Category Archives: NaBloPoMo

One Hundred and Twenty Reports to Write

i-love-mathsI have committed myself to writing a blog post a day for the whole of November for National Blog Posting Month. Today is my 29th blog of NaBloPoMo but I really have other things to do that need my time. I have to write a report for each of my 120 students.

I am  a maths teacher. I teach GCSE maths in a Further Education college to students who failed their GCSE maths when they were at school. I love mathematics and I love my students but I sometimes find my job disheartening because my students do not love mathematics, no matter what I do to share the love with them. I spend hours looking for new ways to teach maths that are different  from the ways they were taught at school, because the ways they were taught at school didn’t work for them. I enthuse about the beauty of mathematics. I show them awesome visualisations like this one.  I tie them to the table leg and make them walk round the table to teach them about loci.

But they moan and say that this won’t be on the exam paper. They just want to do past papers.

What they really want to do is go out on their horses or their tractors, or go and play rugby or football. They went to college to study agriculture, equine or sport, not maths. They already feel like failures because they failed their maths. Now they have to sit in a classroom and do maths while their friends who passed their GCSEs are out on the football pitch. They hate my subject and they are not too keen on me either since I am the one making them study it.

And now I have to write a report with a positive comment for each of my students. It’s going to take up a lot of my blogging time!

Here is an excellent article explaining why my job is so hard.

 

 

 

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Six Interesting Facts about my Dad, Peter Currell Brown.

I am staying with my dad this weekend because he’s just come out of hospital after a hip replacement operation and I’m doing a few jobs for him that he can’t do for himself at the moment, so I thought that I would use the opportunity to blog about him. Here are some fact about his life.P1090204

  1. He was born in Colchester, Essex in 1936.
  2. He left school with no qualifications and went to work in a factory.
  3. He left home in a 16 foot kayak that he made himself and went to live on a commune in South Wales.
  4. His experiences of factory work was the inspiration behind his cult Kafkaesque novel Smallcreep’s Day, which later inspired Mike Rutherford to write his album of the same name.
  5. He spent many years working as a self-employed potter in Gloucestershire and was well known in pottery circles for his puzzle jugs and frog mugs.
  6. He now works as a professional re-enactor, travelling to schools and museums doing living history. His speciality is alchemy and he has appeared on TV shows such as the BBC documentary Tudor Monastery Farm .
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One of his Puzzle Jugs

 

 

 

Seven Things I Have Learned from NaBloPoMo

November is drawing to a close which means that I will soon have completed the challenge I set myself of posting one blog post every day for National Blog Posting Month. It has been an exciting challenge that has taught me a few things.

  1. I love a challenge. Well I guess I already knew this as I often set myself challenges – a month without added sugar, the plank challenge (which I failed as I couldn’t make it past about 2 minutes without sticking my bottom up in the air), NaNoWriMo to name but a few. I get a great sense of achievement from completing challenges. And it’s been nice looking at my stats and seeing new followers and increased views.
  2. A challenge shared is more likely to be achieved. I have been posting my blog posts daily on facebook and twitter, and reading other bloggers’ posts on twitter with the hashtag #nablopomo. Sharing the challenge with others makes me more accountable so I am more likely to stick to it than if I kept it to myself.
  3. How Little Free Time I Have. I come home from work in the evenings and spend time with my kids until they go to bed. I switch off their light at about nine o’clock. Then there are all those little jobs that need doing – loading the dishwasher, making packed lunches, washing clothes, ironing clothes, sorting clothes. I like to watch the ten o’clock news, and at some point I have to go to bed. It’s not easy to fit in a blog post every single day.
  4. How much of that time I waste. Considering I have so little time, it’s surprising how much of it I manage to waste on unproductive things like reading pointless stuff on the Internet, or just sitting on the sofa trying to summon up the motivation to get up and do something.
  5. I can find time if I want to. Since I have managed to write a blog post a day, it means that I can find time to do the things that are important to me. Sometimes I manage to stop myself from wasting time, sometimes I multi-task, and sometimes I just don’t get as much sleep as I’d like to.
  6. It’s OK to let people read what I write. I have done NaNoWriMo a few times but I’ve never shown my novels to anyone. But a blog is a public thing. So I have been forced to allow people into my thoughts and to let them read my imperfect writing. And it’s OK.
  7. It’s OK to rush things sometimes. Right now I really want to go to bed. So this post will be rushed and I won’t have time to edit every word. It won’t be perfectly polished. But that’s OK.

The month is not over yet but the end is in sight.

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Fifteen Cute Photos of Kittens

We have a cat called Custard. She has been neutered now but she had a few litters of kittens before we had her spayed. It was lovely for the boys to watch kittens being born and learn how to look after them. Here are some of the cutest photos of Custard’s kittens.

