29
Jan
16

A verse for this Shabbat

isaiah 41 10 trans too.png

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18
Nov
15

My Swan Song from the UK

duck duck swan

Right before I left the UK,  I saw some swans on my way to church and stopped to take some photos.  The ground was uneven and my left leg fell in a small hole–just enough to unhinge something in my hip.  The swan didn’t seem to notice. I thought, well, I’ll do some yoga and deal with it.  Was able to somehow move to Cyprus the next week.  In Paphos, I met a wonderful ex-pat lawyer, Jeanette Truscott, who invited me to ancient St. Paul’s Church. But as I went upstairs on Sunday morning to take a shower and picked up a dust bunny on the stairs–POW!  Something disconnected and I was in paralyzing pain.  I could only crawl to bed.

Checking the Ex-Pat forum, I saw recommendations for a certain physio-therapist called Herodotou Nicos.  His features somehow reminded me of portraits of Mozart, and he looked at my body with dismay as if it were a damaged Stradivarius. He worked his magic on my hip like an artist.  Within three sessions, I was walking without pain.  Now I can finally enjoy the village of Tala where we now live.

 

28
Oct
15

What Big Countries Can Learn from Cyprus

After three and a half years in the UK, we are back in a sunny land:  this time we are in Tala, a suburb of Paphos in Cyprus.  We have been here less than a week.  So far we have found a raw honey source, fresh fish, but unfortunately only skimmed goat milk.  We have been told by our local shepherd, Marius, that we can’t get raw goat milk until January when his goats will give birth.

Today in Cyprus it is oct 28quiet because it is a national holiday. Banks, shops, and schools are closed. There are parades in Nicosia and all the larger cities. Today is ‘No Day’ or ‘Ohi Day’. Just 75 years ago, the Greeks said no to a bullying Mussolini and resisted the Italian invasion. This changed the course of World War II.  Read about it here in Wikipedia. For the Cypriots, Ohi Day (pronounced oxhi, the xh like the ch in Bach) is a day to celebrate independence and freedom from oppression.

Perhaps other countries could learn from the Cypriots, and start an Ohi Day of their own–a day to say no against invading ideologies that tear apart the fabric and morals of a country.
Cyprus is just a little country, but one with big ideas.

18
May
13

What the TV series “The Office” can teach Instructional Designers

I have been spending almost a year now designing a biblical Hebrew course.  Why would I do this?  Because being a language teacher, I didn’t like most of the courses that were offered.  Just like they say that doctors make the worst patients; teachers make for difficult students.  I employed various innovative methods from people like William Griffin.

I did my own graphics, used our photos from our trip in Israel, added cultural sections about the Dead Sea Scrolls, and even had words to popular Hebrew songs.  But it still did say “snap, crackle, pop!”  This course isn’t for the pedantic Hebrew scholars but for the “yuf” as we say here in East Anglia.

I strayed over to Powtoon and saw that they had fun avatars that I could easily use.  I did a video for my introduction that I really liked, BUT I could not save it.  It was lost.  But no use crying over spilled milk in the cyber world. I tried the Articulate learning software, but the avatars were too faded and old.  I went back to my original PowerPoint presentation and played with the shapes and made my own avatars.  It is not really hard to tailor the avatar to illustrate the text on the slide.  As I continued to work with them, they were no longer avatars but dare I say, characters, people. I uploaded my work on iSpring and here it is: http://rankin.ispringonline.com/view/6856-hA74n-W1d6V

While I was working on this video, I was also watching the TV series finale of “The Office.” (Am I the only one who works from home that does this?) Why do millions of people love this show so much? It took place in a boring, dead-end office where none of us would ever want to work.  The office was character-driven.  Even when the plots were lost, the writing bad, the audience could forgive.

We spend more time with the people with whom we work than we do with our families and friends.  In fact, in this day of dysfunctional families, some may see their workmates as family.  But as more people work from home, this changes.  We work in cyberspace where we still need that human touch. Many employees no longer get their training with their colleagues.  They are left alone with a light box.  Instructional designers can make it less lonely by animating the avatars.  They also need good story lines. We never really grew out of that need for a story, “Once upon a time…”

13
May
13

Potato Juice for Frozen Shoulder, Allergies, and GURT

If you hadn’t noticed, one of the latest crazes is drinking potato juice.  I had no idea that potatoes had juice.  All I knew is that they were pure carbs and to stay away from them.  And i wasn’t going to buy an expensive juicer that takes more time to clean than to use.  And to be honest, having a start-up company limits your finances but ignites your creativity.

