ED209 – Weeks 24, 25 and 26

I succumbed. I took books 3 and 4 on holiday with me to Portugal over the past two weeks but I’m glad I did. It’s enabled me to get back on schedule as I’ve now just about completed weeks 24-26 as well as going back and finishing week 20 from late June on brain and cognitive development.

It’s just the stuff from the methods book and media kit I need to work through this week … so by the end of it I should be back on track, with the bonus of having identified the chapter I’m going to do for the seen question from book 4. I’ll be taking the legal option, as it ties in nicely with the work on lies and truth from (the old) DSE212 and I wasn’t really that taken by any of the other alternatives.

I didn’t take my laptop with me though (too heavy, and the rest of the family wanted to take beauty products in the meagre luggage allowance granted by bmibaby), so my notes are currently all in indecipherable longhand.

I’ve therefore  spent today transcribing my notes for chapters six, seven and eight into something I stand a chance of being able to revise from! I’ve not quite finished this process for chapter three, so I’ll get around to it over the coming week. I’m too tired to concentrate properly now, and a glass of wine is calling me …

Holiday websites

Not websites about holidays. Just ones that make me smile, seeing as I’m definitely in the holiday mood at the moment …

1. Fail blog. Sometimes a bit hit and miss (in fact, usually more miss than hit if I’m honest), but the gems are worth searching out.

2. Millennium Elephant. A fluffy toy who talks far more sense than most politicians. Also lives with a daddy who has a Dr. Who fixation (sigh).

3. Private Eye. Not as funny as it used to be. Or was that Punch?

4. Backmasking. I was introduced to this by one of the tutors who ran the DXR222 summer school at Bath University last year. It’s amazing what the addition of information does to your perceptions  (in the form of the lyrics that are supposed to be revealed when a song is played backwards). I now can’t listen to ‘another one bites the dust’ without thinking about this site!

5. The Onion. Transatlantic weirdness.

Holiday music

Following on from the books I’m taking on holiday, these are the albums on my mp3 player, which as it’s old has very limited space!

1. Howlin’ Wind – Graham Parker

2. King of America – Elvis Costello

3. The Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd

4. The Flat Earth – Thomas Dolby

5. Unknown Pleasures – Joy Division

6. Travelogue – The Human League

7. Autobahn – Kraftwerk

8. Rattle and Hum – U2

9. Black Sea – XTC

10. Just a Minute: The Best of 2006 – Nicholas Parsons et al.

Holiday reading

A list of books for this year’s holiday:

1. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick

2. The Siege of Krishnapur, J. G. Farrell

3. God and Stephen Hawking, Robin Hawdon

4. The Damned Utd, David Peace

5. Something that I pick up from the airport bookshop

6. … and of course, Cognitive and Language Development in Children, edited by our favourite psychologists, John Oates and Andrew Grayson

ED209 – Week 24 and fantasy ED239

I can’t believe how much material there is for this week. Two chapters of book 3 to read  (albeit shorter ones than normal), a section of the methods and skills handbook to tackle plus two DVD bands to watch. I’m coming more and more to the conclusion that ED209 requires the same type of surgery that DSE212 had done to it the year after I’d taken it. I think the surgery required should be to split book 4 off into a separate course of its own (let’s call it ED239 for the sake of argument), drop the ‘seen’ question from book 4 and turn it into a couple of TMAs and/or an ECA for ED239. The revised ED209 would be the first three books with an examination of three unseen questions, one from each book.

Apart from anything else, I think it’s a shame that I’m likely only ever to read a single chapter from book 4 (this used to happen on the old DSE212 as well) and that feels like a waste. Yes, I know I could read the other four chapters later, but I can’t see that happening anytime soon as I have a life outside of OU study too!

DSE212/DSE232 sets a precedent that ED209 ought to follow. Soon.

Once the examination is out of the way in October, I will be writing to the course team to suggest this (along with other comments I have on the course).

<soapbox> I’d like to encourage fellow ED209 students to do the same, regardless of whether they agree with my views or not. Constructive feedback has to be useful to the course team and as I suspect many of us are likely to be paying much more for OU courses in the future because of the government’s withdrawl of funding for ELQs, we need to make our voices heard. </soapbox>

Anyway, I’ve finished chapter 5 this weekend and I’m hoping to tackle chapter 6 this week, as well as rewriting a part of my TMA05 essay. I’ve just noticed I’ve missed some evidence out on developmental disorders that I think I should have included to strengthen one of my points.

Relief at finishing TMA05

I’m glad that’s over.

I’ve just finished TMA05 and I now need to re-assess what is rapidly becoming the wreckage of my study timetable. I still haven’t done week 20 (from book 3, chapter 3 on brain and cognitive development) and I’ve got a couple of weeks away on holiday soon. I really don’t want to have to take my books with me, but I think I might need to to ensure I’m in a position to do TMA06 on time at the end of August and be able to spend enough time on book 4 (which I still haven’t opened), figuring out my response to the seen question for the examination.

