Category: lifeskills

Place, Time, Memory

Iain Sinclair and Alan Moore ruminate a bit on the shifting of memory and history in this video – the present frailties of it with our shifting concepts from the pandemic juggling, but also the rightist reconceptions of memory played out as power forces. That memory – the past – can be colonized by the present, and when the present gets shifty itself….

Moore, Sinclair, Rogers

It brings to mind also the work of Chris Aldrich and his synthesis of various works on space and memory – leylines, songlines – and the nature of colonizers who manipulate space in ways that can destroy or detach cultural memory, discussed nicely with Jorge Arango in a recent episode of The Informed Life.

Some associate this to magick, others to external forces seeking control. Regardless, these become frames by which we can model what we know, have lost, or are uncertain of.

Learning Problems

One of the issues with learning is that many times one interesting nugget will lead to another, and another. This is a good thing – it’s how chains of awareness form. But for one also concerned with focus, or with the challenges of focus, it can manifest as new fodder for those challenges. A blessing of sorts, but one’s list of "hm…" things grows longer.

The honest approach is to mark and capture these things, and then allow them to settle. Review in due course to see which have developed and which can be weeded. David Allen and his research (and fellow followers) would argue that the capture is key – for if one doesn’t, the idea will linger as a distraction rather than an idea…

Manifested this morning by John Naughton’s Memex reference of a new book "Slouching Towards Utopia" on the history of Capitalism by Brad Delong. It’s got all the catnip – an interesting precis, an intriguing bio-blurb from the Atlantic($), and a reminder that DeLong is a oldschool blogger — his site (pre move to Substack in 2021) was on Typepad!

So yes, added to the TBR list.

On Learning Modes

Of late I’ve been returning to the contemporary writing of protoblogger, developer, gadfly, irascible-in-love-with-life Dave Winer, attending to his thoughts via the SMTP cheap-seats of his email archive each day. It’s been a good reminder of the early blogging days, when the concept of putting things out on the net was often based on a sharing of what you were learning, doing, reading and what you felt might be of some benefit to the other brains (and keyboards) who were also learning, thinking and doing.

And also of note in this morning’s transom was this lovely piece by AJ Jacobs reflecting on 40 years of teaching. Partly a "the more they change, the more they stay the same" but also a lovely capture of a moment of connection and the experience of shared revelation. It brought further to mind the work of my Father, now these 30 years gone. I suspect that he would have believed that what Jacobs was able to do with the student to bring together humanities and a wonder at the human experience with their scientific ambitions and endeavors was not dissimilar to his believe that in a university the goal should be to help minds developing to merge both book and lab learning with the experience of crafting research itself – that our minds approach the world best when they have more than one tool to hand, and at our times of discovery – for those who have the university in that process – we can structure experience of these different modes relatively safely.

It was this interest in seeing experiential and intellectual learning developed in partnership that led to my father establishing the Fox Glen Fund, which provides a modest contribution to this effort for students in the Biology department at IU. I see that this year’s recipient once again is moving in areas more complex than my own mind can comprehend beyond buzzwords.

Some Things Making Isolation Bearable

As we near 60 working days in physical isolation, days since AZ’s office has been closed, it’s an optimal time to reflect on a few things that have made this period better than it might have been. .

I say this from an aspect of comfort and relative ease. Anne’s been working consistently throughout the process (and my job search has quietly continued). Many other haven’t had as straightforward a time – business has dried up for consultants, frontline workers may have been furloughed or worse, sole proprietors haven’t had as solid a fallback as they deserved.

Consider this part of a series as we move into the "next normal"..

One appliance in our house which has gotten a lot of use is our hot water kettle. This had already spun up while one of us was home, but one ritual we’ve added to each workday is a morning tea break at around 10am. So one of us starts the kettle, puts the tea in a pot, and we have a quick break between calls or meetings. Ritual helps.

We’ve been given to mental vegetation (or recovery) to some degree, but a lot of TV can be a bit wearing – so as a break, AZ and I have been watching a cosy cooking video programme on YouTube, Glen and Friends. In truth, I don’t know the whole backstory, but from what I can determine Glen’s a videographer and home chef, who has been experimenting with cooking techniques for some time. Each show has a pattern – some discussion about a recipe – where they found it (frequently from old community cookbooks), what he’s done to make it work today. How important it is to wing it – because in our tricky times you may not have quite the ingredients you want. Then a 2 camera setup films the preparation, with successes and mistakes. Magically, at the time for serving, Julie shows up to help taste and opine. Each episode is about 10 minutes, and each will give you a comfy belly and/or inspiration.

A while back, AZ and I connected with a group of music geeks who meet periodically to discuss the records included in 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. In previous months, we’d all get together in a local pub like The Red Lion, have a bite and a beverage, and hash out that meeting’s selection. But with the closures that wasn’t an option. Happily, I’d plumped for a M365 tenant for my learning, so we’ve been able – with some hiccups and abstentions, to move to online. It’s great to see people’s faces and hear their (unmuted) voices regularly, sharing ideas on a topic we each care about.

In tricky times, it’s been great to have streams of music – either from our own collection, or from those providers of challenging payment practices – so it’s been wonderful to see Bandcamp’s payout model. But the podcast listening – that’s way down.

What’s working for y’all?