My body has never made the adjustment from hot Chennai, India, to chilly Braintree, UK.  Hay fever went into asthma to the point where breathing was difficult.  A frozen shoulder was growing painful.  And from the lack of all those good spices in Indian meals, GURT meant that I paid a price for drinking coffee.

So I got the grater out, washed a potato, and started to grind.  I put all the mess in a clean stocking and squeezed.  Then I drank the juice.  I did this early in the morning and late at night.  It hasn’t even been a week.  You know what?  I don’t need my allergy medicine. Really.  Like it happened in 24 hours.   I can do things with my shoulder that I couldn’t do.  And the GURT is getting better.

Google potato juice yourself and see if it can help you too.

But I’m seriously thinking about getting a juicer.

08
May
13

What Jerusalem Day and Teachers’ Day and Spock have in common

spockWithout teachers, there might not be a Jerusalem.  How’s that, you might ask.  Well, it is a matter of “Tradition” as goes the song in “Fiddler on the Roof.”  There has always been the Jewish tradition of teaching the next generation.  The whole liturgy of the Passover is one big object lesson for kids.  While university professors were lecturing away, enjoying the sound of their own voice, doing a data dump in their bored students’ minds, rabbis were facilitating before facilitators were in vogue.  Talk about home-schooling, Jewish mothers would teach the Hebrew aleph-bet by baking cookies in the shape of the letters.

When will educators leave behind the old Greek oratory lecture method of teaching and enter into interactive learning?  The Digital Age of Education is how we will teach the next generation.  It has to be quick, memorable, visual, putting the student in the driver’s seat.  This is scarey for the 20th century educator.  But I say to you, give it up!  Even Spock (Leonard Nimoy) has given his mantle to Zachary Quinto, Elijah/Elisha style, ensuring future generation of Trekkies.   See them together in Audi advert.

Right now I am developing an online course for the most ancient of languages:  Hebrew.  This will not be a course for old fogies who want a grammar lesson.  This is meant for kids–because they are the ones who need to find Hebrew fun, because it is.  Through a company called iSpring, I have been able to make powerpoint presentations and upload them on their site.  They convert them to flash presentations.  But this is the kicker–they keep all my animations–which are essential to the method of the course.  Also, the student has control on the slides: the student can set the pace. Other website where you can upload your ppt don’t always offer these features.  That is where YouTube doesn’t cut it–a video is too fluid–it’s gone before you know it.  No time for reflection.  With iSpring, a student can stop one a slide as long as needed.  it’s easy to go back and repeat.  In learning languages, it’s all about repetition.  The student can hear the word as many times as necessary.  What is good about iSpring is that it accommodates a language written right to left. Also, there is no problem mixing the English with the Hebrew.

Also, at the end of each module, there is a game, what some would call a quiz. For learning to take place, real learning, students need to have the opportunity to check what they have studied, and many times, the learning actually takes place during the game.

This course is a great way for kids who are preparing for their Bar-Mitzva and Bat-Mitva to actually learn how to read Hebrew and have fun.  After this course, they can easily learn to read the prayers and scripture that they need to know.  And if some adults who are still kids at heart want to learn how to read Hebrew, they can enjoy it too.

In the Jewish tradition, I am searching for beta-testers.  I welcome interaction from participants where I can learn from you.

07
May
13

You didn’t really spend £16.95 for a Pepperoni Pizza, did you?

I read that many people in the UK have to borrow money or dig out of their savings just to buy food.  So who’s buying the pizza for £16.95?  In Chennai, India, I thought I was really splurging when I got a Domino’s pizza for rs 600.  So in my survival mode, I looked in my cupboard, and then googled.  Even though I was brought up in a second-generation Sicilian home in Timonium, MD, I didn’t know the difference between pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce.  I bet you didn’t either.  So this is it:  it’s mainly more concentrated, more spicy–and no surprises–lotsa sugar–or honey if you want to justify yourself.

So if you are poor but need your pizza, buy a pizza shell and make your own.  I had tomatoes in a tin, so I put it through my blender until it was thick.  I added tomato puree.  Then I added basil, fresh oregano, sea salt, cayenne pepper, honey, black pepper, lotsa garlic (love my garlic press), bay leaf, and…and…are you ready for this?  Because you really have to be ready.  I don’t know what Nona Fava would make out of this, but here it goes.  Yes, I put in two clean egg shells.  Why?  To take out the acidity.  This is huge if you have GURT or an ulcer or you know…

But that’s not my secret ingredient.  It has to do with Pinocchio.  I’ll tell you tomorrow.