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I will close this post here now and start a new one. It has become a little long and was beginning to lose its organizational benefit.
This post started in April 2020 after we had begun to go online and I was beginning to get the hang of things. In earlier posts, starting in March, I kind of documented the process of turning from total resistance – ONLINE classes, NEVER – to actually coming to enjoy my online meetings.
There have been many texts, articles, books even, on reflecting what the pandemic situation has meant to various people, in different contexts, for work, private life etc. This will probably remain a topic for the months to come. We are still in the ‘corona situation’ and nobody really knows when things will change, how they will change, what we will be going back to, if we will be going back to and so on and so on. Despite all the challenges and tragedies involved, it is also an interesting time with a lot of chances for changing things to the better and further improving those things that are already good or going in the right direction.
I personally do hope we will look back and see this time as having been a chance that we took and not one we squandered.
Introduction (written in April)
The big advantage of online meeting programs, like Webex, Teams, Starleaf etc. is the ability to share files. When you are only using the phone, you can just have your computer running in the background and go to web pages together if there is anything online you would like to look at or read together. We did something similar in a little private group when we played cards together online. We had a Teams meeting running for face-to-face contact and played the card game via an app on our smart phones. It was unexpectedly enjoyable. (And the cards didn’t become greasy.)
For the purpose of sharing things with my groups, I am using my blog as a tool, listing those pages I would like to share so that I have them all in one place. I will not add those pages or links I have already set up in earlier posts like for instance Working from Home in my post on home office.
Update November 3: In the mean time, Teams meetings are working out pretty well. I had some severe connection problems a few weeks ago. It took a while to figure out the reasons and we still believe it was (or were?) various things. I bought a new computer, a tower (haven’t done that in ages) and had my internet connection changed to a higher speed, which, of course, included a better, more powerful router.
When the connection is good and communication and sharing work just fine, I find the experience quite satisfactory. I hope my course participants do too.
Some Christmas sporcles
Another pictogram quiz 16 Little Christmas Pictograms
Can you name the Christmas movies? Christmas film scenes quiz
Can you name the 24 Things associated with an American Christmas
And some more Christmas food from different countries
Last week we started talking about clutter, decluttering, collecting etc. It seems that, being stuck at home for such a long time, people have devoted more thoughts and actions to cleaning, redecorating, renovating and decluttering their homes. There are quite a few web pages related to the topic like www.minimalism.com, but also some TED talks, one of which I linked here: Getting rid of 1000 things | Liz Wright | TEDxBedford. In connection with this, a little Quiz on different English accents. I think this one is better. And, to round things off, the beginning of a Happy New Year episode on youtube of the Vicar of Dibley. Emma Chambers (Alice in the show) speaks similarly to Liz Wright.
Today there is a lot of coverage of the Very Different Thanksgiving this year in the New York Times;
For us here in Germany, a reminder of how bad things could be if government behaved utterly irresponsible.
This week I will do some Thanksgiving related stuff. The New York Times had a wonderful feature a few years ago – little videos and texts – of different families and their respective Thanksgiving food traditions. It shows the many different ethnic backgrounds that influence what each family cooks, demonstrating the dual celebration of emigrant family history and ‘American’ identity. Each family added something special to their feast that reflects aspects of their heritage.
I might throw in some sporcles like this one on traditional Thanksgiving food. And another on Thanksgiving trivia (some quiz questions relating to historical aspects connected to the holiday). And a third: Halloween or Thanksgiving
This year Thanksgiving in the US will stand under the impact of the corona virus pandemic. Families and friends are asked to refrain from bigger get togethers. And many families will be mourning and remembering those they lost to the virus this year.
The final result of the 2020 presidential election
Electoral maps of the past from the very beginning to 2016
Nation never wants to see red or blue again ever, ever again
Follow voting at the Washington Post
John Bolton on Trump’s early claim of victory long before all votes have been counted: “It’s a disgrace”.
