Old stone in Edinburgh

The accidental learner

Students have a knack of always having an answer that turns the tables on you, even when they don't have the answer they actually need. I present in evidence of this generality the specific instance of the lad who had performed his calculations in a practical report all wrong today, but when I presented the meaningless disaster to him he wailed that he just did not understand how to do these things. And when I reminded him that I had lectured on how to do these things and that the explanation was also available on my online site he said, "but I just don't understand it." So, leaving him for a while, I went to retrieve a previous report of his, took it back to him, laid it out before him, jabbed my finger at the relevant place on the page and said, "Look, here, a few weeks ago, you did exactly the same sort of calculation completely correctly."

He looked. He pondered. He shook his head a little and then declared, "Well that must have been completely accidental."

I gave up.


In perspective

Each one of these has many thousands of millions of stars, yet occupies not even a pinprick in the wide sweep of our big sky, among endless other not-even-pinpricks, and yet we think we may be important? Well, either we are astonishingly important, that is, we are alone, or we are not even a speck of dirt in the universe's eye, which leaves me not knowing (whether to laugh or cry).

Not my photograph, I admit - a passing phantom just dropped it

Good words

They don’t just come when commanded,
they have to be born by themselves,
but when they come good they come easy,
as if created by somebody else.
The flow is dictated by rhythm,
the thought is dictated by mind,
and once here they are often discarded,
awaiting for someone to find.


Old young me

These are some of the chemistry researchers at the University of Cambridge Chemical Laboratory in 1978, and right in the middle there is old young me, second row from the back, fourth row from the front, and noticed now because this fuzzy close-up was cropped from a larger image I found high on a stairway wall during the process of returning to the Chemical Laboratory to be interviewed for a profile story about my life's adventure that will appear in the Cambridge Chemistry magazine very soon now - Winter 2016 issue - and with a much clearer photo, I am sure. Forgive this self indulgence, but the memories are making me feel rather odd, and the life has come and gone, mostly, although I have been told that the best may yet be to come. I am not sure if that faith was being expressed for my work as my real self, or as this alter-self that rambles here, or for all and everything in general, but I will keep trying, until I can try no more.

A song for Seanso

As sung boldly but badly out of tune by Don QuiScottie de l'Ecosse (sounding much like a cuckoo in the kookkaburra tree)

The Grim Reaper is The Grim Healer
He cuts your trouble from sight
with one swipe of his clean sharp scythe
And everything that ever mattered
and bothered
and troubled
and tortured you
will be gone...
with one swipe of his clean sharp scythe
And the sweet Healer will come
so do set today’s troubles aside
‘till the job of his healing is done
with one swipe of his clean sharp scythe
with one swipe of his clean sharp scythe.

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That's that then

Three years younger than me…
slim, healthy, but dead.
Walking around on Monday,
working, discussing what lay ahead.
Now cold on a slab today, Tuesday,
people reciting the last things he said.
"Next week, tomorrow, the meeting…
the deadline, the problem, the strife.
Cheerio then, we’ll discuss that tomorrow…"
hours later, departed this life.

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Fresh frost on old graves