Moving Story Telling Cafe (by )

Over the last year or so I have been working very hard with two amazing story tellers to bring story telling to Gloucester and finally we have arrived - our first story telling session is on Thursday 21st November 2019 at The Cafe Rene - this was the first pub I ever went in around here back before we even moved to Gloucestershire. The pub has some amazing history including a well inside and is next to a glorious grave yard and ancient ruins. It is a fantastic venue.

This is the first of four nights though we hope to get it running on a permanent basis.

Gloucester Moving Story Cafe

Aural traditions such as singing and story telling are the basis of our modern literature and novel reading not to mention the theatre and even film. The tradition has held on by it's finger tips but now it is time for it to be once more!

Come and share with us 🙂

It is for grown ups only and sadly due to the antiquity of the building it is not wheel chair accessible though the other venues are.

Enthusiasm (by )

When I was a child, I was full of enthusiasm - as a keen self-taught engineer I was soaking up knowledge about the wonderful things that could be done, and my future was full of promise; I lacked the tools and money to build many of the things I planned, so focussed on tinkering with software (once I had a computer, programming was free!). But I was confident that I would be able to turn my skills to employment and earn enough to buy tools, and then I'd build so much cool stuff.

However, it took a while to get there, and along the way, I accumulated lots of pressures on my time as well. These days, when I have free time, I'm often too physically exhausted to do much, and that enthusiasm is all gone - nothing seems rewarding any more, and I fritter the free time away.

But it's not always like that. A few times a year, a burst of enthusiasm comes to me (and I think I know how to trigger it deliberately, too).

This weekend, I did a lot of DIY. I worked on the van, tidied the house, sealed the skirting boards in the kitchen (I've learnt how to apply sealant neatly!), caught up on my emails, did some financial admin, wrote up a lot of scrappy notes I had into my filing system (re-organising some bits of it on the way), and caught up on work hours I'd missed in the week due to visiting my sick father in hospital (he hurt his knee, and is recovering well!).

The combination of dealing with emails, filing my notes, and organising my filing system, however, brought back The Enthusiasm.

Which, on the one hand, is great - I used that energy to get a lot more done than I usually do.

On the other hand, it also meant that when I went to bed at 10:30pm (for a 6:30am alarm clock start), I couldn't sleep as my head was buzzing with ideas. I wrote them up in my bedside notepad, which usually releases the pressure of thinking about them, but one of them was exciting (a really nice way of supporting HTTPS in my Web hosting stack), and one of them wouldn't stop going around in my head - I came up with a simpler design for a new desk/shelving system I want to build in my workshop, combining my computer desk and an electronics workbench. This was stuck in my head because I couldn't just think it through to completion and then record it; I was trying to visualise all the fine details to work out how it would fit together, and it wouldn't fit in my head. So about 2am I gave in and went downstairs and fired up OpenSCAD and bashed out a 3D model of it, which also spits out a cutlist of what lengths of square steel tubing and areas of plywood I'll need to make it:

Figuring out all the fine details and seeing how they'd fit together finally relieved the mental pressure, and sometime past 4:30am, I fell asleep... getting somewhat less than two hours' sleep.

Today I've been able to divert the energy to my work, which is great, as that's what I'm supposed to be doing - and using that energy to make up for the fact that I'm dog tired. But I still spent my lunch break writing up my overnight notepad notes into the filing system and doing a few of the tasks I'd thought of, including planning a comprehensive consolidation of my sewing supplies into a proper sewing box plus a tiny sewing kit for emergency repairs, that can go into my bag. And writing this blog post!

I'm confident this is not evidence of bipolar disorder, because I'm fully aware of my slightly manic state, and I'm following tasks through to completion! But it's still not an ideal situation.

I've observed in the past that The Enthusiasm can be invoked by doing "infrastructure" work - updating my filing system, tidying my workshop, building tools, maintaining the van, building software infrastructure, etc. so my plan is thus:

  1. Book out infrastructure days.
  2. Work on infrastructure projects in the mornings. Try to remember the Enthusiasm I've felt before (this blog post will help as a memory jogger) plus sheer willpower to get me started, even if I don't feel like it.
  3. Let my enthusiasm take me where it takes me in the afternoon.
  4. Do this frequently enough that it's not all backed up inside me somewhere, so just a bit comes out at a time in a controlled manner, rather than big multi-day sleepless orgy of creativity.

Wish me luck!

Body Blob (by )

Again issue with doing lots of performance stuff is all the photos of me being fat - they are me doing things and I will myself use them but you know when good photographers still don't manage to make you look good! Well that... I am well aware that I have gained weight what with the miscarriages and just not caring with Dad's and others deaths.

We've been monitoring my weight weekly and everything I've tried results in 12 and a half stone :/ except that time I ate all the crap and I mean all of it from BBQ through to giant ice creams and I went down to 12 and 1/4 stone - the next week was period time complete with swollen painful legs and that was 12 and 3/4 stone but was then back to 12 and 1/2 stone the following week (it took about four days to loose the swollen feet and legs - something I have never before had outside of pregnancy and even then only really Jean's when I had all the blood clot issues).