Guardian article on Trump’s early claim
And see more a little down the page
Halloween Halloween Sporcle costums pictograms (a little challenging) And another one 🙂 (Domino questions, some answers still need to be researched, but if you’re lucky and answer enough, you can still ‘win’) And some more Halloween related things (Halloween images)
New article that caught my attention this morning, September 21
Every Monday morning, since school at the elementary school in our village has restarted, they play a little selection of songs. My office is adjacent to the playground so I can listen in. I thought of going down and join in whatever it is they are doing, but….
While listening this morning, I opened my laptop and found 25 Things Only Parents in the 1990s Remember. I will have to start calculating, but I know for sure that I have some parents, who had kids in the 90ies. Their kids would be in their late 20ies, so I could have some of them too in classes. This could turn out to be an interesting topic. I’ll see.
Two weeks ago, my friend and I bought an e-bike together. Only one, as I wanted it for occasional trips to work, which will not happen every morning (not in rain, ice and snow), and for her when we are on tours together, as I am faster on my sports bikes (and she didn’t want a sports bike 😉
In connection with this, I was thinking, why do these pedelecs need to be recharged? Why can’t the energy that goes into the pedaling recharge them?
For an engineer, this question probably sounds naive, but I have a group of engineers I will ask. I have no problem admitting my ignorance – I’m not an engineer, and my physics lessons in school were rather erratic and – to say the least – dead boring. Which is a shame, there would have been so many interesting questions to explore. Like. e.g., how to construct a bicycle with an engine that is fuelled by muscle power.
For weeks, or months, you can read that bicycles have been sold out due to the corona situation. (Link to article in NEW YORK TIMES down below.) In France, they managed to go through with the Tour de France and in connection with this the author of what you find under the following link put together 25 slides about the history of the bike.
I put a little Bicycle Quiz together for my classes that relates to the information you find on the web site above:
- Do you remember your first bicycle?
- History of the bicycle: When was it invented? What was it first called? (slide 2)
- At the end of the 19th century, cycling was a wildly popular sport in which country? (slide 9)
- Which two famous brothers were hugely successful with their bike business at the time? (slide 6)
- Why do women’s bikes have no crossbar? (slide 11)
- What was the highest speed ever reached on a bicycle? Around 65, 120, 160 or 290 km/h (slide 12)
- How long is the longest bicycle race? (slide 13)
- Which country has more bicycles (per capita) than people? (slide 17)
- Which country has the most bicycles in absolut numbers? (slide 18)
- Which country is second? (slide 19)
- Where do 86% of this second country’s bikes come from?
- Where do all the old bikes go? (slide 21)
- How many Americans commute to work by bike? (slide 22) How many Germans? (Go to statista for statistics. I haven’t found the numbers yet.)
- When did the first e-bikes enter the market?
- Why is the pedalling energy not transferred to the motor or at least the battery? Or is it?
- What is recuperation? Or is it regeneration? https://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/uebersetzung/rekuperation.html
US Elections 2020
Electoral College scenarios (video 11 minutes)
Another electoral college map forecast with number of electors per state. This map is interactive and you can create your own prediction. Tipp: Go to video above first and then try your own forecast here. Play around and see what happens when crucial states are lost or won.
Washington Post The Electoral Map and each Candidates Road to Victory
Video on Utah’s Early Voting system embedded in WP article on when we will get the election results
A little fun quiz that reveals more about our stereotypes I guess than anything else: Can you guess Trump or Biden supporters by the contents of their fridges?
A little Ted Ed video on the Election System
A new Netflix: Explained mini series explains the US election system. It has three episodes that explain the history of the system, how it works, or doesn’t; voting districts and gerrymandering among other things. It is linked to the website vox.com on Voting Rights.
Washington Post article on how to protect US from next Trump
Added September 25
Rachel Maddow Show (MSCBN) Bernie Sanders on Trump’s attempt to disparage legitimacy of US election
Thomas Friedman on the same subject (interview with Anderson Cooper 360, CNN)
Rachel Maddow on that topic and the trending polls showing Biden constantly in the lead
The presidential campaigns are now in full swing and every four years the same questions come up, the topmost being How Does the Electoral College work and how can a candidate win without having the majority of all Americans’ votes.