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Two-headed kitten!
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It’s a hard life when you’re feeding a toddler. been there, done that.
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Where’s all the food gone?
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More toddler feeding
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tabby cuddles
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Hugs!
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This was Custard’s last kitten. The boys called him Ninja and they were so sad when he left.
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Good morning!
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Sleeping on his back.
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Tabby brothers
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My son looking very cute with a kitten
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So cute!
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Tiny babies
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Cuddles
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Kitler!

 

 

Seven Toys I WON’T be Buying for my Children this Christmas

It’s November and the toy manufacturers are vying for our money. There are so many advertisements on the television for all kinds of games and toys and this year there seems to be some kind of competition for the most disgusting toys. When I watch the adverts I can’t help wondering who thought up these ideas for toys that are so different from the Etch-a-sketch and Spirograph of my own childhood. Here are some toys I will not be buying this Christmas.

  1. Doggie Doo.  “The hilarious Doggie Doo action game! Feed the dog, throw the dice and take turns to pump the lead. If he poops on your turn, scoop the poop and it’s the first to three poops wins!” Yes, it’s a game about dog poo. Why would anyone want to play a game about dog poo? I don’t even want to think about what the poo is made of and what it looks (or smells) like.
  2.  Gooey Louie. “Take it in turns to stick your finger up poor Louie’s nose and pull out many stretch gooeys, eurgh! Be careful if you pull out the wrong gooey then his eyes will bulge and his brain will explode!” Oh, what joy – a game about bogeys! Why? Just why?
  3. Seagull Splat. “Seagull is flying happily around?. Splat! What is falling on the beach?” Oh great, another game about animal poo. Apparently it comes with “seagull foam solution”. Sounds delightful.
  4. Og on the Bog. “Og the Ogre has retired to his outhouse toilet and players must carefully steal his loo rolls to win! Trigger a noise and if he farts, you lift a loo roll or if he shouts, your turn is over. But if the toilet explodes, you lose all your loo rolls and have to start again!” No, there will be no exploding toilets in my house this Christmas.
  5. Gross Magic. Everybody loves magic tricks, don’t they? What could possibly be objectionable about a box of magic tricks? “Pull brown slimy poo from an empty toilet, clean a snotty rag with the flick of a wrist or magically fill an empty dustbin with rubbish.” OK so this one is off the Christmas list too.
  6. Pig Goes Pop. “Feed burgers to the pig and watch his tummy grow until he pops. His arms snap out and his jacket flies open!” OK so this game is all about force feeding a pig with burgers until he explodes from over-eating. What kind of relationship with food will my kids grow up with if they spend their childhood playing Pig Goes Pop?
  7. Pie Face. “Just put whipped cream or a wet sponge on the hand of the game unit and turn the handles. It could go off at any time, so keep your fingers crossed it’s not you.” Oh, what fun! You get to humiliate yourself and get whipped cream all over the living room! This game also comes with the warning: “Only for domestic use.” What does that mean? What other use would you use it for? Industrial use? Office use?

I might moan when my children just want electronic games for Christmas but at least they have not asked for any of the above. I’d rather get them a Wii than a game about poo.

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Seven Reasons Why Dropping Bombs on Syria Would Be a Bad Thing

David Cameron wants to drop bombs on Syria. I think this would be a bad thing. Here’s why.

  1. Innocent civilians live there and they would be blown up. Blowing up innocent civilians is a bad thing to do, as everyone agreed after the Paris attacks. Or is the life of an innocent Syrian worth less than the life of an innocent Parisian?
  2. Lots of countries are already bombing Syria, and it hasn’t stopped ISIS yet. How would one more country joining in make it any more effective?
  3. More bombs on Syria would mean more refugees. We already have a lot of refugees coming to Europe from Syria. Most people would probably agree that more refugees would be a bad thing. Some people think that the refugee crisis helped the terrorists to come from Syria to Europe. More terrorists coming to Europe from Syria would be a bad thing.
  4. Trying to kill terrorists with bombs is going to make the terrorists want to blow us up. Being blown up by terrorists is a bad thing.
  5. Bombs cost rather a lot of money. According to the British government, we don’t have enough money for everyone in Britain to have a decent standard of living. Benefits are being cut and a lot of people are relying on food banks to feed their children. If we don’t have enough money to keep all the people in our country alive, how can we afford to kill people? Surely keeping people alive is a higher priority than killing people?
  6. Blowing people up does not defeat a society. It makes the society more determined to stay strong and not to be defeated. This was proved by the Paris attacks. Making ISIS stronger and more determined would be a bad thing.
  7. Part of the reason why we have ISIS terrorists is because we dropped bombs on Iraq. So dropping bombs on another country is going to make the situation worse, not better. This would be a bad thing.

