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Friday, January 17, 2003

Got a fair bit of well natured ridicule from colleagues with whom I share smoker's corner at work today when I pulled out the Shubb capo and revealed my love of it's design to them and told them about the blog journal. I am posting a photo of a Buddhist 'singing bowl' that I keep in my classroom,along with the Buddhist shrine I set up in the corner of my French teaching base to illustrate points to buddhist symbolism and make a nice feature too. I double as the Religious Education teacher and the environment I work in allows me the flexibility to do things like that. Of the faiths I teach, Buddhism is my nearest friend, all the others contain fantasies that I can't buy into. There is no God in my favourite faith.

I am amazed that the kids have shown such an ability to understand the concepts and features of Buddhism, even though, given their difficulties with concepts and processing information, I should be on a hiding to nothing. Part of that ease is in the'religion' itself, part is my empathy and enthusiam for it, but an educationa charity, Clearvision, has helped me in delivering the religion because of all the faiths , they produce the very best materials i have ever seen. I bought the 'singing bowl' directly from them from my own money for a modest £20. They are usually very much over priced on the net, but Clearvision aren't into any other kind of profit than developing insight.

I will keep the Buddhist shrine permanently in a corner of my teaching room. We regulalry replace the flowers with fresh ones and I have been known to exchange a wry knowing smile, during lessons, with the white rupa ( statue) I find its presence calming on me, helping my focus.

The singing bowl is an instrument not a bowl or bell. It is tuned and when you strike it it emits a beautiful sustained, calm tone . It is used to sound the beginning and end of meditation by practisinbg Buddhists. I use it to calm a class at the start of lessons, asking them to focus on it, and listen quietly until it stops singing. Pavlov be very jealous! They all calm down and focus, so we settle to learn together ! It has the same effect on me. I use it to stop them and regain their attention too. I rarely raise my voice these days. I think Buddhism is more about mental health than anything else and that makes it relevant. Even though Christianity is the state religion here, and we have to promote it percentage wise above all others as a legal but rather obscene requirement in a muti faith society, it appeals to me the least, and the established church, with our Queen as its defender, has , hung on to its dogma, at the establishment level , and to my mind totally lost the plot, whilst at grass roots, its younger branches are doing fine things day to day. Some rotten things have been done to mankind with the sanction or perceived sanction of the world's major religions whose texts have been read to justify, self-fulfilling human misinterpretation. For me Buddhism and Buddhists , simply never did that, but then, to my mind it isn't a religion in the pure sense.
johncoxon 4:13 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

johncoxon 8:45 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

This is one of my very favourite things and a modern masterpiece. It is beautifully designed and engineered. I love the feel of its smoothe shinning brass, its elegant simplicity and how well it fits its purpose, even though it is hard to figure out just how it does what it does so well! Pure quality. It is produced in Valley forge, California by the wonderful, family based company , Shubb. Their capo is used worldwide by guitarists and it is simply the best. Pictured here, I have snapped it on to one of my guitars to show how it operates.

Like so many great inventions, it was inspired and developed through observation, applied intelligence, perseverance and passionate desire to improve upon the somewhat crudely made and clumsy alternatives that already existed ( of which I had a tin load until finding this beauty. ) Various contraptions have been devised in the past to enable guitarists to raise the tuning of the instrument so you can play the same chord shapes but in a different key by simply moving the capo up the fretboard.

The inventors Dave Coonte and Rick Shubb were involved in music in the early seventies when they began collaborating designing banjo accessories in their spare time and that slowly evolved into what is now a global capo business which I know , from first hand experience , retains a warm family feel. Dave was an amateur banjo player and auto mechanic and Rick Shubb, was a professional banjo player. They collaborated on early designs connected with the banjo, but the company really took off when they perfected this device and a hobby and sideline took over their lives and turned into a full time commitment. When you find a niche and your product perfectly matches a need, it takes off big time without needed much help! Recently, they developed the product further to include a quick release lever, elegantly simple and well engineered once again but, even though I have one, the original is my special favourite. Visit their really interesting and comprehensive website at www.shubb.com.

johncoxon 6:00 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

johncoxon 3:15 AM - [Link] - Comments ()
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

johncoxon 8:25 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
One of my most moving experiences, at the hands of a modern architect, ocurred , taking me by great surprise, near one of the most famous landmarks in the world, but looking at Notre Dame cathedral from this river angle you wouldn't know it was there. It is the work of the late Georges-Henri Pingusson who was commissioned to construct a monument to the 200,000 Jews deported to Nazi concentration camps. You may just be able to see a grilled aperture below ground level, just above the water line on the island wall nearest to camera. In a park behind the cathedral all you see is a very low wall, almost hidden in the bushes. Its rough white rendered surface has an almost grafitti-like inscription in black, mimicking, it seems, the way in which a prisoner might scratch their initials with some improvised writing tool. It reads 'Mémorial des Martyrs et de la Déportation' That font , if it can be called one, is echoed on the inside walls of the actual memorial as is the rough white texture. There is a steep and narrow set of stone stairs leading down to a walled in stark courtyard with a striking iron sculpture tearing at the skyline and this grid ,pictured, giving a hopeless glimpse of Paris life. On one side there are two huge suspended slabs of concrete with a narrow opening. I didn't even realise it was a monumnet until I went through the narrow gap and that is when it hit me. Months later I realised that the architect had almost somehow enticed me down the stairs and deliberately , physiclly forced me to go in by myself, echoing that the experience was intended to be a very personal one. Inside face on, behind bars, the floor is carpeted with a long black granite or marble slab receeding away from you , walled in black with thousands of tiny glowing lights, one for each life lost. At the far end, a simple ,ordinary light bulb hangs from the ceiling, grudgingly giving its gloomy light. There are inscriptions in that grim script, quotes from great writers and lines copied from camp diaries and letters. Black , glassy diamond shapes in the wall are where recovered ashes have been interred, each annotated, if I remember correctly, with the name of one the notorious camps. I came out shaken. I found out later that the architect had the concrete made from pebbles collected from every region in France and then crushed to make the mortar. I read somewhere that the actual chosen site was deeply symbolic because it was in the very heart of Paris, important, yet hidden, as if in the national sub-conscious, below ground. It seems to be saying let us not wallow is self pity and showy sentiment or invest in grandioise and pious monumentation ; modestly and somberly empathise; understand ; keep this in mind, a warning of what Man is capable of doing to Man . This for me is a great architectural achievement and great art ; the perfect balance of design and purpose, and testament too to the immensely sensitive intelligence that designed it.
johncoxon 3:13 PM - [Link] - Comments ()
Sunday, January 12, 2003
Test Post
System 3:30 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

john/Male/51-55. Lives in United Kingdom/Engalnd/Salford, speaks English and French. Eye color is brown. I am what my mother calls unique. I am also creative. My interests are photgraphy/local history.
This is my blogchalk:
United Kingdom, Engalnd, Salford, English, French, john, Male, 51-55, photgraphy, local history.