Just for fun A new you tuber channel started this year June. Two young twins – Twinsthenewtrend – listen to old classics for the first time and let viewers participate in their first reactions. It’s great fun to see them appreciate stuff they never heard before from music of older generations. (Watch them listen to Dolly Parton’s Jolene for the first time.) It’s so refreshing to see the openness and respect they bring to each ‘new’ song. It’s so different from the dogmatism I have often observed in fans of certain genres in my generation.
Their ‘ignorance’ should remind us old timers (50plus) of how different the lives we lead across generations (and cultures) sometimes are or have been and how we sometimes forget that 20 +s just cannot know and do not share things older generations appreciated and experienced. Though it certainly goes in both directions: I often also feel totally in the dark when it come to music (and art, and films and….); there is so much out there to NOT know or be aware of. It’s great how the two are sharing this their new experience.
The coronavirus pandemic with all its consequences has led to an explosion of new words and phrases. Check out this article from the BBC for examples.
And here another page on ‘Coronaspeak‘; a list of words and phrases created or used more often or differently during these times
TIME100 talks on how to create a better world after Corona
See also article in Scientific American: Root Cause of Pandemics Nobody Seems to Talk about
Linguahouse has interesting stuff for teachers and students alike
Breaking news great resource for news related shorter lessons and loads of exercises
The best online escape room games This text from The Independent gives an overview of several games you can play online together in groups or alone. For those not familiar with the concept of Escape Rooms I would recommend starting with the easier ones e.g the first mentioned in the article, the ‘Hogwarts’ game. Don’t expect too much Potter imagery, but it’s a nice start with ‘real life’ references that give you some indications as to where J.K. Rowling got some of her ideas from. Another one I started playing with a group is ‘Cabin Fever’. Although I had hoped for a little more imagery, of the ship it plays on e.g., the puzzles are good; my group did get hooked and would like to continue next meeting.
My favorite so far is Mr X. This game does not fall into the category of escape rooms. You have to find out the identity of Mr X using the internet, especially google maps, and web sites of venues alluded to. In this it makes wonderful use of the internet: you have to walk around places using street view, check restaurant menues etc. The clues are quite challenging at times, but manageable. And a quite rewarding experience when you figure out the solutions.
Mr X had several references to Bill Bryson and I was curious as to why. Turns out Bill Bryson was the Chancellor at Durham University from 2005 to 2011, at the time when he lived in his rectory and wrote about the history of private life. Durham University has an interesting web page with articles on their COVID 19 research. The reason for Bill Bryson’s link to Durham is found in his 1995 book Notes from A Small Island, in which he writes about his chance visit to Durham and his subsequent surprise as to why nobody had ever told him about Durham, as he found it to be a most wonderful city.
SPORCLES Sporcle is a page that provides a huge collection of quizzes of all kinds. For my classes I like using those where language has to be linked to imagery. There are some very creative ideas on this site waiting to be discovered. You can add them to your classes at the end when some time left, or also use them as addition to a topic. This happened to me accidentally when I played the quiz where you have to identify the 50 US states. It took much longer than expected and we ended up talking a lot about the single states in between finding them. For this to happen, though, it is important to change the setting “timer” to “stopwatch”.
Plants and Flowers (in film titles) I went to this category after watching the video of the opening concert of the Barcelona Opera House after months of being closed due to corona. This is the greatest most fascinating concert I have ever seen 🙂
Health and Diet (7) Technical terms
Film sporcles The Shining Psycho Hitchcock movies match the year American Werewolf in London (very difficult) Complete the film titles Actors of Marvel movies Bad movie dads Star Wars pick the right movie scene Match images from same movies Movies that feature contagious diseases and outbreaks
(Not a sporcle quiz): The most popular Pandemic Movies
Household items by pictures
History Match the image with the event
US politics and history Senate or House
CORONA CRISIS specific pages
Current numbers for Germany, September 25
John Hopkins University Corona Map
I can highly recommend the Financial Times free to read corona virus coverage.
