New Years and Slither Moons (by )

Moon, Birds and Morning Star

It is the 7th of January and not the 1st - this year I specifically didn't push myself to blog, post, reply to emails or even write in my diary. The intensity and exhaustion of Christmas meant that I wanted and needed to spread things out. So that is what we have done.

New Years Day we did our walk to welcome the New Year - something I did not manage last year and that too is ok. It was a dreary dark day but there was fire and lights and beautify in the glome. I have already formulated some of the pictures into a twitter poem. And will hopefully get around to posting all the worthy pics - a lot are blurry due to light levels but are keepers due to the compositions and thoughts had whilst taking them!

For know here are the embedded tweets:

Then I woke on the 2nd to crippling period and a beautiful down of moon slither, morning star (Venues) and birds flying here there and everywhere. I wish it was a better picture but it was a grab and snap before camera battery died with no time for tripods. The image was stark and dynamic, ancient and new and I felt I needed to capture it as a memory.

2018 was an up and down year with AMAZING things like the Aethelflead Festival and being involved with so many festivals and activities - finding out about family history etc... but it was also HORRENDOUS with miscarriage aftermath, another miscarriage, deaths of family members and hospitalisations of others - friends going through hard times and feeling powerless to help - this is the double edged sword of being from a large extended family and having so many wonderful friends. There is much love but also lots of pain - I can't and wouldn't choose not to love or care but sometimes it downs you.

I got to do more acting in 2018 and would like to do more of that in 2019, I also made and created lots of things but didn't complete stuff that should have been completed - not sure if that can be remedied in the coming year - all I can do is try. Already having ideas to try out.

There will be a big push for the publishing and writing side of what I do in the coming year. There are several large projects that have been simmering on back burners that will hopefully get to bloom (mix those metaphors baby!).

But I am not tying the year down to have toos because I can't and it if I try it will just lead to misery. I have put on a lot of weight this last year - I am attempting to shift it - it may take a while it might not be doable but general fitness I can try and sort. I just wish I had more energy in the first place - there is so much I want to do and feel stifled by the restrictions. Jean is helping me - there is apparently an app for everything. Already seen how much my periods affect my strength which was interesting - it was very marked.

Attempting less Facebook but more blogging, twitter, Pinterest etc... I really don't like FB but am tied to it but the fact that many people only interact/contact me via it. I will probably fail at this and end up posting every five mins!

Craft wise there are a lot of projects to finish off, and lots of photos to sort, and picture to draw/scan and music to make (actually practicing some of the instruments I have would be a start).

I will get around to making a proper plan for it all but probably not until my birthday weekend. And talking of birthdays this year is Alaric's 40th so there will have to be something major for that - I am looking forward to theming some sort of get together but he is dallying!

Oh and we have a new kitten - Potassium - she needed rehoming after the council did their Tennent checks and arrived on Christmas Eve much to the children's delight especially Mary who had quiet literally been praying for a kitten!

I will try and submit more work this year and look forward to growing more things at the allotment - issue currently being that the mild weather means the beans that should be coming up late Feb decided to germinate - not sure they will survive but have so far.

So I am heading off into this new year with some trepidation but a good scoop of hope too.

Slither Moon and Morning Star

Sharing is Caring, but Resharing is Poison (by )

I've noticed a trend that has led me to develop a theory.

It's widely said that social networks start off fun and then decline; I've usually hard this attributed to some combination of (a) all your colleagues, family, and former schoolmates joining or (b) it "becoming mainstream" and a rabble of ignorant masses pouring in.

This implies an inevitability - such environments are fun when they're occupied by an exclusive bunch of early adopters, but if they're fun they'll become more popular, and before long, they'll be full of Ordinary People who Ruin It. Good social networks are, therefore, destined to either to be ruined by going mainstream, or die out because they never take off.

I disagree. The elitism inherent in that viewpoint is a warning sign that it's a convenient and reassuring fiction, for a start; and I have an alternative theory. As you may have guessed from this post's title, I think that the provision of a facility to reshare (retweet, repost) other's content with a simple action is a major contributing factor to making a social network descend into a cesspit of fake news and hate.

