22 October 2023

Momentous.me - What a Lovely Idea for a Website!

Momentous.me is a website that poses the question, "What moments bring you happiness? Discover stories from all around the world and share yours."  It is a truly heartwarming and captivating platform, encapsulating the essence of human connection and the celebration of joy in an age often inundated with negativity.

The beauty of this website lies in its ability to bring people from various corners of the world together to share and revel in their moments of happiness. It transcends cultural and geographical boundaries, weaving a rich tapestry of shared experiences and emotions.

In a digital landscape that frequently bombards us with grim news and divisive content, this platform stands out as a beacon of positivity. It serves as a refreshing oasis, offering respite from the constant stream of negative information.

Moreover, the act of sharing these stories has the incredible power to inspire and uplift others. By revealing their sources of happiness, individuals can unknowingly ignite a ripple effect of positivity, brightening the lives of countless readers. It's a poignant reminder that moments of happiness exist even amidst life's challenges and adversities.

But perhaps the greatest strength of this website is its potential to foster empathy, gratitude, and a profound sense of global community. As you explore the stories shared by people from different walks of life, you gain a deeper understanding of the common threads that bind us all. It's a reminder that, beneath our differences, we share the universal desire for happiness.

In conclusion, this website is an oasis of positivity in the digital landscape, inviting you to explore, share, and celebrate the moments of happiness that illuminate our lives. It's a beautiful reminder of the joy that can be found in the everyday, and it carries the potential to uplift and connect people from all corners of the globe. Give it a visit and be prepared to be inspired and filled with a renewed sense of hope and community.

This Animation Brings Home Just How Much We Expose Ourselves to the Media

Do you Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? Do you surf for funnies? Do you watch sport, reality shows and the news?  It’s amazing just how much we are bombarded by the media – or perhaps allow ourselves be bombarded is the correct way of saying it.  Until something like this animation by Cesar Cepeda is placed under our noses it is easy to imagine that it isn’t too much and that we control it. I think I might go and read a book today…

The OceanMaker

The seas have gone.  The little water left is in the sky – in the form of occasional, wispy clouds.  Yet one young pilot has a plan to try and restore the oceans, but she must get to the clouds before the sky pirates, who will stop at nothing to retrieve the last drops of water on Earth.  Amazingly, this animated short by Martell Animation was made using nothing but laptops during a 7-week artist retreat on a small Caribbean island.

The Story of Warfarin

Blood, rats and anticoagulants: The story of warfarin. Dog and Rabbit's latest video tells the history of warfarin.  As one of the earliest anticoagulant drugs, this story is littered with the bodies of sick cows and poisoned rats. This animation tells the story of how a bloody beginning gave rise to a life-saving medication.  It is a pretty amazing tale too – it’s quite incredible how one thing can lead to another which can then lead to something new.  Maybe you should just watch the video while I hyperbolise.

The Tulous of Fujian Province

Around the 12th Century the people of the Fujian Province in China decided that their homes did not offer them sufficient protection in times of civil strife and from the armed bandit gangs which plagued the area for hundreds of years.

Groups of families combined their incomes to provide their community with something more substantial – a tulou - that could safeguard their property and their lives in this mountainous area on the southeast coast of China.

Like any good idea, the idea of large, enclosed fortified buildings had already been around for centuries.  Yet advances in technology enabled communities to create a safe space, encircled by thick load bearing walls and up to five floors high.

The Best Casinos for Gambling Enthusiasts in New Zealand

New Zealand, a picturesque land known for its stunning landscapes, rich Maori culture, and exhilarating adventure spots, also houses some of the world's most exciting casinos. Each casino offers a unique blend of games, entertainment, and dining experiences, promising more than just a gambling spree. We've curated a list of the top casinos with the help from data provided by FruityKing that are a must-visit for any gambling enthusiast in the country.

1. SkyCity Auckland

SkyCity Auckland stands as the largest casino in New Zealand, boasting over 2100 machine games and 150 table games. Nestled in the heart of Auckland, it offers a plethora of gaming options, including poker, baccarat, blackjack, and roulette. The casino is part of a larger entertainment complex, housing a theatre, two hotels, and a range of bars and restaurants, offering a holistic entertainment experience.

