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Monday, February 11, 2013

Up top!


cartoon by T. McCracken
A refugee from basketball, I have ascended two floors to escape the inane jumping of freaks and taken refuge in the more soothing exertions of intellectual exercise, reading through my OU materials on nineteenth century Manchester in the company of Engels, Faucher and the notable Irish Chartist, Ross.  I have availed myself of the full range of methods the OU uses including text book, CD, DVD and website and am just about to start on a re-reading of Hard Times, which is our set book for this part of the course.

As I failed to find the prescribed edition of Hard Times when I was in Britain, I have decided to buy a copy for the Kindle.  There are two problems associated with this purchase.  The first is that I will not be able to make page references when I quote – and that is something that the OU is very strict about.  I only hope that they will accept a location because that is the only thing that I can see which identifies the actual page.  I am sure that there is a way of finding the page for the paper edition but I don’t know how to get it.  The second problem is that I cannot find a way to get the computer to print out all the highlighted passages that I have identified.  It gives me a list but only of the first few words.  This is something that I will have to work on with the able help of YouTube.

Tomorrow is the first day of Chocolate Week.  So far it has been fairly subdued – mainly because I am laying low on a fairly constant basis when I am in school and flitting between buildings in a way that can only be described as fundamentally deceptive.  That means that my dynamic character is not there to egg on the participants to more and more chocolaty excesses.  But, I remain confident that we will have a truly calorie filled week ahead.

My reading of Game of Thrones by George R R Martin has now taken me through four hefty volumes and the saga looks nowhere near complete.  In his oeuvre the baddies are by far the most interesting characters and when they are not being manipulative and duplicitous the narrative slows to a shuddering halt.  He shares with his other R R counterpart the delight in creating generations of characters with (for him) fascinating back stories and never stops himself from filling pages with lengthy descriptions of genealogy, giving loving space to the detailing of heraldic devices and always giving characters their full knightly names.

When there is action Martin is worth reading, but his longueurs can be mind numbingly self-indulgent.

All that having been said, I have bought the next volume in the series because too many of the baddies are still alive and they did not play too significant a part in the concluding part of the last volume.  And he has written the next too, but I think I might well have reached saturation point by the end of this one.  And anyway they are all on the Kindle so they do not take up any further shelf space.  And that is something!

Toni is now well into his course and is constantly “doing things” on his computer which are all counting towards his first assessment.  Mine is next month when the long essay on Hard Times will have to be handed in and then the month after is the exam and the month after that the next course starts which will take me up to October when the next is due to kick off.  It’s a full life in the OU, you never have a problem about what to do with any spare time that comes to hand.

All this self, self, self stuff is partially mitigated by the fact that we have made an executive decision to become more ecological.  At least as far as rubbish is concerned.

Having seen a rather fine multi-compartment bin in one of the supermarkets and purchased it our throwing away of stuff has become fraught with discussion and debate.  Toni has printed out, and I have plasticised, a whole series of mini-posters which should give us definitive information about what to put where.  Unfortunately it is no exhaustive and we are constantly wandering about with a woeful expression and a small piece of detritus trying to find a suitably coloured receptacle to receive it.  Some of our “discussions” have reached 3.7 on the IKEA Furniture Building Scale of Argument but they have calmed down now that we have instituted another bin simply for “rubbish” – which is where we place all the questionable items now.  Harmony is restored.

In my bones I feel that the school is planning one of their infamous “Meetings” – I put the word in inverted commas because it bears no relationship to any even with that designation to which I have been previously subjected.  And they last such a ridiculously long time too that I sometimes find myself thinking back with a certain degree of longing to the Curriculum Meetings of yore when the only thing that kept some of my colleagues going was watching me to see if this was going to be the meeting in which I finally broke down and wept with sheer horror at what man could inflict on man!

I have to keep reminding myself that I am in the School on the Hill by mine own choice (you can see the effect that Game of Thrones is having on my writing style) and I can walk away at any moment.  Though I also have to admit that would be a positively caddish thing to do.  Think of the children as that character in The Simpsons keeps calling.

The most important new thing that I have discovered today has been how to print out highlights from Kindle eBooks.  As usual, YouTube was invaluable in pointing me in what appears to be the right direction.  It turns out that there is a web site called Kindle.Amazon.com where all your highlights are stored in the Cloud and from which it appears possible to copy and paste and have printed out all the hard work that goes into reading and annotating a book.  Disconcertingly, I have already done this on another edition of Hard Times, but that one does not seem to make it into the airy reaches of stored material.  I will have to investigate further to see if those highlights and notes can be rescued somehow.

In some sort of magical way all of my computing devices should be linked up so that I can get to anything on one by using another.  This is not quite working yet, but I am sure that it will eventually yield even to my inept keystrokes!

So much is technical and things happen at an electrical rate which is both exciting and totally disconcerting.

But I am attempting to ride the wave and I do, after all, have grandiose and expensive gear with which to do it!



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