This is annoying, as I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read in book 3 and I want to maximise my chances of answering a question from it on the exam. Still, with any luck, the focus won’t be on any of the chapters covered in this TMA, so I might get away with not doing chapter 3 at all. As it’s about the brain and there are lots of diagrams, I feel queasy every time I start reading bits from it, so it’s a very tempting thought!

I’m going to hang on to my finished TMA for a couple more days before submitting it, just in case I get some more inspiration. I also find that it helps to put it away for a few days and then read it again before hitting the send button – I always seem to pick up one or two small problems if I do look at it again just before I send it.

Lots of discussions on the ED209 OU forums at the moment as to what gorping a bunny might involve – I’m still laughing!

I’ve also found a new way of procrastinating – writing poetry to celebrate the OU’s 40th birthday. Here’s the officially commissioned poem (from a real poet, and so far too worthy for me to appreciate) and here’s mine, in the style of E.J. Thribb from Private Eye.

So, Happy 40th Birthday then OU.
I think even if
You are around for another 40 years
I still won’t have finished
Reading all the stuff
I need to
for ED209.

Keith’s mum said
Maybe I should consider
Astrophysics instead.

Car woes

I drive a lot. Probably around 25,000 miles a year and in the days I worked from offices in Manchester it was closer to 35,000 miles a year. Since 1998, I’ve relied on three different VW Passats to get me to where I want to go. I need a car that works. Reliably. All of the time. Those of you that read my ramblings on a regular basis will know that I’m just about (well, on 1st September) to give up all of this supposedly solid German engineering for a flighty, Italian, impractical but gorgeous Alfa MiTo.

However, this last Passat that I have owned since 2004 has been anything but solid. It’s let me down, far, far too much, which was part of my rationale in deciding not to have a mid-life crisis with a Golf GTI (the other car I seriously considered this time around). I figured if I wasn’t going to get reliability from a VW, I might as well buy an Alfa. Look, I know that last statement is not even half logical, but I am sooooo disappointed with this lemon of a VW that I’ve been driving for the past 5 years that it’s sent me a little bit strange. That and studying ED209 this year.

This afternoon, the ESP warning light came on. That’s the Electronic Stability Programme rather than Extra Sensory Perception, though I’m convinced old Herman Fluffy Felix knows his time is nearly up (Herman was the name of my second Passat, d’oh!). Five minutes later, the glow plug warning lights start flashing with an ominous sounding Engine Workshop! message appearing on the display. I’m on holiday tomorrow (that car just *knows* when to be a pain) and it looks as if I’ll be spending at least part of my day off at the local VW dealer.

Fortunately, the wonders of the interweb means that I know what the problem is and that it should be a quick fix. This is beacuse my brake lights aren’t working as well. This indicates, according to other VW owners, that the problem is simply a broken switch which should only take a few minutes (and large quantities of money) to sort out.

Only 50 days to go until Alfa day … it can’t come soon enough.

Update 15/07/2009: Fluffy Felix is all better now and at a bargain price of £19.99. Now, if he can just limp through without major expense for another month or so that would be perfect.

Gadget men

I’m sat on the 0603 train from Derby to London. I managed to finish my preparation for this morning’s meeting just as the train pulled into Kettering at 7. I was looking forward to dozing off for the remainder of the journey. Some hope. Gadget man and his friend came and sat at the same table and proceeded to talk solidly and loudly about pc’s, macs, bose sound systems, plasma tv’s and the like endlessly. I know I’m a technologist, but I hope I’m never quite as irritating and boring as this pair … Grrr.

TMA05 – it's the thinking that takes the time … I think!

Yesterday, following on from my tutorial on Saturday morning, I spent quite a lot of time thinking about how to approach TMA05 and not really making very much progress in getting it written. It’s definitely going to be option 2, I do know how I want to write the essay and the content I want to put into it, but it’s getting down to the actual writing of it that’s the problem at the moment. Every time I start to commit my initial thoughts into words, I seem to have to go through yet more rounds of thinking before I can write the next few hundred words.

Looking back at my previous essays on this course and on DSE212, I seem to write around 5 or 6 drafts before I make final tweaks and decide to send it in. I resolve every time to write just a couple of drafts – and every time I fail!

I’ve noticed this at work too. Any documents I produce (particularly if they’re for a client) seem to go through the same process. I spend ages thinking about what should be in them, make a couple of tentative starts, think through it all again and then finally, after a few attempts get something I’m happy with.

Maybe I really do have a problem with procrastination – but then again, it can’t be so bad as I do manage to get things finished on time, most of the time. But I can’t help wonder how effective I might be if I didn’t have to go through this ritual every time I try to write something. Or is it the ritual that makes me effective in the first place?

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