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12 May 2014

Read your way across the USA...

... in this pretty cool map:

Credit

I'm not sure I agree with "The Virgin Suicides" choice for Michigan.. surely Hemingway's Nick Adams stories are far more famous?  But I love the concept.

04 April 2014

"I came there at noon. That is, I came somewhere at noon, but I wasn't sure where."

This version of the map of Gethen is copyright © 2009 by Milan Dubnicky, the cartographer. source

 Only two more weeks to go with my MOOC course. I'm still in there, I'm a survivor!  It's a great course -- hard work, reading and writing every week, but if you're at all interested in fantasy and sci fi check it out.  I'm getting a little tired of writing formulaic, 300-word "the significance of item X in  book Z" essays, but I can cope, I hope.  (Comment from last week's peer review: "The inclusion of your psychological state during the writing is engaging, but not exactly enlightening." Oh well - nothing like a shedding another layer of ego!)  Last week we read Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles; this week the assigned test is Ursula K LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness. Having never read either previously, I feel the world has just opened up in whole new directions. We always must read broadly and this is why. I don't know why it took me so long to come to science fiction as an adult reader, but there you go. LeGuin is my new hero. There's a Paris Review "Art of Fiction" interview with her here.  The quote in this post's title is from Left Hand of Darkness. It pretty much sums up how I feel about 90% of the time....

12 March 2014

Butter Converter

This butter conversion calculator is my new best friend. And he's got a whole bunch of buddies, including a flour converter calculator, a yogurt converter calculator, and more. Wow. The perfect antidote to my number one pet peeve: US food bloggers who don't include metric ingredients measures in their recipes....

05 March 2014

Pancake Math

It's a puzzle... you have your perfect pancake batter. But it makes either too many or too few. What to do?

Well, a little higher mathmatics is all, apparently:
Students from Sheffield University's Maths Society (SUMS) developed, trialled and tested a formula which enables pancake-lovers to adjust for preferred thickness, griddle size, and number desired. Source.

And if that's too complex, the lovely students at Sheffield U have produced a handy-dandy calculator. It looks like this:


To use it you'll have to go to the university's website. Note, they're coming from the UK so when they say "pancake" they're thinking crepe-size, not the smaller American type. Bon appetit!

28 February 2014

The MOOC-olution

Personally, I'm loving my MOOC -- offered through Courersa, it's a 10 week course called Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, taught by Eric Rabkin, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Professor of English Language and Literature, and Professor of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. (I've agonized about it a little, here and here.*)

This MOOC is no push-over. It's a novel a week, plus an essay (300 words), plus peer reviews, plus video lectures. Plus the forums, although I don't have a lot of free time to hang around in them.

Overall, it's brilliant. My brain is positively pinging with ideas and connections. And even more, I like being part of a new kind of learning, I'm glad to be a guinea pig in this thoroughly open experiment with opening university-level education to whoever has an internet connection.

Other people have described the history and potential ramifications better than I.. if you're curious check out Thomas L Friedman on MOOCs in the New York Times.



*I got a "5" on my Dracula essay this week, by the way. Ouais!

21 February 2014

Event: The Time of the Author

What does it mean for an author to be contemporary or modern?
How do artistic relevance and current affairs relate to one another?
How can literature and imagination respond
to the challenges of our time?


the time of the author

wed 12.03 | flagey | 20:15 I en

Seven authors from as many different countries share reflections on what is the role and place of literature in today's world, and on how literature and news relate to one another.
With Céline Curiol (FRA), Joke Hermsen (NLD), Iman Humaydan (LBN), Jens Christian Grøndahl (DNK), Anne Provoost (BEL), Goce Smilevski (MKD) and Juan Gabriel Vásquez (COL). Host: Ortwin De Graef.
This special evening concludes the first Passa Porta Seminar, during which writers and thinkers will be spending three days together (from 10 to 12 of March) at Villa Hellebosch (Vollezele). They will be presenting keynotes and share ideas.

wed 12.03 | 20:15 | Flagey (Studio 1), place Sainte Croix, 1050 Bruxelles
EN | € 10 / 8
Booking advised: www.flagey.be or 02 641 10 20.

Presented by PassaPorta. For more information see here.

19 February 2014

A little horn tooting

I'm rather pleased at what I did in the Alice in Wonderland essay (approached it from the angle of the "three-trial narrative structure"). It's a little hard to keep a straight face while writing phrases like that, but there you go. It is a univeristy course.

In the meantime a little project I've been working on is now live on Eat This Poem.   Are you a bookworm who loves to eat? A literary-minded traveller?  Check out the Literary City Guide for Brussels, compiled by yours truly.

Peter Pan in the Parc d'Egmont (photo my own)