REVIEW: Win a copy of Rip it up!

Macmillan have kindly sent me two copies of self-help manual Rip it up – one to review and one to offer in a competition.

So if you leave a comment under this post, being sure to use your correct email address, I will draw names from a hat on Friday and get in touch with the lucky winner to ask where you want your copy sent.

The book is an interesting take on self-help and I guess they needed to send me two copies because, if you read the book and follow the instructions, bits of the book won’t be there for its next reader. The idea is that the book wants you to change your habits, and it starts out by getting you to change how you see books. Suddenly it’s OK to commit the most heinous book crime, and tear out a page!

The book is by Richard Wiseman, professor of the public understanding of psychology at Hertfordshire University, and once the initial task is out the way the (entirely readable) first chapter delves into the academic history of the theories the book is hoping you can use to change your life for the better. Following the exercises, it’s apparently possible to become a better, more productive thinner person. Imagine!

If you too want to become better, thinner, and more productive, remember to enter the competition by leaving a comment.

Alex Foster and the impossible summer projects

As part of the school trip to Germany we watched a bit of a Harry Potter film marathon and I disclosed to a colleague that I have never read the Harry Potter books. I was promptly given the task of reading them all over the summer holidays. On Kindle, they’re quite expensive – The Complete Harry Potter Collection will set you back almost forty quid, as will a set of paperbacks. Harry Potter – The Complete 8-Film Collection [DVD] [2011] is, however, much more affordable.

Fortunately I have friends who were more than happy to lend me the complete set and last night, the first night of the holidays, I finished Philosopher’s Stone and a bottle of pale cream sweet sherry.

In a way, it is a shame to have seen the films before reading the books. Knowing all the plot points in advance it’s fun to spot the red herrings and the seeds of what’s going on (eg Quirrell’s turban). I find it a shame that I cannot picture any of the characters without having the famous movie actors in my head. Still, I’ve seen at most three of the films so the later books will still be new to me.

It struck me as I read the first parts, in which Harry finds out who he is, that he is a celebrity in the magic world and the muggles are oblivious, how much the world has changed in the sixteen years since HP was first published. There can only be a very few people picking up HP books now who don’t already know who Harry is – in fact, they know Harry is a wizard before Harry does, if you see what I mean.

In addition to Harry Potter, the usual ton of “ain’t nobody got time for that” household chores to do, I also have to learn at least one, preferably two of the Japanese alphabets – hiragana for sure, maybe also katakana. Memrise is brilliant for hiragana – I am using this course which has some brilliant mems, including ke as a keg and na as a naughty nun praying in front of a cross.

ke hiragana - looks like a keg

na hiragana - looks like a naughty nun praying to a cross

The Android app Hiragana Learn Experiment is also incredibly helpful, with three ways of getting you to learn the symbols – choose symbol for sound; type sound for symbol; and an incredibly picky draw the symbol task.

Back from the Rhineland

Just finished an awesome week on the banks of the Rhine with 41 12-year-olds. I hope a glorious time was had by all.

One of the activities we asked the students to do was draw a postcard to send home to their families. It was something I joined in with, having newly received my incredibly fancy Japanese drawing pens, as recommended by Zentangle(tm).

The fancy pens really do add something in where any actual drawing talent was lacking.

Despite my worries about the flimsiness of the card, mine arrived safely home shortly before I did.

Here’s my picture

Study visit to Rheinland

And a photo of the scene I was trying for

Study visit to Rheinland

And an album of all the photos from the trip that can be shared on the internet.