120 film and all that jazz

2007-03-04 at 14:11 (notes, photography)

a Holga 120N

So, on a photography-related slant, I’ve just bought five rolls of 120 film for my new Holga. Here they are, in all their glory:

Expect notes (and hopefully photos) on how they compare. This is my first adventure into non-DSLR territory, so I don’t really know what I’m talking about yet, but hopefully I will soon…

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Ephemeral

2007-01-11 at 19:08 (bestof, creation, managing, musings, notes, time, uncategorised, wardrobe)

I have this problem of managing all the things I create or buy.

Once upon a time, I was a real hoarder — the mantra was “never throw anything away, never let an idea go”. I realised that I ran the risk of keeping too much stuff and not having the room for it all.

These days, I like keeping the number of clothes I own on the low side, because it makes it much easier to decide what to wear on a given day. At any given time, my wardrobe is like a “best of” of all the clothes I’ve ever owned. If I get something new and I don’t like it as much as something that’s old, then it tends to find its way to the charity shop quicker.

When you have eighty-five pieces of poetry, it’s like having a cluttered wardrobe. There’s some stuff that you really like, some that you don’t like much, some stuff that you used to like now but wonder what you were thinking, and so on. So, with clothes, I try keep only things that I really like by doing a periodic cull. But when it comes to art (whether photos or poetry), I just don’t feel right getting rid of it. It’s stronger than that, actually: it feels wrong. On the other hand, I also feel like some of it just cruft cluttering up the world.

I have no idea why this is the case. Do I worry too much about keeping a record of the past? Would I really be losing anything if I went back and clicked “delete” on old poetry which doesn’t mean anything to me anymore? On some level, is deleting old poetry or unfinished ideas which will never be finished the same to me as deleting my past or my potential in the future?

I’m considering putting together “best of” categories which link the poems thematically or chronologically together, but even if I do that, there’s still that feeling of some of it just being cruft that might as well get chucked out. I wonder if I’ll ever find a solution.

(I’ve been meaning to make this a real blog for a while. That means linking to other sites, writing regularly, acquiring regular readers, possibly using a spellchecker, and perhaps posting more than just poetry. This post represents the beginning of trying that, though I’m aware I’ve done none of the above except the last one yet.)

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tech: one thing for a better commenting system

2006-12-27 at 13:24 (lists, musings, notes, uncategorised)

A “Thanks” button that records thanks when people don’t have anything else to say in a comment.

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how to learn, relearn, and revise for exams

2006-04-24 at 23:46 (in-progress, musings, notes)

  1. Get an overview of everything you need to know for the exam, and nothing more (if you’re with an examination board, at least in the UK, the examination board should have a specification for your subject online, listing this).

  2. Get a book which covers the entire topic, and possibly any other related material. Read it through as if it’s a light girlie novel. Find any other, related, interesting and hopefully not too dry books which take your fancy and read them too, as if they’re light girlie novels. Don’t worry about learning anything, or memorising, but think more about trying to understand. (In some subjects, this is more important than others. Physics, for example, understanding is more important than the other two.)

  3. Leave that subject alone for a week or so. This lets your subconscious brain figure things out, arrange, rearrange, change the furniture, the tiles and maybe get some new lights fitted. Basically, you’re letting yourself forget most of the detail. Don’t worry about the subject at all during this week. Rest at ease, knowing you can leave it alone.

  4. Now you get out your specification, textbook, any course notes, revision guidelets or worksheets or anything that you have related to the subject, really.

  5. Get your course overview/specification, and split it up into useful chunks. Topics and subtopics kind of thing. Keep this on paper somewhere fairly close by; it gives you an important guide to progress.

  6. Get some little bits of paper/card to write on. Go through each subtopic on your list and write the bare essentials on these cards, using your textbook/other reference materials to figure it out. One subtopic per card only, and preferably in big writing. Keep as little as possible in each one, and use the simplest possible words.

  7. Leave to simmer for one week.

  8. Read through your cards. As you do this, get another set of (empty) cards and write things out again, except this time simpler and bigger. This is the final set of notes; you’ve done most of the work now. Relax for a bit.

  9. Read through these sets regularly, comparing with textbooks, adding memory aids, etc. as neccessay. By this, you’ve probably got an understanding of most of the material, and you’ve probably learnt and memorised quite a bit without actually trying. Now is the time to attack the bits you don’t grasp so easily and use more aggressive techniques on them.

Yeah, this is quite a lazy way of doing things. It relies on the idea of forgetting three times before you remember things (semi-)permanently, and relying on your natural ability to learn and memorise (which are different) with repetition, and to gain a better understanding whilst learning. While doing your card notes, you should probably employ mnemonics where useful, and silly drawings to grab your attention, or over-the-top language to achieve a similar result. Don’t try to consciously memorise, though, because that builds up stress when you can’t recall straight away.

If you can set aside distraction-free chunks of time, this is a fairly efficient way to learn, too. You can memorise multiple subjects at once by doing them in the gaps between the others. This way you might be utilitising your subconscious mind better, but it’s still a good idea to leave in some breaks.

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on learning

2006-03-22 at 22:00 (notes)

Basics

  • understanding is more important than learning. trying to learn something that you don’t understand is like trying to do a jigsaw without having the big picture there to follow. understanding is the big picture, learning are the little pieces.
  • keep it simple. it’s more important to know all the major points than it is to know everything in detail
  • put effort into learning even simple things. if you forget a simple thing that you have built knowledge on, that knowledge is lost.
  • stick to the minimum information principle: learn things in their simplest and shortest form, and not in any other. you want your brain to remember things in the same way every time.
  • keep track of sources when learning. this is useful for when you need to review your notes and knowledge, or to provide context.
  • refer to other memories, perhaps personal ones, when learning. if you can associate an idea with something you know, this enhances recall. use examples — “like the one at my parents'”

Specifics

  • don’t try to learn unordered lists of items. the minimum information principle says this: if you learn an unordered list, your brain isn’t doing the same thing every time you want to remember it. you might remember as “apple, pear” one time and “pear, apple” another.
  • learn ordered lists by using cloze deletion. cloze is that thing you did in primary school: removing a word, or a phrase, from a sentence and then filling in the blank. useful for poetry
  • use mnemonics for sequences of items: this compacts an ordered list into one item, provided it’s memorable enough.
  • when learning a foreign language, keep swapped word pairs: this helps build memory in both directions. don’t just remember “bord a la mer” as “near the sea”, remember “near the sea” as “bord a la mer”.

Source: supermemo.com, own experience.

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on sleep

2006-03-05 at 16:47 (notes)

  • go to sleep when sleepy, and not any other time
  • wake up, with an alarm clock, at the same time every day, including weekends. you get into a solid pattern, and that helps reinforce it.
  • when woken, get up NOW, not in a minute. the more thinking time you give yourself, the less likely you are to get up.
  • avoid eating or drinking for a few hours before sleep: this tends to wake you up and causes your digestive system to go into real work mode
  • avoid listening to audio programmes in bed: sleep seems to be less restful if this happens, and I seem to wake up a lot more in the night
  • decent amounts of exercise every day
  • when in bed, don’t think about sleep, and don’t worry about getting to sleep early/late and how it will affect you tomorrow.

Sources: Wikipedia, Steve Pavlina, supermemo.com, own experience.

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