How I’m managing my life with emacs org-mode (by )

It's no secret that I'm a busy person; often, when I decide to do something, a few years pass before I actually get to do it. So the only way I keep afloat is by the judicious use of computers to track my task lists. I rely on automatic systems to make sure I always know what I need to do today, and what are the most important things I need to do "sometime" that I can do right now. There's no way I could keep all that in my head without forgetting about things and letting people down, or feeling stressed because I'm juggling too much in my mind, or not being able to find the best thing to do when I have a free moment.

As I've mentioned before on here, I want a personal information management system based on predicate logic, so I can express complex relationships between things easily, and tell the system how to infer knowledge automatically. However, "build one of those" has yet to hit the top of my TODO list, so for now I'm using emacs' legendary org-mode. This lacks the rich semantic power of my proposed PIM, but it's already implemented and has a nice editing interface :-)

A few people have asked about what I've done, so here's my attempt to document it.

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Old Maps (by )

The Maps of Imagination

I went through our books and found we had like a shelf of out of date maps of various types so I thought I would do some craft stuff with them. I had a few ideas which I'm sure you will all be getting to see soonly! But I also popped on the laptop to have a little look around the net and found some amazing things on Pinterest.

I saw some amazing pictures done on maps and though that type of drawing isn't really a me thing I thought about the fact I have a draw full of old mapping pens which were damn expensive (geology was known as the colouring in degree at Imperial), and I thought and thought and remembered I'd wanted to do some pictures of little creatures....

And yeah - so now I have a few of these pictures and lots of butterflies the girls punched out of maps and I have plans for bigger art works and what not!

I will be selling the Maps of the Imaginary at the comic con in Cheltenham in Feb for anyone who is interested :)

The Extreme Reading Jean (by )

So Jean's friend came up with an idea over Christmas and that was EXTREME READING which he did and took photos of to school. The school promptly nicked the idea or though he is helping coordinate so nicked isn't the right word!

the Extreme reading Jean

Anyway Jean is now Extreme reading - the book of choice is How It Works written by the XKCD comic guy - this was one of her Christmas presents - it was supposed to be mine but she got excited about it when she saw Al wrapping it. It has now been read several times!

Close up of Jeany ready How It Works XKCD in the cave at the climbing wall for homework

We took it to the climbing wall because extreme sports can always be improved by reading right? Cause everything is improved with reading... Not sure what we are going to do as a follow up though!

Jeany reading in the cave

12 years… (by )

So today I went to the Drs to see how the weight loss was going and stuff, I was convinced I had piled it on over Christmas I felt a lot stockier than before Christmas and to be honest I ate a lot reaching 1600 on alot of the days. This is about the 1400 stable and 1200 weight loss that I sorted with the nurse. 1600 is what I was eating before I went to the Drs, the amount I was eating and wondering why my weight was creeping up as everyone knows women have 2000 calories a day - unless you are me. I am short, had a boarderline thyroid for a decade or so and as it turns out have the lighter Asian skeleton like my dad (as well as the afro-carrabean spin from my mum) - add in the low mobility and I was screwed.

But between tablets and the discovery that I can't eat wheat and sticking to the low calorie counts to loose the excess weight, I have been loosing weight but I seriously ate some food over the holiday and then my birthday and so on.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I go and find I have lost weight, not much but I have lost weight still. The key being that due to pelvis being a lot more stable I have been out doing more stuff, doing running games with the cubs and even managing a 20 minute climb. And then they said my bloods were all good, all the tests were normal!!!

That is the first time that has been said to me, no not sures, or a bit high, or oooo that's not goods or it's boarderline or here's a tablet to help control this. So amazing!

And that is the first time in about 12 years possibly more.

One of the conversations I had with the Dr recently was that I don't know what energy level I am supposed to have - I've not had "me" energy since I was 18, I don't think 30+ normally have the same the energy as a teen so I have no idea if I am back to normal or not and to a certain extent I kind of don't care either as I am so much better than I have been for so long. I feel a little bit sad that that bit of life is kind of missing for me but at the same time I have the girls and though maybe I could have taken them to more things if I'd been weller I also know they love snuggly time watching films and colouring and stuff and I still took them to parks it was just some days I couldn't and when I did it was the outing for the day.

Interestingly I came home thinking about what I was doing last time it looked like I might get better with all the back treatments and exclusion diets at Chelsea and Westminster. That was like 12 years ago as was me trying to get a PhD place, the one I really really wanted was with the Open University, but it relied on Beagle2 landing and collecting data. It didn't happen, the beagle disappeared and today I watched the press-conference live of how they've found it sitting there on the surface of Mars. It made me smile, bitter sweet and poetically lovely.

Maybe when I have a cyborg body I can fly to Mars and say hi to it :)

Of course with hindsight I think it was for the best for me, I became so very sick and my friend who got the PhD funding did far more with the chance than I think I would have because fundamentally I am a shyer person and just not as good at Chemistry and form filling!

And anyway I am not sure I wouldn't be in a similar place to were I am now anyway.

2015 is kind of gearing up to be an amazing year.