2. Christchurch Casino

In the South Island’s largest city, Christchurch Casino is a gaming paradise amidst the garden city's tranquillity. With over 500 slot machines and 34 table games, the casino provides a world-class gaming experience. Weekly poker tournaments and cash games appeal to both novice and experienced players. Beyond the games, visitors can enjoy live music and exquisite cuisine at the in-house bars and restaurants.

3. Dunedin Casino

Housed in the historic Grand Hotel, the Dunedin Casino blends elegance and excitement seamlessly. The casino prides itself on offering a personalized and intimate gambling experience, with 180 gaming machines and a selection of table games. The Grand Bar and Café offers a gourmet dining experience, complementing a day of gaming with culinary delights.

4. SkyCity Hamilton

Overlooking the picturesque Waikato River, SkyCity Hamilton is a haven for gaming enthusiasts and leisure seekers alike. With over 330 gaming machines and 23 table games, it promises an electrifying gaming experience. The casino is also renowned for hosting regular events and promotions, amplifying the thrill of the gaming journey.

5. SkyCity Queenstown

SkyCity Queenstown provides an intimate and cosy gaming atmosphere amidst the town’s scenic beauty. With 86 gaming machines and popular table games, players can indulge in a focused and relaxed gambling experience. The casino's Wild Thyme Bar and Restaurant serve up an array of delightful dishes, making it a perfect spot to unwind after a day of gaming excitement.

New Zealand’s casinos offer more than just expansive gaming floors; they promise a comprehensive entertainment journey, blending the thrill of gambling with gourmet cuisine, live entertainment, and scenic beauty. Each casino caters to both the casual player and the seasoned gambler, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all. As always, it is essential to gamble responsibly and savour the multifaceted offerings of these illustrious gaming establishments.

Step into the world of luck and luxury and let New Zealand’s world class casinos offer you an unparalleled gambling experience wrapped in opulence, excitement, and enchantment.

Image Credit No changes made

15 October 2023

Structure Quiz for GCSE English Language (Paper 1 Question 3)

This quiz is based on a concise 386-word tale titled "The Unbroken Bond." It comprises 19 multiple-choice queries and 3 sequencing tasks. An additional task awaits those who complete it promptly. I initially crafted this resource in response to the scarcity of high-quality instructional materials that delve beyond terminology when it comes to understanding structure. I believe this quiz encourages thoughtful responses in an exam-style situation.

It is suitable for students working towards the AQA exams.  You can download it from my TES shop.

It's also suited for a substitute lesson, saving you from extensive marking, provided that you have the time to give the answers after the quiz is completed (students can self-assess or exchange papers with peers). I recommend starting by reading the story aloud to ensure that all learners have read it, preventing any attempts to rely on chance when answering questions, which can sometimes happen.

The story maintains a very PG rating, centred around a dog in search of its missing "boy", who is eventually found having spent the day at school. It aligns with the June 2023 P1Q5 (Paper 1 Question 5), "Write a story about a human encountering an animal," (or words to that effecr) and can also serve as an exemplar for that question.

An inclusive answer booklet accompanies the quiz, complete with explanations, enabling the teacher (substitute or usual!) to address student queries about why certain answers are correct.

The sequencing questions require students to arrange their responses in the PEE format, with the point and evidence presented in the initial sentence, while the two explanatory sentences can be arranged in different orders, as the final point employs a connecting phrase to indicate the conclusion is in progress.

While this quiz is relatively low-stakes, it encompasses a wealth of subject-specific terminology that can be discussed when presenting the answers. The goal is to solidify this terminology and expose students to how they can incorporate it into their attempts at P1Q3.

The text is also provided separately (optional), catering to students who prefer not to switch back and forth. The documents are available in both PDF and Word formats.

Should you prefer an online version, this quiz is easily adaptable. Questions and answers can be promptly copied and pasted into MS Forms or a Moodle platform, with the answer booklet's explanations enabling automated online feedback.

