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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Water wondering wariness

Technology always wins

I spoke too soon about the prowess of my smartwatch and its ability to track my swimming.  It probably does do exactly that, but it doesn’t vouchsafe the information to me, the mere user.  The last time I used the thing for a swim it told me how long I had been swimming, but kept the length of my swim secret.  I am convinced that there must be a way of finding out this information, but it eludes me.
            And that goes for most of the electronic equipment that I use.  It does its job and I am sort-of satisfied with it – but I know that there is much more that I could be getting out of it.
            Take, for example, the example of the smartphone.  I use mine for reading books.  Occasionally, just occasionally I actually use it to phone someone.  And that is it.  Other people, like Caroline for example, use their phones like an extension of their bodies.  There is seamless movement and the phone bends (metaphorically) to her will and information spills out, photos are sent, videos made, voices recorded – well, you get what I am saying.  Her phone does so much more than my small library assistant.  And I have an iPhone!  Cutting edge and all that.
            But, the same thing with the computer: I use mine as a glorified typewriter.  A very expensive typewriter, and one which needs a bulky, expensive to feed machine to produce the end result of the typing.  Which perhaps points up the problem.  For people like Caroline, there is not the same necessity for a hard copy of something.  Her poems are written electronically, retrieved electronically, read electronically and shown electronically.  Me?  I have to have the A4 100 mgs sheets before I believe in the reality of my writing!  Perhaps that attitude is something of my generation and not something that I will ever get rid of.
            My watch, having started well by letting me know that I had swum 1,300 m a few days ago has stubbornly resisted all my best efforts to tell me know how far I have swum since on any occasion.  Press what buttons I please; I can’t get what happened naturally to happen again. 
I could, I hear you say, try reading the instructions and stop trying to prove that I am of a later generation which doesn’t need to read the things.  I do.  And I should give in gracefully.  And who knows?  I might actually have a constant stream of irrelevant information about my swimming technique that I can ignore. 
             I will have to search for instructions on line because there is nothing in what I have at the moment on watch or phone which gives me any idea at all about what I should be doing.  My fear, of course, is that even with the instructions (written in god knows what language) I will still be confused about how to make the damn thing work.

Prejudice justified!

Prejudice has to have an element of unthinking assertion not backed up by evidence.  If there is evidence for what you are saying that it becomes a reasoned point of view.
            So, to those of my fellow citizens who hail from North Wales.
            It turns out, according to recent research and publicised by the BBC that people in North Wales are genetically different from those in South Wales!  It also points out that there is no genetic evidence to show that the Celts are a linked distinct genetic group!  This interesting stuff is to be found at http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-31905764 and give at least some genetic justification to the animosity which sometimes exists between the North and South in Wales!  As the report puts it, “it also finds that people in North and South Wales are more different from each other than the English are from the Scots” – which will come as no surprise to neither North nor South.
            I must admit that I can see more compelling reasons for the perceived differences between North and South based on inequality, politics, history, the Industrial Revolution, the Welsh language, religion, communications, road building, railways, tourism and politics again rather than genetic evidence – but it is interesting none the less.  And worth reading!

Thank goodness there was nothing wrong

A trip to the dentist.  Never one of my favorite appointments, but necessary!
            I will never understand why people, sometimes educated and intelligent people with some understanding of the world, assume that my stuttering attempts at Spanish mean that I will understand fluently what I can’t say.  My dentist was a case in point.
            She spoke with a speed and a passion that did her credit and, to be fair, I did follow a fair amount (I think, but what can I possibly know!) of what she said, she certainly didn’t have that mystified and pitying look that my responses to swift conversations used to have!
            After what I thought was an inordinate amount of socializing, and considering the wear and tear on my nerves having to keep up my end of the conversation (about being warm in cold countries, if you must know) I was almost relieved to sink back into the depths of the dentist’s chair and think calming thoughts about the person who had sharp spiked instruments in my mouth.
            All she did was scrape and clean, but you know how it is when a dentist pokes around in your mouth, it sounds as if they are casually, yet determinedly destroying every scrap of enamel you have left.
            When I unclenched my hands (a typical dentist technique for me) I scrambled to an upright position preparatory to running away and was held back only my the dentist’s laughter as she watched my frantic attempts to escape and as she urged me to calmness.
            €44 that little clean up cost – as I said at the start, thank goodness there wasn’t anything ‘real’ to do!

What’s going on!

A disturbing email from the tutor in the OU urging those people who had not sent in their completed pro-forma giving details of the proposed end of module subject to contact her.  This is disturbing because it was an open email to everyone and this is a week after the deadline for handing it in.  Extensions are easily available in the OU, all you have to do is ask – but this email suggested that people had not handed in their work and not asked for an extension.
            You can imagine that the years of guilt-laden upbringing immediately sprang into play and I assumed that I was one of the people being castigated.  Why I should have thought this I do not know as I know (surely I didn’t dream it) that I sent off my work early!
            That belief meant nothing of course.  I immediately went back to the OU web site, I checked that my list of assignments had registered that I had sent something in.  I checked my past emails and found the notification from the OU that something had been received.  I noted down the reference number of the receipt (we have such things in the OU) and went back to check the reference number on the . . .  You get the idea.  Full out panic.
            The only thing that I have stopped myself doing is downloading a copy of what I have sent.  Which I did when I first sent it just to check that it was what I thought it was.  So, something, which I have checked and for which I have an official OU receipt has been sent.  I am safe.  I think.
            I am still unsettled by the fact that it was an open email.  How many pieces of work has she not had?  Although the pro-forma is unmarked and used mainly as a way of the tutor responding and advising about the work that you propose to do, you fail the course if you do not submit!  What are people doing?
            The great thing, the one technique that you have to learn about distance learning is not to let everyone else panic you.  It is very easily done, and the fact that we students in the North of England Group (Europe) are scattered all over the continent and we, or only a section of us, are only going to come together for the Study Day in May at which point we should all be working on the material, the outline for which we should already have sent in!
            You can see, just as I type the words, they are getting just that little bit frazzled, I am responding to worry and letting my imagination work overtime!
            Be calm, unruly student soul!
            Wait for the tutor’s words, which cannot be far away.  Some people have had the comments on their pro-forma back already.  Which in itself is disturbing but . . . calm!  Get on with the reading of the textbook, do a little light writing and all will be well with the world.  Probably.
            I am sure that I can find more disturbing things to worry about.  Easily!


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