The nurse for thyroid, diabetes and dietary stuff no longer exists as her role got axed at the drs - and I need to loose weight - I am literally carrying around half a me extra! As I should be 8 stone but the healthiest I've ever been was 10 stone when I was an outdoors pursuits instructor.

It's the mobility that really does me in with the weight or rather the lack of it and I am sick of it. Yesterday the venue we were at had no real food so I bought a chocolate bar but then felt so guilty about it I didn't eat it and instead ended up eating a really late dinner at home where I ate more cheesey type stuff than was sensible as I was REALLY hungry by this point.

I think I need to just follow what I did before with the nurse but am doing more work stuff now and I was so light headed, Passy outy and feeling like I was going to throw up that I just don't see how I can do that and be working at the same time :/

I have gamified my walking with Pokemon go and feel that if I can just shift some weight then my pelvis will improve and I'll be able to loose the crutch and maybe even go back to park runs or something - I have bought a load of medals ready to complete various challenges to help motivate me - they start with walking and ramp up so we shall see!

Please don't suggest the dieting groups like slimming world and weight watchers as they make me want to punch something and keep punching if I am completely honest! They are pretty much my definition of hell and I don't mean the food part of it - it's just a social dynamic thing - I have friends and family they worked really well for but they are not for me.

Protected: History of Story Telling Talk – Pecha Kucha (by )

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Our radio adventures (by )

My last post was about amateur radio in general, but for those of you who are interested, here's a summary of where we're at and where we're heading.

Jean and I did the Foundation Licence course together and passed, so we have UK Foundation licences. That means we can transmit in nearly every amateur frequency allocation, covering the HF, VHF, UHF and microwave bands discussed in my blog post. We're limited to ten watts of output power (details vary slightly in some bands), which is enough to do most things: at that power level you can communicate over intercontinental distances on HF, especially using Morse or data modes. I'd like to progress to the higher levels of licence, not so much for the increased power levels (although those might be handy), but because at Intermediate level you can use transmitters you have built yourself; and at the Full level, you can operate outside of the UK (as that level of licence meets the requirements of international radio law).

What we've done so far:

  • Obtained FM VHF/UHF handhelds - the ubiquitous Baofeng UV-5Rs - and experimented with external accessories for them; we have a magmount antenna on the car and a UV-5R hooked up to the 12v socket in the car and a fist make, as a cheap mobile rig, and various different headsets, antennas, and pouches to find comfy ways to wear the things out and about.
  • I've tinkered with antenna construction; I built a quarter-wavelength vertical with a radials, hinged so it collapses down flat, for the VHF amateur band. It seems to work pretty well.
  • Chatted to each other on the handhelds. We've done some experiments for the sake of it around town, and used them to usefully keep in touch at a couple of outdoor events.
  • I've played with APRS a bit. I didn't explain that in my last blog post: it's a protocol for announcing position and basic status information in digital data packets over the radio, meaning you can track the positions of other stations near you.
  • Chatted to each other on a local repeater, as an experiment. (Repeaters are set up by volunteers on tall masts so they have a good view of a lot of the local area, and re-broadcast your signal for you, so that two people down on the ground amongst buildings and obstructions can still talk to each other).
  • I've joined in some conversations with strangers on the local repeaters, but it's still a bit nerve-wracking doing so!
  • I've done some experiments with building simple HF antennas and hooking them up to a wide-band receiver I already have, and picked up a few signals - but mainly noise at home.

Things we're interested in doing include:

  • Volunteering with the local RAYNET group, to get some practice in doing useful things with short-range comms (VHF and UHF). In particular, we both want to gain experience with radio etiquette and build up confidence.
  • Talking to the International Space Station, which our licences allow - we have all the required equipment apart from a more directional antenna! We'll probably start with relaying digital data from the ISS digipeater as it doesn't rely on an astronaut being around to say hi.
  • Talking to amateur satellites; requires the same equipment as the ISS, but involves talking to other people on the ground. This will be fun because (a) SPACESHIP!!!! and (b) you get to talk to people much further away.
  • Getting onto HF! Our home isn't great for an HF antenna installation, from my experiments, so I'm interested in "portable operation". This looks fun - there are contests such as SOTA based around making contacts from hilltops and mountaintops, or IOTA for making contacts from islands - and I like the flexibility of being able to set up anywhere.
  • Getting a VHF/UHF antenna on the roof at home, with a base station transceiver. I'd like to be able to sit at my desk and monitor the local repeater, for instance, so that Jean can get in touch with me while she's out and about. Access to our chimney is tricky and my desk is in the workshop which is at the other end of the garden to the house (requiring a long cable or an expensive remote-controlled transceiver), so I might need to build a small mast on top of the workshop: the signal might be good enough for the repeater, at least, and making a truss mast out of aluminium would be a fun welding project.
  • Maybe build a "magnetic loop" HF antenna on the workshop roof; those are supposed to get better results in circumstances such as mine. Experiments must be done!
  • We both want to learn Morse; this opens up the ability to make longer-distance contacts with smaller, cheaper, transmitters, and is kinda fun in its own right.

WordPress Themes

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales