Category: Sci/Tech

International Mens Day (by )

Alaric and sick kitten snuggles

It is International Mens Day today - this popped up in my memories on Facebook - Alaric curled up with kitten Lithium after her op. Alaric as he says is not shy about his emotions like most male people but he does still have extreme self reliance which causes him much misery and is part of the bundle that makes men more likely to commit suicide - my friends that have killed themselves to escape the dark places have so far all been men - here is the tribute song/poem that I made for them:

And also Al's write up of the miscarriage from the father point of view. Something which often gets over looked.

And guys - if you are in that dark place please please seek help - I know it's the hardest thing to do.

Seasons (by )

I realised something whilst watching all the online banta and bitchin about Halloween verses Christmas. For me there is no real distinction as such, Halloween at the beginning of the darker, scarier but also conversely cosy and safe part of the year.

I see the festivities as flows and markers within the seasonal procession but they are the beginnings not the ends. I think most people see the fixed Western calendar dates as the ends of the festivities. Both me and Alaric see them as beginnings or markers and that is all. I think that is also how my Grandparents and that saw them as there was a steady ramp up and down to Christmas/Easter etc....

And from them I have also come to the conclusion that there is kind of only two seasons for me as well - Summer and Winter - Spring and Autumn are the transition periods. Autumn is the ramp up to Winter but though I used Winter as the name for the season in the darker part of the year I do not believe that the bit normally labeled autumn is less important it is more - that for me they blend and merge and are in essence one.

Looking at fiction produced for Children I find myself thinking that others feel the same - the groupings are always Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter. Maybe this is because I think like a child?

For me "winter cosy" or the making of the safe place or creating the home nest, begins with Harvest - my seasons also do not entirely match our months. Harvest is a nebulous term as food can be pretty much gathered all year round if you know where to look but some times are easier than others and for many things there is a deadline for harvest i.e. before the bad frosts begin. Nature being nature and physics being physics the precise times for these alter ever year. There are variations within years, the Earth's orbit round the sun changes, climate fluctuations, sunspot activities and volcanic eruptions on other bits of our glob all affect it. But roughly speaking it is the end of September or beginning of October.

This is Harvest Festival time it is when I am still foraging but the fruits are getting less abundant and I'm winding down things like the tomato and squash plants. Now begins baking and making time snugged in my home. It is jam, wine - preserves time, I start planning in my head what sort of presents we will give at Christmas. I start to itch for long long walks in the low golden sunshine that bounces off of trees and clouds and seems to be a remembrance of the harsher summer light.

Of course this is also the time when I start to suffer from season light issues - but the thing is with that... it is only an issue with how our society is structured - it actually means I'm kind of more in tune with how things are - I am adapting to the changing light levels and getting ready for the northern reaches semi hibernation.

I start knitting and watching films with the girls, more board games are played, if our fire place was installed properly we'd light fires. We snuggle under blankets as Harvest melts seamlessly into Halloween with vegetables grown and picked (or selected) are strung up or carved into faces to keep the souls and spirits whipping around loose at this quarter turn of our globe away, marking our homes as safe spaces. I light a candle to remember those no longer with us - I think it is a Jewish thing not sure - my Welsh grandmother used to do it.

When I was a kid the nights from Halloween to Bonfire night were filled with listening to ghostly stories around a lit pumpkin until fireworks night sparklers were dumped into the beginning to moulder flesh.

Bone Fire Night contained the mission of checking for hedgehogs in the prepared fires to be - they were normally constructed from someones old wardrobe and a couple of pallets no one wanted anymore. When my dad worked at the timber yard along with a few of our other neighbours lots of wood was found along with scavenge from the local out crop of trees - our "wood". Everyone would bring a few fireworks and we'd go behind the houses, eating burgers and sausages cooked on peoples BBQs not yet packed away from the summer. Sometimes apples and potatoes were cooked in the fire embers for a later meal whilst we toasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. In some ways it was the beginning of the dark part of the year but also the transition and halloween/bonfire week would be the last major use of the outdoor spaces for gathering and eating as the cold began to strike.

It was packing away the remnants of summer time.

The first painful to be outside and true winter event was/is less than a week later - Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday when we would march and sing and lay wreaths and think on war and the horrors within and the making of heros and the breaking of their families hearts. Blood red drops of flowers and later white contrasts mingled and mixed. I used to collect the remnants of poppies with conquers that lay strewn on the ground, one was strung to play multitudes of tournaments, the others were used to repair and create new flowers as the forgotten mutilated remnants of flowers hurt too much - it was as if people forgot what it was all about as soon as the service had finished.

Mists and fogs and frosts, sometimes together, would swallow up our little out crop of London - this still happens here in the Cotswolds too though there are more frosts and the fogs and mists are in patches depending on the ground layout.

Being part of various Choirs and Sunday School meant that most of November was spent in prep for Christmas and now as a workshop leader and crafter this is still very much true and so the seasons slide seamlessly.

Frost makes the air taste of tin and smell of electric sparks, I would make stories up about Jack Frost and how he made all the patterns as I walked to school, I'd tell of the ice dragon who lived under the railway bridge and prove it's existence by the plumes of breath that arose from us in the chill.

Sometimes I got into trouble for scaring my brother and little cousins but that was more with my Mad March Hare at Easter.

Gloves would be sown on strings and hats labeled. We'd feed the goats at the top of our road our playtime crisps so that their breath would warm our fingers.

For a few years which seemed like every year it snowed and settled but that was generally after Christmas Day.

Christmas involved ADVENT and NATIVITY and stories and songs and making things, making so many things and also at my school the Christmas play my favourite being a Chinese story about dragons in the moon and sun.

Glitter covered everything and lights lit up the dark night and candle processions filled the streets and one of my favourites - Santa on a sleigh would come round collecting for children's charities, you'd get a sweet weather you dropped a coin or not, I was often too shy to go up to Father Christmas so a Carole Singer would have to rescue me and give me my sweet.

We'd learn about why we put apples on trees and eat lots of food - the festivities meant visiting family and friends and staying inside with them whilst the world was dark and miserable outside.

There would be Christmas Bazaars and Fetes and Rainham Village would turn into a Christmas Village complete with stag men and a rag-a-tag men dancing and fake snow drifting across the streets. We would have to help at the sausage sizzle. They did a similar thing in May for the Summer but that involved a Maypole and no baskets of fruit.

Later on whilst working on the campsite I discovered the joy of catching the silver dawns often gently tinted of new year mornings, of seeing the trees silhouetted against the weak but trying sun, watching it burn off the mist and reveal subtle rainbows in the dew drops. The barren woods are not that barren and little birds and scurrying animals would say hello. When we lived at The Mill deer would come at dawn to drink, breaking ice in the streams shallow edges.

My uncle would do insane races in water on New Years Day after his epic parties with streamers being set off at mid night and New York and Auld Lang Eye sung badly. Often the parties greeted the dawn with all ages in attendance and left over curry for breakfast.

Christmas for me will always continue to twelve night but it doesn't really end there... there would be little bits of the story still unfolding through January until the beginning of February. Especially as I have a January birthday and we'd have some decorations left for my celebration (yes I'm aware some people consider this bad luck). But then the wise men didn't finish their journey until well after my birthday and they still count as Christmas!

And then for me the change over occurs February 14th with Valentines Day - flowers are peeking, the birds are beginning to change places again. It is transition time to the Lighter Part of the year where I crave the outdoors and make my family live in tents and eat BBQ food and sit in gardens and dig allotments. Feb. is when I start potting seeds up to germinate on the window sills. For me it is the beginning of Spring-Summer I know that for most people it is not.

So that is my seasonal divide - how do others view the changes of seasons?

Working Things Out (by )

Cuddly Science is about the kids engaging and discovering things for themselves - sometimes this leads to "off topic" discovers such as how the magnetism of the earth works when the workshop was about looking at the rocks with the hand lens attached to the compass! These are the best moments though when the child is fully engaged and working things out for themselves and asking questions!

Working out how the world works with Cuddly Science

Plus this is a super cute picture of Mary 🙂 But in all seriousness one of the things I came up against time and again is restricted learning - to keep children focused on the "task in hand" for box ticking rather than it being about the learning process. This is one of the reasons I am sticking to informal education rather than formal - my brain doesn't work like that and though will agree that children including those with ADHD need help to learn to focus often I feel it is detrimental.

I love these moments when the child falls down the rabbit whole of enquiry and you can see their brains actually working things out for themselves - it is AMAZING!

Mad but Lovely Times! (by )

Things have been pretty mad here! There have been Science Festivals, poetry festival, scare acting and a whole host of other things! Last week saw SMASHfest at Gloucester Library which was super super amazing and Cuddly Science had a fab time.

