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Ada Lovelace Day 2015 (by )

Hot melt glue ada pendant

Ada Lovelace was a victorian lady who loved maths, she was also the astranged daughter of Lord Byron the poet, she has a computer programming language named after her and a day... the day is to celebrate women in science and technology. A chance to tell their stories.

Me and Alaric have written quiet a few stories of women who have inspired us or we feel are essential to where our current modern tech and meds are.

We have covered innovation, science, engineering, computing, medicine and technology. We love reading the stories that pour onto twitter each year.

But... that is not what I want to talk about today - not the successes but the struggles. As one of the most dangerous thing is not being allowed to fail.

If you are the role model, or figure head, or just in an environment where some aspect of you like gender or race or disability is highlighted continually and you are fighting to maintain your position... there is no room to fail, no space to just step back and go "you know I could use a little help here" because as soon as you do that it becomes because of that difference that marker, that things that makes you not one of the boys. And all those who have helped you and believed in you will be let down.

But if you can't fail, can't ask for help without undermining your own position then you can not progress as smoothly or easily and when the stakes are high it adds to the stress.

Because failure becomes not a little set back but a full blown retreat - a being chucked out the door.

When you can be a lousy scientist and it's just because you are lousy (or need more training) and not because of your gender, orientation, disability... - then equality isn't reached - until then it is just another stress to add to catastrophic collapses and retreats from the world of science and tech feeding the "leaky pipeline" we hear so much about i.e. why there are less and less women as you go higher and higher in science and tech even though the numbers are up and have been up for a decade or more at the lower ends like A'levels and undergrad degrees.

This is one of the reasons I actually hate quotas (I am not saying they are not needed) - I've seen good arguments for them but my personal experience of them has been being told I am not actually good enough - "you're only here because you tick three different boxes, you fill three quotas" this is crushing and if you are not careful it makes you feel that perhaps you really do not belong. You try and hide what subjects you are struggling with rather than just getting help with them and if you didn't "tick the boxes" then it would be fine to ask for that help - ask for it whilst being one of these groups and get told "this isn't the place for someone like you" and you end up having to threaten legal stuff and that just makes it all extra stressful. And how do you know you if you were good enough to get in?

Cheer yourself up with some of my puppet comedy involving Ada (not for kids this one!).

Also I made pendants, and key fobs and badges using the pictures of Ada I had drawn and hot melt glue straight from the gun! They are not the best - they were the first attempt at this technique but the girls loved them 🙂

Ada Lovelace picture cut out Ada lovelace picture flipped over and ready for hot melt glue Ada Lovelace drawing embedded half in hot melt glue resin Ada Lovelace beads and plaques made with hot melt glue

I was going to do cake but am saving that for the actual Bicentinnial in December.

Ada Lovelace pendent made with hot melt glue and fine liner

There is also a colouring in sheet people are welcome too, which I produced last year.

And yes I am grumpy - I never felt as if I'd left science, I felt like it was taken away from me and worse that I had let down those who had invested in me. I actually dread trying to talk to those people again but life is crock full sometimes. Maybe one day....

Puppets and Books and Language – Oh My! (by )

First off I am running a kids workshop at The Cheltenham Poetry Festival, it costs £5 and there will be stickers and monsters 🙂

I've been stupidly busy lately:

Today I am getting ready to run a workshop on puppetry, for this I am mainly using my Cuddly Science Crew plus a dragon and rabbit that were bought and not made and designed by my mum and me. I am hoping the Ada puppet is going to get lots of outings this year as it's Ada's 200th birthday so she needs to have outings really.

Ada has already had a couple of outings this year - including Science Show Off which was videoed - this was my grown up only show so the vid is not suitable for children!

My performance is still not top notch but when I think of my first Science Show Off verses this one there is just such a huge difference!

In part that is due to the lovely Joy-Amy Wigman and her Cuffing It course that I did in the autumn. Realising that I am still so damn shy and that my stage craft really needs to be better if I am going to be taking Cuddly Science out more, I went for the thing that scares me most - Improve Comedy.

The course was a huge confidence booster and has just given me a few little extras to fill gaps with extra when I forget words or can't read my script (yes I should have had it memorised but I didn't!).

Regardless of my performance everyone seems to love the puppets - they really really do and the responses on twitter when ever she appears is amazing 🙂

Me and mum are planning on starting on the next five puppets over the summer even though I failed to get the funding I hoped would pay for their construction.

But enough about puppets!

I am also in a Dr Who anthology called You and Who Contact Has Been Made Vol 2 😀 And it is all shiny and new and released 🙂

Now it's not Dr Who stories but more essays on how Dr has impacted on mine and the other writers lives. I really enjoyed writing this and it is the beginnings of what I call my Coop de Who. After all if I don't start writing stuff about Dr Who how can I write an episode/series with Alaric as the Dr (or maybe the evil mastermind villian)?

I failed to get the traditional publishing stuff I was aiming for in more mainstream areas, that some of you knew I was working on at the beginning of the year. There were several, they all fell through, was I dishearted? Yes of course, but there has been plenty of other stuff to snap me out of it.

This morning I wrote a short story of 2000 words and this month I am working hard on scripting and/or story boarding a comic book series based in my Punk Universe - now even Alaric is nagging me to get the stuff out there and soon there will be a novel cover release I promise.

I'm in a submission fug, I keep meaning to and then forgetting and that can not continue - it's an issue I have with rejection and it is a cycle I can't afford to get into. Fortunately the script writing challenge has helped somewhat and I even had Neil Gaiman respond to a tweet question on comic book writing and that was most helpful.

Part of the issue is that I get Monday's and Friday's to do child free work - until 3 pm. They are also the days I have for Drs Appointments, meetings and driving lessons plus I find I just have to blitz the house a bit to keep ontop of the weekly mess/make sure I'm not hunched over the desk all day.

This is actually working really well but there I was fretting that I had only done 15 pages on my one completely clear lets sit down and do it day. Turns out Neil only did 4 pages on a good day, this made me feel a lot better and then conversely worried about quality - how had I whacked out that number of pages? They must all been ....meh - I'd done a lot of research during the day as well.

But then as Mary helped me garden and clean and count chickens and Jean helped me build cold frames and there were jujistu and climbing clubs and muddy shoes lost in bogs and baths and nitt treatments I began to think - no this is just how I've found a way to work. I am still working on my art and stories and science when I am not at a desk. It tumbles around my head and sometimes I have to text Al the idea I've had and sometimes I let it sink to see if it will bob up to the surface again.

So walking Mary her toddler climbing I came up with the premiss for the story I wrote this morning. Yesterday she was a bit under the weather so I did stuff with her until about lunch time when she had a little bit of a temperature and I calpolled her and put a film on and just sat next to her with my sketch pad working on the comic book. I got 20 pages done - I got 20 pages done because a) the girls like my stories and b) I'd already prepared dinner ready for the oven and c) I'd spent the 3 days since Monday thinking and planning how it was all going to go and looking up little bits of info on my phone and discovering I have voice memo!

And that leaves language - Mary is being brought up as bilingual with lojban - this is known to my friends as geek esperanto and is a constructed language made using mathematical logic to form the grammatical structure and waitings of sounds from the 6 most widely spoken languages. Alaric is learning it, he was not far enough ahead with it to teach Jean from birth but he was for Mary.

Jean is picking it up too, I am picking it up and Jean's friends are picking it up though this has lead to the concept of Mary Lojban. Jeany was asked by one of her teachers if it was a real language and wanted to take some info into school on it. Ages ago now I was working on Mother Lang and her farm which includes a Lojbani Chicken. The girls love these characters so we threw together a little introduction explaining what a natural and a constructed language is and what types of constructed languages there are.

I popped Mother Lang on the front and Lojbani Chicken on the back saying {shoi} and Jean took it shyly to school whilst moaning that it is not actually a language prima.

Mother Lang

We will pop the actual leaflet up too - it is currently just in English. I need to get on and do some more stuff with this as Mary is learning fast - Mother Lang was drawn to teach Mary the lojban and English for things like eyes and nose. Al is nagging me to get the colour flash cards made but we had a linguistics disagreement on what a colour actually is (only in my household!).

So whilst I actually go and do some work - here is a cute video of Mary being lojban.

Two Weeks of Chickens! (by )

The dino pack

To weeks of chickens and they are producing between 1 and 4 eggs a day with an average of just below two a day. We have had one more soft shell which is a shame but they all seem healthy and have the good food and vits etc... They are simultaneously malting and growing their feathers back at the same time!

Ex-battery chickens regrowing feathers

They are becoming cheekier and keep sneaking into the kitchen when they think no one is looking - I am now of course writing a story for Jean and Mary about it!

Chicken at the back door knocking to come in

They are also trying to enclude the rabbit in their peaking order - his response is to bound away and huffling sit in his run so we are making sure he gets some quality non chicken time in the garden - he on the other hand does run up and start sniffing at them and tries to get into their run so it is not a one sided thing.

Chicken and rabbit 2 bunny not convinced the plastic balls aren't the chickens eggs chicken and rabbit bunny in the ash pit

The kitten watches them out of the kitchen door forlornly and even tries to pounce them with a run up leading to thumps and yowls as her head hits the glass! I let the chickens in to see what would happen and they flapped at her and she went and hid!

Damn force field in the way of Lithium and her lunch aka the back door

Of course the great escape onto the decking appears to be facilitated by a certain 2 and a half year old who opens gates!

The great chicken escape helped by the gate opener!

Oh and given the chance I think she would move in with them!

Mary has found Chickens Chicken on the gate Mary moving in with the chickens

Though she does announce they are naughty for pooing as it is not in a potty (the litter tray being the kittens potty you see).

Doggie really wishes she hadn't eaten those skittles!

Our chicken egg tracker is almost ready for everyone to see 🙂 And we've been planning on building the bigger run/avery sooner rather than later (I don't do chicken shit on the decking ok - just no).

Beady eye

Also I am finding that even on miserable days I am spending more time outside - there has only been one day when I was feeling really bad pain and fatigue wise that they didn't get let out of the run straight away when we got up and Al went and delt with it anyway and I still got to feed them and round them up. Alaric also seems to be enjoying the jet washing of the run once a week.

These are not my eggs!

And Jeany is going to have a birthday party (yes I know her birthday was actually last month but well..) where all the cakes are made with home grown eggs 🙂

chicken settled down in the grass

It turns out chickens like to sunbath - if it gets sunnier I will need to put sunblock on their bald bits!

No it is not sunny enough to put sunblock on me now go away and let me be humin!

So yeah we are still happy happy with our chickens 🙂

I'll show them that chickens don't fly! Chicken on the gate 2 Felix on the chicken ramp

The cats are still making up their minds - the chickens seem to be winning the great stare down comps!

The chicken cat kitchen show down

My Little Explorer (by )

All packed up and ready to go!

Mary loves getting herself ready for outings.

I'm off on adventures Mummy!

She knows we take supplies, like blankets and picnics and of course a walking stick!

Little spotty explorer

Protected: Sleep Over Time! (by )

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