Outlander: The TV Show

Claire and Jamie

Claire and Jamie
from http://tvline.com/2014/08/07/outlander-series-premiere-preview-sam-heughan-caitriona-balfe/

Watched Part 1 of The Outlander on Showcase last night. This morning I saw a Tweet dissing it. Having read almost all of the series, I thought, as an opening, it was well done. True, they went on at length about Claire’s time with Frank, but every time I started thinking: “Get on with it; get to Jamie!” I’d realize that it was a necessary set-up. In a time travel story, using flashbacks wouldn’t work, so the long set-up was necessary. Then when we reached the Jamie part, I recognized something I hadn’t fully understood from the novels: how important Claire’s time as a war nurse during the Second World War was to the plot itself.

When Claire finds herself fleeing the Eighteenth Century English army, and captive of the Scots, trapped in that time, she responds to the situation like the Twentiethy Century war nurse she was; she commands, demands, and swears. She’s focussed on emergency medicine, and used to being in charge. The Scots are bemused by her, but the leader lets her fix Jamie’s shoulder, and, later, his bullet wound. They are puzzled by her swearing and wonder if she’s a “whore”. She’s completely outside their experience, but her very confident, impatient demands while she’s treating Jamie ‘sells’ her competence to them. The skills and attitudes she developed during her war nursing experience are central to the Scots’ recognition of her as a significant human being.

The physicality of her relationship with Jamie begins immediately. Although she and Frank are presented as having a very sexual relationship, with Claire often taking the lead, there are clear gaps in the rest of their relationship. It is a relationship with problems, which allows the readers / viewers more comfort when Claire is forced into time with Jamie.

Claire’s training and experience as a war nurse is present in her first moments in contact with Jamie. Just before she moves his arm back into its socket, she makes eye contact with him, looking for acknowledgement of what she’s about to do, and permission. He nods. Already they are in physical contact, but it’s communication, and tough healing.

Their communication is blunt and forthright from the start, and a contrast to Claire’s careful conversations with Frank. When Claire finishes fixing Jamie’s shoulder, she gives him the kind of graphic and profane instructions that she must have given to the wounded soldiers she’d treated. As Jamie and Claire ride horseback in the rain, he insists she share his plaid, and warmth, a physically forced by circumstance. When the redcoats approach, Jamie literally dumps Claire off the horse and goes into battle. When he returns, she berates him about his using his shoulder against her instructions, and appears unphased by either the blood on him or the way he’d simply dropped her off the horse. They are equals; both are pragmatic and tough, each in their own way, and they respect each other. What a great start to what will be, as I know from reading Diana Gabaldon’s novels, a loving partnership.

I have one criticism: Jamie’s hair isn’t red enough.

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Dissing Education

Caution: School Children

Caution: School Children

I’ve just finished reading the Saturday comics, this fine early August morning, and I saw something upsetting, pervasive, and subliminally powerful. I saw the ongoing American cultural disdain for education. Three of the comics were about how upsetting it is, for their characters, to think of the pain of returning to school. In one, a pleasant-appearing, bohemian-looking teacher eating an ice-cream cone, asks two kids how they are enjoying their summer. Their discussion after is about how disturbing it was to think about returning to school. The other two comics were similar – thinking of school ruins summer vacation.

I’ve noticed before that school-hating is a common and apparently acceptable American meme. I wonder, however, if this is harmless, or if it affects children and their parents at a subliminal level, telling them that school is a distasteful, negative experience. I wonder further if this might be part of the ongoing attack on American teachers. In my Twitter-based following of discussions of what’s happening in American education, I see teachers being implicitly and explicitly challenged and vilified. Is the sense of being entitled to treat teachers this way based, at all, on this anti-school meme?

After a career in teaching, I will admit that I saw a very few poor teachers, and even a couple (in 40 years) of lazy completely inept teachers. But I saw hundreds of earnest, hard-working, caring teachers, passionate about their subjects and their students.

I have two questions:

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Walking and Writing and Google Drive

This summer I’ve been using my Fitbit to encourage myself to get walking. But my pleasure in walking has been augmented by two other things:

  1. My purse-sized iPad Mini with its Logitech cover/bluetooth keyboard which allows me to stop and write anywhere I please;
    My iPad Mini with a Logitech Cover/Bluetooth Keyboard

    My iPad Mini with a Logitech Cover/Bluetooth Keyboard

    and  - 2. Google Drive and Google Docs which allow me to ‘pin’ my documents so I can write even offline, yet add them to my laptop whenever I’m in a wifi environment.

Here’s some useful information about Google:

New Google Drive Cheat Sheet

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Skype and Learning

Man on Skype

Skype Communication

How to learn how to use our devices: if at first you don’t succeed, ask for help and try again.

My 92 year old father and I Skype almost every night. We tell each other about our days, and keep up with each other between our face-to-face visits. The other night, he wanted some help. He’s teaching himself and learning how to use his smartphone for more than just calling. He’d taken a number of pictures and wanted to email these pictures to friends and family. However, he hasn’t yet connected his email to his phone and so couldn’t send the pictures directly from his phone. He’s struggled with this before, but he doesn’t give up. He keeps trying.