The Wiggly Pet Press launched the Gloucester Poetry Societies first book Poetry without Pretension at the The Gloucester Poetry Festival and Salaric Art and Craft have been out and about doing Upcycling projects and drawing like fiends!

And of course all three of those things are me plus the acting! This last week alone saw me filmed for TV, interviewed for radio and though I wasn't in the photo Cuddly Science was photographed for the newspaper. I have so many photos and things to share and November is looking pretty exciting too with more acting, Christmas craft workshops, archaeology digs, singing, Diversity, literature and poetry Festivals, craft fayres, community outreach and museum gigs! I am no longer taking bookings for 2017 sorry about that but I really am full!

And that's without all the domestic stuff like my hospital appointments and halloween/fireworks events for kids etc... not to mention Nanowrimo and stuff.

Computer Woes (by )

My poor too old to update laptop is once again thwarting me - Etsy is still not working (prob. due to laptop this time), Pinterest is shaky, LinkedIn is crippled, drawing programmes cause regular crashes, FB keeps balking, garageband is now not working and the speakers are crackling like they have half the Sahara in them :/ This is really frustrating as today was the day I was going to finish off the Spoogy Collection on Bandcamp i.e. finally upload the story and the song but that is a def. no go 🙁 Thanks to Patreon and working all the worky stuff I should be able to get a new desk top that can do the graphics and sound stuff in November but.... ARRRRG!

I'm actually pretty hacked off about this - the laptop still functions (bar the speakers which either have got something in them or are on their way out due to Mary liking My Little Pony Thrash Metal mashups and playing them loud and repeatedly in the mornings) but due to the way Apple work it is now obsolete and has been so for ages now. It is too old to get updates so though it works it steadily can't work as it can't support stuff anymore - you'd think this would only be a problem for the web stuff which indeed it is a big problem for - I am slowly watching everything not work quiet right, work a bit and then die or just not work in the first place. I have no GIF bar on FB, I can't have Pinterest buttons installed...

But actually I could get round most of that with my phone interface though it is perilously old now two and is getting to the edge of obsoletion too and that is a great shame because again it works fine!

However my frustration is the automatic updates mean that all the applications are slowly dying on my laptop - iTunes was the first to go, this meant that last year when I put the poetry up for The Book of Spoogy onto Bandcamp I had to do some techno wizardry to get the files I had already made out of iTunes and into a programme my computer could still use and then put it all up on Bandcamp - a simple job that I had already laid the ground work too thus was a complete nightmare and took ages. This year I can't even do that... there is no work arounds that me and Al can find this time - I just can't upload or record new things at the moment 🙁

To me this is horrendous, it is part of driving a wedge between the rich and poor (it is the Robots movie, it is iRobot (yes I know the film wasn't true to Asimov I think we'll be waiting a long time for such a film but I still look forward to it!) but it is also bad for the environment - it is forced obsoletion, it is taking tech and making it not work so that it has to be scrapped - this electronics with their increasingly rare metals making up their components and the chugging fume costs of the PCB factories. They are often sealed units so that when there is a hard ware failure they are almost impossible to fix....

If I was starting from scratch knowing what I know now - I would go Open Source I would go for some sort of UNIX thing... but I am content locked... my stuff is in apple programmes, and due to head injury stuff I kind of want to stick with stuff I know how to use. One good point about the apple stuff is I've always found them far more intuitive to use than Windows machines. I will I think try and have some sort of duel system going so I can wean myself from apple dependence but the next machine is still going to have to be some sort of Mac.

I am highly frustrated at the moment especially as it has basically taken me two years to save up with help (bitcoin yummiiness) for this damn new computer - I still have stuff stuck on an old out of date drive as well - but I had to choose between paying for data extraction on that and getting a new computer so I can continue to work. And that is another rub - there is potentially something we can do to the laptop to make it work nicely again but it might break the laptop and as it is currently my only computer that is most def. a no go. Once I have the desktop we can attempt to salvage the laptop and then I'll have a mobile computer again I can take to coffee shops and write ins and meetings and hackathons and so on - right now I don't really like moving it incase I drop the damn thing - this completely negates the point of it being a laptop!

Yes I've tried using tablets - even with external key boards I think my eyesight just isn't up to long data/word entries on such small screens.

Anyway - just finding the whole damn thing a little chaffing right now! There are so many projects that just need that final push and I can't do the final push because of tech problems!

WordPress Themes

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