Don’t you just hate it when someone chirps up: “Every day is a school day”? If school was your own worst nightmare, it really is not very encouraging. So I am not going to say it. Instead, I am going to tell you about five (random) things I have learned in the past week.
- The Earth is not round! And no, it’s not flat either, so don’t worry about dropping off. Mind I would be more worried about dropping off a moving ball than a straight plank. I digress, because the Earth is… potato shaped. Compressed at the poles and bulging out at the centre. Thanks to BBC Radio Four for that one.
- Want to get to the bottom of things? Then ask the question ‘why?’, but do it five times. This piece of advice came from a design lecturer at the University of Warwick at a workshop last week. It reminds me of driving past some men digging up the road on my way to taking my toddler daughter to school. She would always ask why the men were digging up the road. Because they want to get to the pipes. But why ? Because they need replacing. But why? Because they don’t work very well. Why don’t they? Because they need to go to a new housing estate. But why… It used to drive me mad, so much so that I would take a different route to avoid the whys. But it is a useful technique of questioning what we are doing and why. Putting the whys into wise.
- Going past one of the information boards along the canal near the Canal and River Trust office, a name caught my eye: Thomas Telford. Now he was one of the greats of civil engineering. I associate him mostly with the Menai Bridge and a series of iron bridges, though ironically, he did not design The Iron Bridge – that honour goes to Thomas Pritchard. Anyway, learning point number 3 was the fact that Telford was the engineer behind Edgbaston Reservoir, just a stone’s throw from where I used to live. Originally a small pool called Roach Pool, it was enlarged by Telford to supply the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN) system.
- Listening in on another Radio Four programme, I was intrigued by the question: how much faster does a cart go if it is pulled by two horses rather than one? Common sense might say twice as fast, indeed if that fast, but actually the answer was three times! Now I don’t have a horse and cart so it’s not much good to me, but it had me thinking about collaborative working and how the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts, as the philosopher Aristotle put it.
- Finally, I have learned how to say peace, love and friendship in Ukrainian, for obvious reasons….
myr lyubov i druzhba