Back in the early days of Twitter, most of the tweets were things that people had typed out themselves. Many of them were links to other things, but doing that required manually copying the URL and pasting it into a tweet, and most people added a word or two of commentary when they did so.

But Twitter these days is dominated by retweets. In a quick survey of the current tops of my various Twitter timelines, I saw 7 retweets and 5 original tweets. I see less of what my follows are doing, and more of what my follows are liking about what others are doing.

As these centralised social networks are advertising companies, this is a desirable state of affairs for them, for at least two reasons:

  1. Single-click resharing means that content can spread virally across the platform, getting seen by millions of people in a very short timeframe. This is attractive to advertisers, so the network can make money selling tools to help them encourage this, to track the spread of content, and to generally spread the idea that their network is a place where things spread quickly and influence culture.
  2. A big part of their business model is to better profile their users, so they can sell targeted advertising. It's harder for a computer to analyse your prose to learn about you (bearing in mind you might use complicated linguistic tricks such as irony) than to just see if you click a button in response to something or not. The algorithm might not be entirely clear on the meaning of the content you've just reshared, but it now knows that you have something in common with the four million other people who also reshared it; and cross-referencing that with other information it holds about you and them is a powerful predictive tool.

But that same ability for things to rapidly spread is the driving force behind:

  1. The rapid spread of fake news; tools designed to help advertisers are easily adopted with people wanting to control our minds for reasons even worse than mere financial gain.
  2. Hate storms, when something gets widely shared between a community of people who hate the behaviour implied by the original content; who then all respond angrily to it within the social network and often, due to the amplified feeling of communal hate and the wide reach bringing it to the attention of unhinged and morally dubious people, leading to crimes being committed against the target as "revenge".
  3. A decreased sense of community, due to seeing more and more content from outside your group. Interacting with the social networks becomes more like watching TV than sitting chatting with your friends.

I think the elitist complaint that social networks go wrong when they "go mainstream" and "the normals come and ruin it" is really just a misguided attempt to put the lingering feeling embodied in that last point into words.

Looking back at the original decentralised social networks such as email, Usenet and IRC, they all lacked a single-click "reshare" facility - but some of the criticisms of email and usenet (excess crossposting, forwarded chain emails) both come down to it still being a bit too easy to share things across community boundaries. IRC escaped this.

I think there's no reason a social network can't scale to cover the planet without becoming a cesspit - but I suspect that making forwarding content on too easy is a great way to drag it down the pan.

Shooting Stars (by )

Last night I watched the Geminid Meteor Shower - my great Aunt died the morning before and I feel isolated and cut off from the family that surrounded me as a child - she was the last link I had to that really - to that older generation - we all knew she was ill and in her 80's but somehow it still sliced as a knife and I cried and I wasn't sure weather I was crying for her or crying for my nan or the child that was or something else but I just remember all her jewellery and sitting around the kitchen table and darting between hers and my nana house - they were in the council houses at the base of the tower blocks and my great gran was just over the road in the old peoples home and sometimes we'd all go and see her and take her food.

This year has had death and life in it sometimes that spell in-between did not even get to birth. And I am dwelling, the sorrows piling up and threatening to drown me and an apathy is calling as I see the pain once more of those who chose to leave transferred and intensified in those who they have left behind.

So many things to worry about and I can't seem to help stem the tied of hurt and pain and death, I am still trying but the trying is getting harder.

I made mulled cider, hot apples and chocolate milks of varying temperatures and invited people round - they were already invited but I enhanced and kept it that way so as not to disappear into a ball of misery. I had canceled the plans of the previous day as a void yearned and pulled at me and the tears poured from my eyes with both intensity and numbness and there was just me in a pool of warmth that I know was my husbands arms but I did not really see him.

And so I had to make sure we still did something so we watched the stars, my little ice gems of twinkling sky that I know are hotter than fire and ring like bells and the shooting stars are rocks that I love the crystal patterns of and the ripples of cold melt that coat their surface once they have - if they ever do - reach the ground.

When I came to try and write all of this, to share with others what the night of light smudged night was like, it came as a poem.