Enjoy the quiz!

Antelope Richards

The Richards are a lovely couple and everyone is so happy when they finally conceive.  Yet the child they produce is an… antelope.  Still, never let anything hold you back, and this young buck certainly doesn’t.  Quirky, funny and just a tad surreal, Antelope Richards is a highly improbable story about some highly unlikely things. It was created by Gary Ye during his time at Sheridan College.

Warsaw – City of Ruins

Digital technology has allowed us to play all sorts of tricks on the imagination – the cityscape surrounding Will Smith in I Am Legend is just one example of how the appearance of a city can be changed to appear as it would after a force of total malevolence had wreaked its damage.

Yet many people throughout history had no need of FX trickery to experience apocalypse and that was certainly the case for the people of Warsaw after the Second World War.  Previously one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, a place full of life and culture, the city was all but destroyed by the time hostilities ceased in 1945, its population more than decimated and its buildings and streets in complete ruin.

Yet in some ways black and white photography and grainy film footage can lose its impact over the decades, particularly for young people for whom there is no immediate memory of the carnage.  With that in mind Warsaw Rising Museum has commissioned this remarkable digital reconstruction of the Warsaw as it was after the war - City of Ruins.

The Polish capital is the first city to undergo this kind of digital recreation to show what it had been reduced to only a lifetime ago.  A team of thirty graphic artists contributed for two years to create this five minute reconstruction and Platige Image acted as Producer.

Following the flight path of a US Liberator over the ravaged city this elegant piece of digital art is somehow disquieting and calming at the same time.  It gives us a full picture of just how the city looked in its entirety (if that is the right word for these remnants of cosmopolitan life) and the work that its population had ahead of them in order to raise the city from the ruins.

The Visual Effects Society has recently announced the nominations for their prestigious VES Award for the best special effects in film, television, commercials and games. City of Ruins has been nominated for Outstanding Visual Effects in the Special Venue Project category.

The Warsaw Rising Museum will be presenting the film from 1 August and its Director, Jan Ołdakowski, would be delighted if you could come to the museum and watch the film.

The Cave City of Vardzia

The Cave City of Vardzia is remarkable.   Situated in the European country of Georgia at the juncture of Eastern Europe and Western Asia it has an over eight hundred year history.  Yet you would be forgiven for wondering why such a place was built in the first place. The words why and how spring immediately to mind.

Word of the Week #2 - Resilient

"Resilient" is a powerful and positive word because it encapsulates the ability to withstand, recover from, and adapt to adversity or challenges.  That's why we have made it our second "Word of the Week".

Here are some reasons why "resilient" is a good word:

Strength in Adversity: Resilience implies strength in the face of hardship. It suggests an individual's or a community's ability to endure and bounce back from difficult situations, which is a highly valued and admired quality.

Optimism and Hope: Resilience often comes hand in hand with a sense of optimism and hope. It signifies a belief in one's capacity to overcome obstacles, which can be inspiring and uplifting.

Adaptability: Resilience involves adaptability, the capacity to change and evolve in response to challenges. It's a reminder that growth and transformation can emerge from even the most trying circumstances.

Psychological and Emotional Well-being: In psychology, resilience is a well-studied and crucial aspect of mental health. It's associated with emotional well-being, coping skills, and the ability to manage stress, which are all highly desirable qualities.

Community and Social Resilience: On a broader scale, resilience is applied to communities and societies, indicating their ability to recover from disasters, economic downturns, or social crises. It underscores the strength of human connections and collective efforts.

Inspiration and Motivation: The concept of resilience is often used to inspire and motivate people. When individuals or groups face challenges, reminding them of their capacity to be resilient can encourage perseverance and determination.

Overcoming Limitations: Resilience implies transcending limitations. It's a reminder that people are not defined by their past or their circumstances but by their ability to rise above them.

Positive Self-Image: Being described as resilient can boost one's self-esteem and self-image. It's a testament to one's inner strength and resourcefulness.

In summary, "resilient" is a good word because it represents the strength, adaptability, and determination that individuals and communities possess when facing adversity. It signifies the capacity to grow, transform, and recover, and it is often used to inspire and encourage in challenging situations.