The FT’s corona tracking page has many graphs visualizing the pandemic’s development, comparing countries, analysing reasons for differences in numbers etc.
FT article on the fate of cruise ships
Talks to help you become a better researcher (A playlist; for IPH, but not only)
Here I have watched and discussed especially Eli Pariser’s talk on internet filter bubbles. Since the talk was already from 2011, there are some more recent follow up texts underneath, and we started reading one Thursday afternoon on video conference fatigue; what makes video conferences so tiring (we didn’t totally agree that they do)
Also noteworthy isTristan Harris’ talk on the dangers and mind manipulation of social media. “Tristan Harris is the president and a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology. Earlier, he worked as a design ethicist at Google, where he studied ethics of human persuasion” (from Wikipedia). Read also his text How Technology is Hijacking our Minds.
For a group of engineers, it could be interesting to just go to the alphabetical list and check the keyword Engineering. I found a few talks interesting here – like Tania Douglas’ talk – however I’m not so sure what is really interesting to production engineers. But, in any case, if you are generally interested in more than just your field, you will always find something.
Bill Gates Ted Talk from 2015
Alanna Shaikh Health Consultant on Why Corona Virus hit now and how to prepare for the next. This TED talk was already held in March. Highly recommendable!
Overview page on cruise ships
Articles from The Guardian: New selection from September 28
Michael Cohen, Only a Fool would write off Trump, but there is a reason …..
Republican values and ideologies do not represent those of the majority of American people. So why are the Repbulicans in power? It seems the political institutions of the US have been largely skewed in favor of the GOP. Starting with the unequal representation of states in the senate to the strong gerrymandering of voting districts….(read article below)
On the dangers of social media (September 28)
August 18 Food Waste Increasing in UK
There seems to be a marked difference in the way female leaders have been handling the corona crisis according to this article
The world might never be the same again after corona crisis, article from The Guardian, already written in March
This is not how it should be done: the new phenomenon of Social Distance Shaming
Articles from the New York Times
Are you an extrovert or an introvert (and why it matters) This article and quiz is related to a TEDtalk from 2012 by Susan Cain; Quiet: The Power of Introverts. The issue has been revisited now in corona times in connection with how people feel about having to work alone from home. This is generally an extremely interesting topic and will get more attention from my side as it touches upon very basic questions of life and work and the false dichotomy thereof. It touches upon everything. People are questioning there lives and values and how we do things now and how we did them before. And why am I happier now. It touches upon topics dealt with in books with titles like: Your Money, your life; Living Well on Less; Enough is Enough. How do I want to live my life? Can we go back to the way things were? And on a more basic, profanely economic stance: Governmental support for the car industry? Are you crazy? Warren Buffet sells his airline stocks and so on. I was discussing all these questions with one of my one-to-ones this morning (May, 13). It was a very intense session (and I will try to write everything down that we talked about.)
Back to the introvert/extrovert continuum, I have noticed a difference in happiness levels (in lieu of a better term) between staff members, and employees in leadership position, something we also discussed this morning and that definitely needs some follow up consideration. One person’s gain might be the other person’s loss here. We will see. Definitely interesting times (especially and maybe only if you are in the luxurious situation of not being effected by the disease).
April, 19 World Health Organization Response Fund
April, 18 Global Citizens @ One World Together at Home – Benefiz concert online
NPR article on Benefiz concert One World Together
The Atlantic (added June 4, 2020)
A source for latest science news, also on corona: Science Daily
New York Times (general link)
Germany’s school reopenings (added August 26)
Article from May, 18 on Germany’s handling of the corona virus and the difficult way out
MSNBC (Rachel Maddow)
The link above is to the main TED page. If you go to Fareed Zakaria’s Ted Talk, you will find more on the current topic.
April 17, CNN Corona Tracking
New York Times April 14 Newest on Corona
Swedes are expected to prepare for emergencies. Article from The Guardian; includes link to the Swedish Emergency Brochure (that you can lownload as a PDF file for sharing with Adobe when using an online meeting programme like Webex or Teams).