I watched the shooting stars with my family and friends, there were a few around at in the early evening though the youngest grew bored. The meteors were glorious later on - everyone else had buggered off including my family to great Morpheus or sleep or a warm bed at least - so it was just me and bits of burning rock from space and the mortality pain hit - all of this wonderfulness often over ridden by pain and anguish and all that getting to know the world and just as life fits like a well fitting shoe no long giving blisters - whoompf you are gone to goodness knows where - maybe riding the back of those steaks of light or sitting with the sky daddy, or to be cradled by the arms of Gaia or just a nothing.

I watched the shooting stars remembering that like me they too were star dust and named them after the loved until I ran out of names and then I beheld the others as the lost ones I could not or did not want to know, held them as the sorrowful lonely deaths because though we all ultimately face death alone some of us have to face life on our own in desolation and that is a bone chill blood curdle of a thing that slices at the very humanity of us.

I watched the shooting stars and they reflected in my tears for the losses of this and all years and tears of gratitude at the wonders and spectacles and love that those same years have also brung. I watched the sky rocks blaze. And then folded strips of paper to glow in the dark as wishes, they were of course what we have decided is a star shape though it is pointy and not spherical. Tonight again I will watch the shooting stars.

Periods and Political Dreams (by )

Womb of DOOM is giving me periods where I can hardly walk for sharp pain along the base of my c-section scar combined with a mix of heavy clot loss and headaches - they are not heavy heavy like in the past but to be honest the first day is full of contraction pains where I am struggling - I am hesitating to call them bad - I'm a little nauseous but am not throwing up or passing out etc... and it's only lasting like this for about a day so I suppose they are an over all improvement? But people panic if I double over sweating and I myself am not sure how much will... er... flow with each contraction like pain so this is my third proper period since the last miscarriage and I have a fever and am struggling to walk... hence I am not going into town for my business networking event and am very relieved it didn't hit me when I had a workshop or performance as it it is exhausting to try and still function and hide the pain. As I said I've had far worse periods but the pain tended to be at a stead level not whamming me and retreating so I forget about it and then whamming me again.

In other period news - I've been using a lot of pads due to irregular bleeding since Mary was born (almost 8yrs ago now) and sometimes they make me sore and I end up have to just use cloth when lightly spotting. Then whilst going through old diaries I discovered that I'd planned to make cloth ones for use at home before I had Mary but then my bleeding was so ridiculous and then I had the head injury... yada yada yada... that I forgot. Upshot of this I don't have to make my own or ask my mum too - they make them these days in multipacks - so I have bought a set and we shall see - not sure how they will handle fist fulls of black jelly but then my normal (the most absorbent ones I can get and the longest) fail with that one.

Also I am getting fever dreams for the three or say days before the period hits along with night sweats :/

Last nights fever dream - I was trying to mediate between May and Corbyn with all the politicians/MPs watching in a kind of Roman amphitheatre but it wasn't working very well so I gave them all the friendship bracelets I'd made and took them to a larp/cosplay/gaming event where I lost them amongst all the teenage uni students - then I gave all my left over bracelets to my friend Layla (probably should mention she is a Lib Dem MP) and promptly realised I was wearing no trousers and someone had stuffed my children in the back of a lorry and I had to go and rescue them and all the others and then had lots of kids I had to try and find homes for/return to their homes because there wasn't any children services or police. May insisted on shaking my mothers hand whilst she sat bemused on her mobility scooter and it all got very awkward. Really really not sure what was going on with this on :/

autocorrect changed LARP (live action role playing) to lap as in lap dancing 0.o

Last Minute Workshop! (by )

Tomorrow Salaric Craft will be doing the Creative Take Over at the BlackFriers Hub in Gloucester - Wed 5th December 2018. Wednesday is their normal creative take over with workshops and co-working space and of course free biscuits!

I have been looking for spaces to run my Upcycled Christmas Workshops which are free with donation bucket and they have Kindly stepped forward asked me to host!

And host I shall - I am bringing with me ink stamps, pens, crayons for rubbings etc.... and a big roll of recycled packing paper for turning into your very own custom wrapping paper and also.... bits to make upcycled cards and name tags 🙂

If anybody else in the Gloucester area would be interested in this workshop then please ping me a message 🙂

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