Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I just finished doing an online interview with a webmaster (a grand master) which you can read the first part of here
NB: 31 August 2003 this site (like other links below) appears to be intermittent - due to maintenance - try later if you don't get through

You can also find it by going to www.starwarz.com (or just put StarWarz in Google, if you want). That's an interesting node, and you can then go on to T'Bone's Star Wars Universe.

It's a great site, and we had fun putting the words together, and he has added pictures and stuff - I like the result. When I finish changing my Jabba pages I will put a permanent link to this.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

After finding Grand Illusions I was racking my brains for the address of another site I found a while ago, containing 'impossible objects' made from playing cards. Well, this morning I found my way back!

They are called WOW cards, and they are at Ian Rowland's website. He performs all over the world doing a 'Beyond the Psychic' show. No Uri Geller he, he has a self-deprecating sense of humour and self-mockery (while obviously still proud of the great stuff he can do).

It was always Geller's vanity that annoyed me (I remain an honorary member of the circle of conjurers who like fooling people, but not kidding them it is anything 'paranormal'. And speaking of paranormal, have a look at the impossible objects on Ian's site, which he calls PPOs (Permanent Paranormal Objects) which make a ship in a bottle look like child's play. (Though sadly the links to Angus Lavery, and the spoon that changes shape were dead links when I visited today).

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Here is an absolutely fantastic (in the true sense of the word!) site.

I found it at lunch-time, and it is a serious temptation to goof off during work! Fortunately the phone keeps going, so I am managing to hold off until I get home...

I love magic, but not just conjuring. The whole realm of optical illusions, puzzles, mindbenders, brainteasers and amazing gadgets is a natural extension of conjuring. This site is called Grand Illusions and they certainly are.

In their shop (one click on from the free area) you will also find they have some extraordinary toys (a few of which I saw several years ago when a guy just pulled them out of his bag at a juggling convention...)

All over the site there is stuff to try, animated examples, things to make and do. Oh, and for Judith there is even the address of the only orrery maker left in England.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I came across a Star Wars 'research' page the other day - Starkiller - The Jedi Bendu Script Site - so I contacted them about the few old call-sheets which I came across recently, in an old box. Not much of a souvenir, and I returned my (numbered) script sheets twenty years ago....

Funnily enough, I walked away from the shoot with my bits of script, and then sent them back, very apologetic, later (I wanted to work again!) - I know, because I found the humble letter, too. As it happens, I don't think the people in the office were going to chase me up on it, so I probably could have kept them. Hey ho.

You are talking to a man who gave away an 'almost new' crew shirt for 'Revenge of the Jedi' just a couple of years ago (before I discovered just how much it might have been worth!)

And the young guy I gave it to wore it all the time, and works in the countryside, so it is well trashed now (I hope I am not making any collectors cry out there).

Anyway, Hi to Björn and T'Bone - I have just posted off the copies....
I had a charming email today from Miles Hochstein, who has added my autobiography pages to his page of illustrated lives. I am very flattered, especially to be in the company of Tesla and Einstein!

Monday, July 21, 2003

Yolande Jodi is 35 today. Happy Birthday out there!

To Tom and Sharon - peace and love........

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Another larger than life character (though completely different from Michel Thomas) is Harry Knowles, the founder of the Ain't It Cool News website

I found his book, "Ain't It Cool? Kicking Hollywood's Butt" in our library stock, and it's a great read. The opening chapter, on his family background, is just wild!
"From childhood on we are conditioned to associate learning with tension, effort, concentration, study. I n essence, learning equals pain. The educational experience has been a painful one, and has capped the immense learning potential of each child. This is a tragedy." p 320 The Test of Courage: A biography of Michel Thomas.

Or go look on his website

Although, unless you have a lot of money, I would recommend borrowing his language learning material from your local library...his courses are really expensive, short though they are.
I have been looking at the biography of Michel Thomas, which I will not try to summarise here, but I did find good quotes about his attitude to learning and the educational establishment. Anyone who knows me knows how much I disliked the education I had, and yet how much I enjoy learning. I work for the Leisure and Lifelong Learning group in my local council now, which just about sums up why I happened to be a juggler for a while...there was no urge to be a performer, I just wanted to spend the bulk of my time in Leisure and Learning...and that particular skill happened to support itself.

It also took me into teaching - and I always thought of teaching as 'sharing an enthusiasm' and overcoming people's bad learning experiences - juggling was a particularly simple (but apparently difficult) skill, which could rapidly give people a sense of success and achievement. The lessons learned - in 'learning how to learn' could be applied to other areas of life. I always thrived with self-selected students, but often had trouble with ready-made groups doing my course as a compulsory event. Much harder work.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Just listening to Paul Jones' Blues programme on BBC2, and was knocked out by a '21st Century' blues mix thing

Title: Ride On
Artist: Skip Little Axe McDonald
Album : Session CDR

and you can hear it (about 12 minutes in) on the playback on the BBC site.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

For some background to Wednesday 9th's Joke Error Page story, see here
"Never memorize something that you can look up." -- Albert Einstein

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Definitely Joke of the Day!

