I sorted out the music on my computers. That meant we listened to some which hadn't had an airing for a long time, and during a late lunch today we were playing a Weber clarinet concerto. Two tracks later it was one of his bassoon pieces. We were reminded why bassoons are renowned for being the humorous member of the orchestra, but between giggles I suddenly thought what a great jazz instrument it would make. A quick internet search indicated that others had got there, but that it's just a small, niche market.

While trawling I came across Mike Rabinowitz's website, and was able to stream some tracks from his albums – it's pretty awesome stuff. No downloads available, nor from iTunes or Amazon, and I'd want to let my fascination settle a bit before thinking about getting a CD shipped from the States. But it was great to enjoy the originality of his playing.

Serendipity! If it hadn't been wet over Easter we'd have gone out for some walks – I wouldn't have got down to sort out the music, I wouldn't have scanned and imported the artwork on my Weber CD and thought about playing it, and I'd never have discovered jazz bassoon. Of course, if it had been fine and we'd gone out walking, something even more stupendous might have happened! However, it's nearly always good not to fret about what might have been.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Easter Rising

It's been in all the news – the commemorations in Ireland of the uprising in 1916 that started the roll towards independence. Part of the narrative has been about the beginning of the end for the British Empire. I find that intriguing, because I grew up knowing that the pink bits on the world map belonged to us, but I don't ever remember the notion that Ireland had once been part of it until it was lost to us. That part of history seemed to fall into a different category, and the relationship with Ireland of a different sort. Obviously not how the Irish saw it.

The uprising took many by surprise. The British, of course, but also even some involved with Irish nationalism in various ways, such as the poet W B Yeats. He gets an honourable mention for having been responsible for introducing me to my best beloved. Not directly, you understand, but because an interest in his poetry had given me an interest in the north-west of Ireland, which led to my meeting with this girl from Donegal who had also recently arrived to work in Edinburgh. So many moons ago…!

Today we were down on the beach at 7 a.m. with about 50 friends to celebrate the other Easter Rising. The original, if you like, and this one a great victory. Vindication for the central character and (a bit like 1916) the end for the occupying forces, even if they didn't all know it yet. Most of his fellow Jews believed that when God finally intervened to sort everything out, one of the accompanying events would be the physical resurrection of everyone who'd died for the cause. So when his followers started proclaiming that he had risen from the dead, three days after his crucifixion, the implication was obvious – God really had started to intervene, and what Jesus had done was how. No wonder you couldn't keep them quiet!

And you still can't. Down on the beach today it was cold and windy and the rain was beating down – but you should have heard the singing!

Friday 25 March 2016

Friday like no other

"Turn the other cheek", he said. "Go the extra mile." And when it came to his own turn, he did.

Mind you, it wasn't a universal, timeless call to inaction or passivity. It had a context – where the nationalist agenda of armed resistance to the occupying army was actually a pagan way of doing things. Using Caesar's methods to kick out Caesar might have seemed a good idea to some, but it wasn't the way to make Israel the light of the world. It certainly wasn't the way God's rule was going to arrive. But it most definitely would be the route to national calamity. "If only you could have seen", he said, "what would bring you peace."

So it's really ironic that, when he was executed, it was as a revolutionary – that's what the charge sheet over his head implied. Of course, the authorities also needed a different charge to satisfy the general population, who rather admired a revolutionary. The conviction they secured was one of blasphemy, and that did the job just fine.

They're two of the charges that still produce most vilification. One half of the world wants to execute all blasphemers. The other half wants to kill all terrorists. Neither has any intention of coming to terms with the possibility that the meek might inherit the earth. But the one who was executed, meekly, on this day in history, for being both a blasphemer and a terrorist, was indeed blazing a trail for doing just that.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Picking up the fractal

Boating has meant blogging. Blogging has been an enjoyable way to reflect on boating experiences.

We've been attempting to boat for about half the year. During the other half we're back home, and the boating blog slowly grinds to a halt. Posts become patchy, in spite of good intentions.

But fractal life continues. So much good stuff goes on. And the world out there is forever challenging and changing. So perhaps there's room for a different blog, one that looks out beyond boats and boating.

The point will be largely the same – to give me a space for writing about things. Who knows? I might find it's sustainable, though the frequency remains to be seen. And who knows? Someone else might read it from time to time.

Friday 13 November 2009

Pebble Paddling

My overall responses to PebblePad have been mixed. I'm sure there are some really good examples of its use out there, and I would have liked to have had the time to look for them. In conclusion:

1. I think the attractiveness of the interface invites the user to get stuck in, and could be very appealing to visually-motivated people.

2. As an e-portfolio tool, I think it has the potential to work really well, especially for a student building up an evidence-based account of their learning. At some crucial points it deliberately invites the user to reflect on an experience or issue, in addition to describing it. It also encourages the user to approach projects in definite ways. By suggesting that a meeting needs to be written up, with specific outcomes identified, it pushes the user into some good practice.

3. In my own context, I think it could have a strong appeal at Foundation level and perhaps at Level I. I'm less convinced about it for portfolio based work at a higher level. It seems overkill for collaboration, given the number of websites out there that enable you to do that for free, though if you are using it anyway that aspect is perfectly usable, and permissions seem easy to manage.

4. It has the illusion of being whatever you want it to be. At the start that can be a bit scary - what do I want it to be? But as you get into it, it seems to be fairly prescriptive in the way it handles things. That can then be disappointing as you discover its limitations, or a relief as you uncover its positive aspects.

I think that a student encouraged to start using PebblePad for a well-structured project, and given clear instructions for managing the initial stages of its use, might well find that they began to explore it for a number of different purposes, and could find it useful.

PebblePad's CV

Last exercise: create a CV in PebblePad. Once again, it took a while to get a feel for how it all worked, in spite of the excellent video introductions. However, we got there in the end.

My response to the creation of Webfolios and Blogs was largely positive. Both of those follow some standard conventions and the implementation is good. With a Webfolio you are creating a mini website around a specific topic. A Blog is a Blog. The CV was less satisfactory.

1. You can't seem to get all the info you want appearing. For example, you can get information into PebblePad about the institution which awarded a degree, but there didn't seem to be a way to get this to appear in the CV. The dates of the awards are listed, but they are given as complete dates, not just the year, which I would have preferred

2. You can rearrange the order in which you want the basic information to appear, but you can't, for example, get 'D.o.B' or equivalent, to appear just before your date of birth.

3. An annoying glitch means that while the title 'Qualifications' is capitalised, the next section title appears as 'roles and responsibilities', all in lower case. On a CV, where you trying to make an impression, that is criminal.

It seems to me that a CV is a more complex document than a blog or a webfolio, and while much of it can be customised, the bits that can't spoil the overall effect. PebblePad seems to acknowledge this by suggesting that you might upload your CV as a Word document. But then you lose the whole purpose of having a customisable electronic version, available in different forms as the click of a mouse.