Another time when he had pictures on his phone that he wanted to share, he realized he had to transfer them to his desktop computer. He asked a visitor for help, and this man, wrote out the series of steps Dad needed to take.  Dad was successful then, and, remembering that, this time had pulled out the list of instructions and worked on his task. When he called that night, Dad had already connected the phone and desktop, but was unsure of what to do and what was meant by “DCIM folder”. Now I’m a little shaky in this area, but I have learned that letting myself try, discover that’s a mistake, and try something different is a good way to learn. So I began a series of suggestions, long-distance and without seeing his desktop. We tried a variety of moves, and after some time, Dad and I succeeded in getting his photos moved from his phone to his desktop, and he was able to email and share the pictures. Success!

I really admire his persistence and his ability to keep on trying and learning. I believe I have a similar learning style when I’m trying to learn web stuff. First I set myself a task, a project, then I struggle, ask for help, and then, if I have to, I look up how-tos on the web, and just keep on trying. Occasionally I get frustrated and stop, but often I circle back to my frustrating project, and try new approaches. It’s so satisfying to triumph, as Dad and I did that evening.

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Smartphone Pics & Videos

Driveway with Painted white arrow Pointing Down

Seeing Possibilities

I went to a workshop given by Wayne MacPhail – www.w8nc.com – yesterday and I know I learned a lot because my behavior has changed. On my morning walk, I took photos with my smartphone, as usual, but I took way more, and with a different conscious ‘eye’.

Wayne is both very knowledgable in a range of fields and excellent at explaining. Plus he’s very generous in sharing the material he created for his workshop, ‘Content in Hand’. I found what he showed us about taking shots with our smartphones very, very helpful.

I liked the information he gave us about how to create videos quickly with a professional tone, but I’ll have to have lots of practice before I’ll be able to control for everything, light, framing, sound, background, etc. all at the same time. However, I now have inspiration and a sense of how to practise, so I’m ahead that way too.

 

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Storehouse App


I’m just back from a trip to Boston, and I used the Storehouse app for two purposes:

  1. To slake my Facebook urges, and avoid posting my absence from home during my travelling; and
  2. To create a visual and text recording of our holiday.

I have in the past used PowerPoint and Slideshare for recording holiday memories, for example http://www.slideshare.net/vinall/huron-lake-rocks, but I really enjoyed using Storehouse on my tablet.

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Morning Walks

20140606-105356-39236131.jpg

“Summer is icomen in
Loude sing cuckoo”

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Google Docs App

A while ago I wrote about my happy discovery of Google Docs as my writing tool of choice because it allowed me to write on my iPad in coffee-shops, wifi-enabled or not. http://joanvinallcox.ca/my-current-writing-tools/ While I love the fact that I can “pin” my documents and not have to worry about wifi, I have discovered a disappointment.
Google Docs on my laptop offers a lovely menu, much like that on MSWord.
. Continue… »

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Discovering the WordPress App

After my struggle with using the tablet browser to create a WordPress post, I suddenly realized there might be an easier way of doing it. I checked for a WordPress app, and found one!

20140531-131923-47963797.jpg

I’m trying it out now, so you can see how it works for me. Of course I haven’t downloaded the WordPress Tutorial App – I’m not frustrated enough yet. I still able to tap various icons to see what they do and find enough that let me accomplish what I want.

It’s a different experience than working on a post in a browser, especially on my laptop, but it’s interesting exploring it.

Wish me luck in publishing this!

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Learning in a Tsunami of Information

Great Wave off Kanagawa

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa_restored.jpg

For writers who want to write and publish their own work, it is not enough to simply make it accessible online, writers now are involved in their own publicity, and that is done increasingly through knowledge of how to use social and/or connective media. The urgency for greater digital knowledge for communicators is clearly evident in the leaked NYT memo – http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/225939/internal-memo-shows-nyt-under-siege.html - For writers who get employed as journalists or in public relations, knowledge of how to use social apps is an increasingly required skill. TV and radio announcers now routinely use material found on the web, and politics and elections are shaped by Twitter and other web apps that contribute to “going viral”. Nobody who aspires to be a writer or have a position that requires writing should be without at least a basic hands-on knowledge of the interactive ecosphere of the internet.

As the social and connective aspect of the web is both relatively new and constantly evolving, the way to learn about it demands constant research, especially of routinely updated and emerging apps. Just the reference to apps implies that what needs to be researched would be primarily based on mobile use of phones and tablets. (Mobile devices are about to become the dominant mode of access to the internet.)

Writers need to discover people and curating services to follow. We need to regularly check RSS feeds, social blogs such as WordPress.com and Tumblr, podcasts, curations such as ScoopIt, personalized collections such as Zite, and digital or paper newspapers, magazines and TV. Learning where and how to keep abreast of emerging changes would allow writers to be constantly engaging in professional development.

With a working knowledge of a variety of social sites and apps and practise in keeping current in the areas they specialize in, writers can be confident they can survive this tsunami of information.

*Started on a tablet, in a browser, but finished on a laptop

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