I have been thinking about the differences between good and ok teachers, and I came to the conclusion that two things are important: showing passion for the topic, and being able to build bridges between known and unknown, for the students to cross. I would like to explain more about this latter point in this post.
When I explain something, I need to be aware of what the other person knows, because otherwise I would build a bridge between two unknown topics, that are not connected to anything else. That bridge will therefore be unuseful and will likely deteriorate before any other bridge will be built nearby. A big chunk of information I learned from school stayed, sadly, like cathedrals in the desert, away from my everyday life, precious in theory, but disconnected and quickly forgotten.
It happens that other people find a bridge by themselves, and are enlightened and proud of that new connection. I have learned to avoid judgment on how far-fetched is that connection for me – for example when I introduce a classical composer to some friends, and they connect it to medieval movies they have seen. I could correct them, because the composer has no relation whatsoever with the time and location of those movies; but the main effect is that the bridge is lost. That long bridge is a connection, nevertheless; when a new composer will be presented to these people, they will already know one of that time: so one new bridge could be added to the network, or as an intermediate point on the existing bridge. Condemning bridges is usually a bad move, rarely something positive. Of course if a bridge is misleadingly connecting two things, I point it out; but I try to offer an alternate connection.
That’s why I take extra care in asking other people what they know already, so that I can present the new topic to them, by walking with them on bridges they find meaningful.
I wish to thank the food bloggers that inspire me with their stories, recipes and pictures, I hope you find joy from their posts too. It’s a long post, because I wanted to show a picture from each blog, I hope you enjoy them!
Much has been said by well-informed critics over this piece; played it has been many times along centuries.
When I listen to this execution I find it witty, clean, passionate, classy. The initial notes could have been composed by a cat walking on the keyboard. The piece evolves then in a subtle crochet-work of harmony. There is so much grace and balance in these notes.
This is a graphical rendition of the score – the main theme is represented by red dots, and the patterns are visually easier to spot:
I hope you enjoyed listening to this piece! The links and videos contain links for further listening (like a lively jazz version!).
When you explain something or tell a story, two things are needed to make it interesting for others: the contents and the presentation. (That is quite obvious.) What is not obvious to me is the tipping point – when presentation becomes the main interest of the story, and the content alone would be mildly uninteresting:
I found this video very well done, all the presentation tricks are there: great music! stunning camera angles! dinosaurs! adventure! space! charismatic wildlife! suspense! Then, rewatching it, I started to see more and more little mistakes in the text and the image manipulation, and I saw beyond the tricks, and there was only that shabby old car. I still smiled, because I appreciated the effort in making such a great presentation.
This other video is a similar feast of presentation, over a generally niche and behind-the-scenes topic – system administration on SUSE Linux servers. I couldn’t imagine how to make a cool video out of it – but there it is (and the text is a gem, for IT-savvies!):
On a different set of topics, a great example of successful presentation skills is spoken word. In this case, content is chosen by the speakers among issues of their lives and their surroundings, mostly on social and racial inequalities. This video from Guante introduced me to spoken word, and it became viral last year:
That’s a bold, clear, resounding, thought-provoking performance. It’s about acting, rhetorics in the good sense – not in the one that filters and bends content according to presentation requirements. But how much of the virality has been generated by the topic, and how much by the great presentation skills? I don’t know, it’s hard to evaluate, but the important thing is that this content gained a lot of attention. In this case, I see that a strong presentation is functional to the content, and the intention of the speaker.
What worries me is when significant content suffers from a mediocre presentation, and fails to gain the attention that it should deserve. I can’t accept that the presentation is a necessary tool for any content to be considered at all. Does it deserve to be ignored because it is not able to advertise itself?
With that in mind, I just finished reading a collection of life summaries by people on their deathbed: Dieser Mensch war ich. They were not filtered to pick up the cool ones, the ones with a message for others – no, they were all there: the sad ones, the ones of people who think they made mistakes, the ones of people who felt guilty and miserable. The language was plain, simple, unpolished, confused sometimes. The presentation was barely visible, I felt it was almost pure content. How many of these stories would not be discussed outside of this book, just because they look uninteresting, because they have no hooks to the usual presentation tropes? And on the contrary, how many plain stories make it to the news, overdecorated with presentation?
I have subscribed to a storytelling course, but with these doubts I can’t make use of it. I would feel desperate if I understand that people listen to me just because I am able to sell my story, not because my story has a value in itself.
Last week I entered the stationery with the intention to buy a folder. I ended up buying two A4 folders, an A5 folder and 7 STABILO Pen 68 felt pens of unusual colors. Here are the first two sketches with the blue/green pens:
I like the vivid colours, and the flexibility of the pen tip. It makes it behave a bit like a round brush. The paper I have drawn on is too raw, so it’s easy to make darker spots unintentionally. I’ll try on a smoother paper and let you know! Anyway I am already happy with these first sketches.
It’s a nice selection of lists, box patterns, lines, squares, crosses, checklists… on pages that you can easily take out of the book and stick on a board. The very sparse text is in German, but I don’t see it as a problem for non-German speakers… the layouts are too nice! You can see the preview of most of them on their website.
I am so proud of my 28th baking result that I have to post pictures immediately 🙂
I used a recipe from Brotbackbuch n.2, namely Roggenmischbrötchen (mixed rye and wheat flour buns) in order to use a generous amount of my rye sourdough, that was almost dripping out of its container.
I took some time to understand the format of the recipe, but then followed it without issues. I made 8 buns and let them rise under a cloth (a piece of BOMULL fabric by IKEA, that I received as a present from valhalla – actually, as the wrapping of a briaccola):
Notice the separation folds: they keep the buns from sticking to each other, and partly decide how large the bun will rise. I put a good amount of flour on the cloth to prevent sticking.
After about an hour of rising, the buns grew twice the initial size, so I preheated the oven and tried a new technique to put them in it, using a half-circular wooden tray that I had from a small electrical pizza oven. It worked like a charm:
The buns cooked nicely for 20ish minutes, in two batches of 4:
And here they are:
The black and orange tool is a temperature measuring device. It is super useful in the kitchen: I used it to check the temperature of the oven, but I most often use it to measure the temperature of oil in a pan, so that it doesn’t overheat, and is hot enough to start browning onions.
Here is the detail of two crusts:
I am going to taste one, as soon as it cools down a bit 🙂
I hope I inspired you to bake your own bread and buns!