The Ship Passing In The Night (by )

The Ship

I think, though I am not sure as I am not good at dates and what not, but I think about 20 years ago my nan died in the middle of the night. Nanny Richards, my mum's mum with her halo of white fizzy hair and soft wrinkled skin. I was in secondary school, I was being bullied, my parents had planned a party for me, my birthday being on the 11th but then Nanny got very sick and it never happened, I remember thinking about how no one would have come anyway except Nikki, Helen and Karina - people who are still my friends and who were worth more than any incrowd but you don't know these things as a mid teen going through a mid teen crisis.

In the months leading up to my nan's death we had basically moved in, I slept on a lumpy thing we called a palias on the floor and was reading Nightmares and Dreamscapes - my first Stephen King and a collection of short stories. Some days I didn't go to school but stayed and looked after my nan, and made sure that my uncle who had downes syndrome got out to his coach on time.

The bullying at school was at about it's most intense as I was just starting to lick the dyslexia and achieve, I was winning awards and I got my first stuff published around this time. My nan had been really very sick for a long time by this point. She had osteoparosis or as we knew it - Brittle Bone disease, the bones in her spin were collapsing and she was growing a hunch. Apparently it was her wings, she always said it was her wings and is the reason the watch maker story/myth makes me meloncholy.

My nan ended up at the hospital, her lungs were being crushed by the humpy back and she had a cough, she had pnumonia, she was dying and her skin had gone thin, when I washed her it ripped or bruised. I didn't cry, I just cleaned the comode and told her it was ok when she kept saying sorry. And then me and my brother went to stay at my aunts - everybody including my aunt were at the hospital. The drs tried to send them all home, my aunt came home and that is the reason that she missed my nan dying, the others stayed. My family needs to be by the bedside, the modern nhs do not like this especially with the shear number of us - now we know to stick to our guns - back then we didn't, well not so much.

I had to wake my aunt up as I was asleep on the sofa next to the phone and heard the message from my granddad. She didn't get back to the hospital in time.

The next morning we sat round my nan's, I tried to be helpful, I knew it was going to be hardest on my little brother and he was little then, still shorter than me. I made teas and coffees and we read the horoscopes and prayed and laughed and cried - except I didn't - the horoscopes mentioned a the passing like ships in the night and we went and got extra copies of the newspaper and each had a copy of the horoscope reading. I'm sure this probably sounds very silly but I don't really care as it was an important thing to us, and judging by the painting I did, I would say it is obviously still important to me.

My nan wore fluffy track suits in blue and fake animal print, her house was always full of people and there were multiple freezers full of bulk buys that fed us all. Before she got too ill she would cook Sunday lunch for us and we would listen to my uncles djing often in competition with each other or there would be little mini guitars for us kids to play on or my great uncles would try to teach me the spoons.

I watched WWF wrestling and night rider with my nan and she didn't know how to cook pizza and always burnt it and washed the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher we'd all saved up to get her. She bought our school uniforms when the docs closed due to the Thames Barrier and various other things happened causing the jobs to disappear. My aunts and uncles friends would often be round and we'd visit my great nan who'd had to go into a home just opposite my nan, she died not many years before her daughter and that seemed so unfair to me. My great nan was robust but nanny, there towards the end - she was so frail - she was younger than my mother, younger than so many people I know and yet she looked so old, her skin so crinkled and worn.

I'd learnt to be gentle and not hug too hard, a vigerous hug could break brittle ribs. I miss her, I miss the point long pronged combs she used on mine and her's hair and the lady who came around to straighten her hair so that it could be curled. I miss her turning the TV over right at the end of the programms just to annoy my dad or because we would find it too scary (we all knew it was she who found it too scary especially Dr Who! and Paul Daneils!). I miss the fact that I could turn up with stray animals and she would look after them for me, everything from kittens to teripins to snails to my gold fish.

Around the time of her funeral the main bully at school pushed me too far and I hit her, I am sure I wouldn't have gotten away with it now, I almost didn't then. She whizzed across the changing rooms and then came at me for some revenge. I was normally erm... well... meek - this time I hit back because I didn't care. I also cut my hair short, it was a source of bullying, it was pulled, set on fire, had glue put in it, pens and more, I used to talk to my nan about it but she wasn't there anymore so I decided that there had to be a new me instead and so the hair went, in truth it wasn't gone for very long and I discovered frizz ease which helped alot.

I am not sure how accurate my rememberings are, I didn't cry about my nan's death until a long time later, I was mainly angry. Her funeral was amazing! There were I think 6 black cars full of family and over sixty follow up cars, she hadn't been a famous person just a mum, just a nan, just a neighbour and friend. She had known heart ache and loss and looked after those who needed looking after and kicked the rest of us in the bum - sometimes literally. Rainham was brought to a stand still, it was her village - before it was part of London but it was also the docks but she owned them too, it was her world and she had been if not the centre of it then a centre of gravity and of course she was related to the funeral director and he proceeded on foot even on the main roads.

Just missing my nan and thinking about how the world has changed and how in many ways it hasn't. I would say rest in peace but I think she would rather rest at a party to be honest, there would be hobnobs.

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