Put weapons of mass destruction into Google and click I'm Feeling Lucky

You will apparently get a page not found message, but look more closely.....and read carefully....

Sunday, July 06, 2003

And having corrected my timings, I thought I should analyze what I am doing a bit.

I started this Blog when my previous public one - Thinking Allowed - started feeling frivolous and irrelevant after 11 September 2001. And, no, it wasn't just out of respect for people dying (people do die - thanks to US foreign policy - every day) BUT it also wasn't just to bite my tongue because of my sarcastic attitude to most people 'of The Book' (they've been fighting each other since Old Testament times, I just wish they'd leave me out...)

It was just a natural break.

Since then the archives of notes have piled up, and now I am 18 months in I thought I should tidy up. I am printing off hard copy of most of it (so I can edit in the old-fashioned way) and will eventually remove it all. Maybe then I will stick back the good stuff in my writings page...
In case you don't quite get why I love Michel Thomas, it's to do with teaching. I listen for teaching technique.

Both my parents were highly respected teachers in different arts.

When I looked at NLP (now a bit of a cult) it was because the founders had studied great teachers, to see if it was a transmittable skill. It's still not clear if it is.

Certainly you can learn some basic tricks. Perhaps it's the few extra lifetimes of experience which make the difference. (That's for the Buddhists).

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Wow, what a fantasy! To get a job working for Blogger and Google on the West Coast!

I am not even applying right now, because I am in love with the person I live with, who has a locked-in life here right now, and because I still have stuff to learn about computing through the job I hold....plus I have the Star Wars connection to work on...

The government here, however, just moved the goal posts for the Baby Boomers (they knew we were coming since 1947, why do they still act surprised?).

They didn't say "we don't have enough to pay those pensions we promised in return for all that National Insurance you paid" ...no, they say "we are against age discrimination, so we don't think it should be compulsory for employers to 'let you go' when you are 65 years old" - in other words, if you don't have enough to stop working, you can work till you drop...

Nice of them.... :-) that's the Irony Check - yes I am joking.
I forgot this guy. William Nowik. I just remembered.

Enjoy his website - pictures and writing. Here

PS: remember artists are bohemian, and unshockable, and find all words and images equally interesting - so don't be surprised if you come across a few surprises...

And don't ever say I didn't warn you................
Another small joy, today. I came across the Michel Thomas language learning tapes/CDs in the library.

What fun! His tapes are of himself and two students going through a logical introduction to language. As English contains both Germanic and 'Latin' elements he points out how much you already know, and then gently takes you through a simple logical progression of communicating. Excellent!

Whenever I have tried to learn languages, or to teach what little I knew to others, I have always pointed out similarities and general rules - but this guy is a relaxed genius at it.

I have dabbled in all three languages so far, and the important thing is the feeling of success, and achievement, and the feeling that you could go off and improvise a dialogue almost straight away.

If you don't like tapes and such, you can hire Michel himself for about $5000 a day....

He was also a war hero, and his biography is there in Military Studies - but I would like to finish with this quote from his website:

"However, it was a single sentence -- a negative statement -- made by a psychology professor at the Sorbonne, which influenced Michel and changed his life. This statement -- "nobody knows anything about the learning process of the human mind" -- drove him to devote his life to probing the learning process. It is his deeply held conviction that the biggest weapon in maintaining a free society is education and an educated citizenry."
Enjoying my lunch-hour skimming the web - looking for the original author of Desiderata (no, it wasn't written in 1692) I came to InfoAnarchy and by browsing ended up looking at the book
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Which can be bought as a book or downloaded for free - I haven't decided yet, but I enjoyed this quote about it:

"In his modernization of wearing your karma on your sleeve, society is governed by reputation and actions. This is not so much an ideal world, as a practical one which keeps considerable adventure and moves in anything but boring ways. 'The whole point ..was to be more reputable than the next ad-hoc, to succeed on merit, not trickery, despite assassinations and the like."

Friday, July 04, 2003

I am suffering from déjà vu again

Listening to this new Bill Hicks CD, and he is doing a routine about Sadaam Hussain and George Bush, and the alliance of the Brits and Yanks to go in and clean out a country which is heavily armed (with stuff we've sold them). And it's 1992.

"How do you know they have weapons of mass destruction?" he might have asked these days...

'Well, we looked at the receipt.

And, as soon as that cheque clears - we're going in!"
Day off today.

Tidied my room.

Changed a few bits on the website.

Dull weather.

Usual kind of diary people keep.
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