Come back next time for Word of the Week #3!

ABC of Monsters

Halloween is almost upon us and so it’s time to remember those monsters that kept you awake at night.

Here we have an ABC of monsters, each letter of the alphabet assigned to a particular beasty (though I am not sure about ET’s inclusion to be honest!). It was created by La Pompadour.

This is probably a good time for a confession - although I think I got most of these there were one two which I just simply cannot guess!

Now that’s what I Call a Halloween Costume

What makes a great Halloween costume? Money? Certainly the more you spend the more likely your costume is going to be realistic and scary. Time? Perhaps – the more elaborate a costume is then the longer it will take to prepare. Energy? Perhaps, but the single most vital element that makes for a great Halloween costume is thought (and perhaps a permutation or combination of the above too). Here are some of the best Halloween costumes we found.

Something unusual that others may not have considered can do the trick nicely.  Not many people would have considered making a costume based on the front cover of Seth Grahame-Smith's 2009 mashup novel, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  However, it works beautifully on two levels.  First and foremost, those in the know will just worship your creation.  Secondly, even if people are unaware of the novel they will still think that you have made a brilliant effort - and it is certainly a twist on the zombie hosts we see every year.

The Disappearance of Willie Bingham

You could say that this is Kuriositas’ offering for Halloween as it certainly has the horror quotient but very cleverly done (even though if you are squeamish at all you will wince on any number of occasions).  Prisoner Willie Bingham has committed a terrible crime and the authorities decide to use him as a pilot for a particularly gruesome kind of punishment.  Written and directed by Matt Richards, this will have you on the edge of your seat.  Scalpels out!

Halloween Safety Educational Film from 1977

This is a rather sweet educational film about the dangers of trick or treating at Halloween. Although it is only 46 years old it does sometimes seem to present an entirely different world to our own. It was rediscovered by Jason Willis who appears in the film himself at 5:26. You can read more about this rediscovery on his blog.

There is some groovy seventies background music but what is most interesting for me here are the costumes that are worn by the kids.  They are almost all home made (in fact in one scene we see mom taking up the hem of the little witch's skirt.  I just wonder how many kids are going to be wearing home made costumes as the trick or treat tonight!

8 October 2023

Word of the Week #1 - To Aspire

Welcome to our "Word of the Week" series! We're excited to kick things off with the word "aspire."

Aspire is a verb that embodies the essence of ambition and the pursuit of one's dreams. It means to have a strong desire or goal and to actively work towards achieving it. It is a word that resonates with ambition and the pursuit of dreams. When you aspire, you possess a burning desire to achieve a specific goal, and you actively work towards turning that aspiration into reality.

If you are doing an exam like GCSE English Language in the UK, expanding your vocabulary is a great idea. You are marked for using sophisticated vocabulary so let’s make this a weekly endeavour!

Why is this a great idea?

Expand Your Vocabulary: Encountering new words regularly can enhance your language skills, making communication more precise and enjoyable.

Spark Conversations: "Aspire" can spark discussions! Share your thoughts, experiences, and aspirations in the comments section below, and let's learn from each other.

Fresh Content: Our "Word of the Week" adds variety and freshness to our content, keeping you engaged and eager to return for more.

By exploring different words each week, we cater to a wide range of interests and encourage regular visits to our website.

So, let's aspire to learn, grow, and connect through words together. Stay tuned for next week's exciting word!

Your Turn to Contribute!

We believe that words have the power to inspire, educate, and connect. That's why we want to hear from you! Do you have a favourite word that you find intriguing, beautiful, or thought-provoking? Perhaps there's a word from your native language that doesn't have a direct English translation. We invite you to be a part of our "Word of the Week" series by submitting your own words. Share the word, its meaning, and why it's special to you. Let's celebrate the richness of language together and create a vibrant tapestry of words that reflect our diverse experiences and cultures. Send us your suggestions, and we might feature your word in one of our upcoming posts. Join us in this linguistic adventure, and let words unite us!