Category Archives: Technology

Playing Cards—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

When I was a kid, I had a passion for card tricks. One day someone showed me a card trick based on a mathematical formula. It was astonishing. He gave me the formula for doing it, but didn’t tell me how it worked, so I set about trying to figure it out for myself. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t see where the formula came from. I even asked a couple of high-powered students at CalTech (California Institute of Technology) for help. They said “Sure. Give us a couple of days and we will get back to you.” I never heard from them again.

Many years late, I did figure it out. I was extremely proud of myself, not because I had solved a very complex problem but because I had solved a very easy one. It just didn’t look easy when I first saw it, and for many years thereafter.

Card tricks still fascinate me, especially those based on mathematical formulas. I will tell you about this one a bit later in this blog. But first I would like to establish why playing cards themselves justly deserve a place on the list of what I like to call “Extraordinary Ordinary Things.”

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KITE—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Ben Franklin was not the first example of a kite being used for a scientific experiment, nor was it the last. Few people know that kites today are still very much being used to explore and understand our world. If you do already know this, that’s what makes you a nerd.

The subtle humor of Charles Schulz’s beloved “Peanuts” comic strip (which débuted in 1947) is somewhat of an acquired taste. When they first come across it, many people see little or nothing to it. However, the more they are exposed to the comic, the more they appreciate its delicate profundity. That’s what makes them intellectuals.

Most likely, dear reader, you fall into both categories, which together make you a very well rounded person.

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Teaching Online – 10 tips for a better experience

In these viral times, a lot of universities will need to switch to video teaching, and for many teachers, this is a new experience. Here are two videos with tips on how to become a better video teacher. I have used video conferencing extensively since the mid-‘90s and also mentor young teachers.

The first video focuses on the video experience itself—and is valid for anyone using video conferencing to get a message across.

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SCISSORS: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Have you ever needed a pair of scissors and couldn’t find one? No doubt you were extremely frustrated. Although scissors are one of mankind’s most low-tech inventions (two strips of metal joined at a pivot point), their uses are manifold and there seems to be no substitute. Imagine trying to cut a piece of paper without a pair of scissors, cutting out an article from a newspaper or magazine without scissors, opening a package tied up with string without scissors, etc.

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