Tech Talk

                A news item that amused me this week was the announcement that children are to be taught ‘computer language’ at school.  The first thought that struck me was ‘Good!’ because a large [and larger by the year] number of children entering school have no language whatsoever, or none that can be understood, and perhaps they will gain some means of communication. In a class of 5 and 6 year olds I taught a child repeatedly came to me and said ‘Srink!, srink!’. It took me some time to work out that this meant he would like to get a drink.

                And then I wondered when this teaching of computer language is to take place. During the last twenty years, any number of bits have been added to the school curriculum, and as far as I can tell, nothing has been subtracted. All this adds up to a mighty long day, surely? If they are to get enough sport-and this is in response to the growing obesity problem, begin to grow and cook their own food [does anyone besides a teacher know what the logistics of gardening and cooking with a class of 30 kids entails?], do enough literacy and numeracy [we are told every day how innumerate the population is becoming], study ‘citizenship’, learn how to be healthy, get a bit of religion and pick up some art, music, history, geography and dance [oh-and what about science and technology?], when is this language learning to take place? Did I leave anything out? I wonder, seriously if they should be allowed to go home at all, since they will have no time to eat dinner, wash or sleep.

                And who is going to teach it? During the 90s we all had to undergo some stringent training to be able to use and/or teach information technology-and yes, we did teach quite a bit of programming, even then. Remember the turtle, ‘pen down’ and programming it to draw patterns on paper the floor?

                I can see the time approaching when the middle man can be cut out entirely. Let’s not bother with teaching anyone about talking computer speak-let’s just let the computers talk to each other. I feel convinced they will make a much better job of conversation than the majority of humans will in the future. As I said in a long distant [but still much visited] post, The Art of Conversation is struggling to survive anyway and most people seem to commune exclusively with some kind of screen. In fact, I suppose in the end machines will rule the world and mankind will simply fade away to become an exhibit in a museum visited by robots.

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It’s Torture on the Trail and Suffering in the Saddle…

                In the doomed interests of resurrecting my bicycle fitness, my personal cycle trainer, [aka Husband] has begun the general cajoling, wheedling, persuading, justifying, soothing and encouraging needed to get me back into the saddle and off into the great beyond along the tracks and byways that make up France’s cycle-paths.

                In preparation for this annual event he has cleaned and prepped the bike [a wondrous bike-not in the least responsible for my ineptitude], gathered together any equipment that may be likely to make the entire business less arduous and painful [for both of us, you understand], organised as much as possible in the way of safe, flat, sheltered routes offering respite along the way-in other words-bars, and prepared himself for the slow, pathetic, whimpering would-be cyclist I always am.

                The ‘pistes’ are superb; flat [due to the terrain], tarmac, off-road, signed [mostly]. Husband is an expert cyclist, swooshing effortlessly through the half barriers and up over jutting kerbs with no perceptible reduction in speed. He offers an occasional glance over his shoulder to assess my progress and is rewarded by the sight of me back in the distance, affecting an undignified paddle through the chicane or lifting the handlebars up to scale the pavement. He offers strategic stops to assuage the soreness of the backside and the undercarriage; my own upholstery soon becomes tender, even with the gel-padded, hi-tech cushioning of the lycra cycle shorts that are wedged, nappy-like under my nether regions.

                “Keep your speed up…and just GO!” he exhorts as I attempt to negotiate yet another obstacle. In the past I have endeavoured to follow this instruction, resulting in my crashing into the sides of narrow bridges or parting company with the bike [painfully on to gravel] on a particularly sharp corner and rashly into a night-time clump of aggressive nettles. I seem to have an innate inability to steer, needing to dismount completely whenever a complete turn is needed, or any sudden change in direction.

                The traffic, thundering around the occasional roundabout where the path has momentarily disappeared, terrifies me. “I’m going to walk across”, I announce and he eyes me wearily as he waits for me to catch up.

                Somewhere there will be an incline, perhaps to cross a bridge, or a cross wind-or a head wind, where I fall further behind. “Low gear!” he advises, unaware no doubt that I’ve been in low gear since we started out and have, now, no more gears of the low sort to change to…

                Despite all this pain and effort I know that by the end of the month I will have racked up the kilometres and have returned to a semblance of my slow, summer, fair weather, recreational cycling persona, with a slightly more resistant derriere, sturdier legs, wind-blown skin and appetite for beer. Then I will be home and be able to take up the reins of Zumba where I left off……

Oh dear!