As far as I can see, the only people who would benefit from Britain dropping bombs on Syria are people who manufacture bombs. So I guess those people must be friends of David Cameron.

Ten Things from Aldi that I Love

I was so pleased when a new Aldi opened recently near my house. I love Aldi because it is such good value and the food is good quality too. Although you don’t find as much selection as the bigger supermarkets, you do find some interesting continental items that you might not see at all in other shops. And who needs a whole aisle of shampoo anyway? Here are some of my favourite things from Aldi.

P10901891. This Solesta Extra Virgin Olive  is just as good as any branded extra virgin olive oil, in my opinion, and a fraction of the price. I can afford to slosh it about generously without worrying about the cost.

 

P10901882. I am the only member of the family who drinks alcohol, and I only tend to have a glass at weekends. This bottle of Merlot contains just 18.7cl which is the perfect quantity to drink alone. It’s a lovely Merlot too – perfect to drink with a meal or just on its own.

 

P1090187.JPG3. These thick ridged crisps are lovely. I like ridged crisps, and they have just the right amount of flavour. They are excellent value.

 

P10901854. Is it a biscuit? Is it a chocolate? These chocolate biscuits have got the ratio just right between biscuit and chocolate.

 

P10901845. Everyone in he family loves these onion and chive puff pastry twists. They are like posh cheese straws.

 

P10901866. These strawberry fruit bars are perfect for packed lunches or a snack for play time. I don’t eat them myself but the kids love them.

 

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7. This stuff is great sprinkled on breakfast cereal or yoghurt for a bit of extra omega 3 which is always a good idea as I don’t eat fish.

 

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8. This chocolate is fabulous! All the Moser Roth chocolates in Aldi are amazing but this is my favourite. Really good quality dark chocolate with little bits of crystallised ginger. And it is divided into mini bars so there is less temptation to eat the whole lot (although the temptation is still there!)

 

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9. I love this peppermint and liquorice tea. It’s so tasty and luxurious that you can’t quite believe it has practically no calories.

 

P109017710. You have to have a crate of clementines in the house at Christmas time! These are sweet and juicy and delicious.

What are your favourite things from Aldi? Let me know in the comments.

 

Four Signs That You May Have Prosopagnosia

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I had never heard of prosopagnosia, or face blindness, until about 10 years ago. It was being discussed on a chat show on TV and as the discussion progressed, all sorts of little things fell into place for me and I realised that I wasn’t just inattentive or not very observant.

People who suffer from prosopagnosia find it hard to recognise people’s faces. There are varying degrees of face blindness; some people even have difficulty recognising their own loved ones. I once saw a photo of my son, dressed as a sheep, in his school nativity play. he was with a few other children all dressed the same, and his costume covered his hair so all I could see was his face. It took me a while to figure out which sheep was my son, and even when I had identified him, I couldn’t be 100% sure that it was him. As you can imagine, prosopagnosia can cause a lot of problems in social situations and at work, and can lead to embarrassment and distress.

If you can say yes to most of the following signs, you may have prosopagnosia.

  1. You find it hard to recognise people that you know, especially if you see them in a different context.
  2. You find it difficult to follow films or TV shows because you get the characters muddled up.
  3. You have a poor sense of direction.
  4. If you are talking to someone and they leave the room and then come in again, you are unsure whether it is the same person or not.

I have always found it quite hard to make friends. I have to know someone for quite a long time before I become friends with them. When I heard about prosopagnosia I thought this might explain why. When my children were little I used to go to toddler groups. All the other mums seemed to get to know each other very quickly but I struggled. If a mum walked into the room, I couldn’t be sure if I had met her before or not. I might have a very friendly conversation with someone, but I would completely forget who I had been talking to by the next week, or sometimes by the next moment. One time, I was talking to a mum at a toddler group, and then later I tried to continue the conversation. It was only when she looked at me blankly that I noticed the woman I had talked to earlier over the other side of the hall. This was a completely different person.

I always have to concentrate very hard when watching a film or I get completely lost. This is because if there are two similar looking characters in the film, I won’t be able to tell which is which. They don’t even have to be very similar – two men with short dark hair look the same to me if I don’t know them well.

Imagine you saw a black cat in the street, and then later you saw another black cat. You probably wouldn’t be sure if they were two different cats or if you had seen the same cat twice. If you saw both cats together and you looked closely you would probably notice that one had bigger ears, or the other one had a wider face, but if you saw them individually they would just look like any other black cat. For me it’s the same with humans. Two women in their twenties with long blond hair look the same to me. If I saw them together I would notice differences between them, but then if I met one of them later I wouldn’t know which one it was.

This can cause problems in my job. I teach in a college, and most of my students are studying sport. I might have a class of fifteen footballers who I only meet once or twice a week. They are all the same age, they all have similar hair cuts and builds, and they are almost all white males. They usually wear identical college polo shirts. Consequently it takes me a long time to remember their names and I am constantly calling them by the wrong name. Before I found out about face blindness, I used to feel very bad about this and I wondered how other teachers could learn their students’ names with relative ease while it was so difficult for me.

People who suffer from prosopagnosia often have a very poor sense of direction, although it is not understood why. I am very good at reading maps but if I am without a map or a sat nav it is almost impossible for me to find my way around an unfamiliar place. If I turn a corner I have no idea which direction I am facing. If I walk into a room in a building, especially if the route involves stairs or corridors, I will find it very difficult to make my way back to the entrance of the building again.

Face blindness can run in families and I do wonder whether my eight-year-old may have inherited it from me. Children often wave to him in the street and call out his name, but when I ask him who they are he can never tell me their names. His teacher last year told me that she had noticed that he didn’t know the names of the other children in his class, even towards the end of the summer term. If she asked him to sit next to a certain child he wouldn’t know where to sit. This seems to be making it difficult for him to form friendships, just as it does for me, and I worry about how he will manage in later life.

Recent research suggests that as many as 2 – 2.5% of the population may have this condition, and many are unaware, as I was, believing themselves to be forgetful or absent-minded.

To find out more about face blindness, visit the prosopagnosia research website.

 

Ten Questions about your Television Viewing Habits

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I was celebrating a friend’s birthday earlier this evening with a group of friends. As we sat around her dining room table tucking into pizza, we got onto the subject of television viewing habits and how our habits differ, and what that might say about us. We decided that we probably were not representative of Britain’s TV viewing public, and we wondered whether viewing habits are to do with a person’s age, background, social class, or something else. Here are some of the questions we discussed. Please do give your answers in the comments, and let me know what you think your answers say about you. It will be as if you are joining in our conversation around the dining room table, and sharing our pizza!

  1. Do you have the television on most of the time regardless of what is on, or do you just switch it on to watch specific programmes and then switch it off again?
  2. Do you watch television every day?
  3. Do you watch soaps?
  4. Do you watch daytime TV or just in the evening?
  5. Do you generally watch TV shows as they are broadcast, or do you watch them afterwards on BBC iplayer etc?
  6. If you watch TV shows as they are broadcast, do you tweet about them or read what others are tweeting?
  7. If you watch programmes after they have been broadcast, do you prefer to do so on the television or on a computer?
  8. Have you ever phoned up to vote on a show such as X Factor?
  9. Have you ever applied to participate in a show?
  10. Do you have a television in your bedroom?

 

Ten Dresses that I Love

I never used to wear dresses. I didn’t like the way they looked when stretched over my lumps and bumps. Then a few years ago I lost about three stone in weight and now I love wearing dresses as they hang properly on me and look and feel great. Since then I have bought rather a lot of dresses. I always buy them when they are ain the sale – preferably at least 75% off! I am a very successful bargain hunter. Here are some of my favourites. Which one do you like best?

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This is an old dress that I’ve had for years and years. I bought it with my first pay check from my first job. It’s from Laura Ashley. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever owned.

 

2.

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This is my most recent purchase. A branch of Fat Face recently opened at my local outlet centre and I couldn’t resist buying this. It is beautiful.

 

3.

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This one is from White Stuff. I bought it at my local outlet centre. I love the colour and the design that looks abstract at first but when you look more closely you see that it is in fact lots of flamingos.

 

4.

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This dress is from East which is normally out of my price range but every so often they have a sale with some big discounts. It looks a bit shapeless on the hanger but it has a draw string waist and looks really good on.

 

5.

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I bought this dress for my summer holiday. Most maxi dresses seem to have little straps. I don’t like strappy dresses as I don’t like having my bra straps on show, and I’m too big to go braless, so when I found this dress in a sale in Dickens and Jones I bought it in green, blue and in pink.

 

6.

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I found this dress in Marks and Spencer shortly before Christmas a couple of years ago and I thought it was perfect for Christmas parties. I like it because it’s very bright, and it has two different types of fabric. The top part is cotton jersey while the skirt is crepe.

 

7.

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Everybody needs a little black dress and this one is from Marks and Spencer. I like the little lacy inserts.

 

8.

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I love this dress! It’s so flattering if you have an hourglass figure because it emphasises your slim waist and the curve of your hips. It is from Joe Browns.

 

9.

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I love jumper dresses! They are so snuggly with a pair of woolly tights. This one is from Weird Fish.

 

10.

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Another recent purchase, this one is from Mantaray at Debenhams. Mantaray is one of my favourite labels. It is so pretty and comfy that I went out and bought it in the blue too. It was half price and it might still be on offer if you hurry.