The Tangled Tale of My Career (by )

I've been feeling a bunch of despair, boredom and ennui about my career lately; so I've decided to attack it in the way I know best - by writing about it.

When I was little, I wanted to be a scientist. Of course, that wasn't what I actually wanted - but popular media had created this vision of a mad scientist labouring in a lab making weird and wonderful things. I later learnt that what I wanted to be was called an "Inventor", which is a kind of engineer; the application of science to make things - the goal of building a fantastic machine is to get that fantastic machine, not to test some hypothesis. So it's definitely not science.

This was fed, in part, by the reading material I had around the house. My maternal grandparents had been an electrical engineer and a science teacher, respectively, so I had a mixture of O-level science textbooks and old cloth-bound tomes about electrical power distribution networks. Plus, my mother was a science fiction and fantasy fan, so I had stories like E. E. 'Doc' Smith's Lensman books (epic space battles, written by an engineer so tending to linger on the technical details) inspiring me. I saw technology as a way of solving real problems, and I found learning about it fascinating, and the challenges were engaging - and what's even better, I found I had a knack for solving them. The future looked exciting!

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Eve and May (by )

Get Lippy Eve Appeal T-shirt for sponsored walk

It is May, the beginning of May, the beginning of Summer - for some the new year begins now, what ever it is a time of new beginnings... except it is also when Mum was dying, it was an end, a birth to the after life maybe... a something and definitely a transition.

Tomorrow it will have been two yrs, we are only just sorting out her room... only just removing the broken stair lift (it couldn't be fixed metal had sheared off of it), only just paying off some of the stuff that needed paying off. We have only managed any of this with help - we found the roof had been leaking and teenagers swarmed the house and like a little chain of ants took ruined carpet and matrices to a small skip we had out the front. We made them sushi and they stayed to play video games and craft things afterwards - I cried because the teddy bear calendar had been moved - it was still in the configuration my dad had set it too. It had to be moved.

The house moves forward, into a new era, it is once more a big house - Jean has wondered off to University... there are no small children... it is strangly empty and yet not as we have a house full of stray animals... but it is different. Mary likes being able to use the computer more - the entertainment centre is back in the living room and we watch films and play games.

My health has not recovered from miscarriage, covid or looking after mum... but it has gotten better just not as much as I would have liked. And if I was angry about womb stuff before hand I am livid now... we had to go private to get teenage periods that were heavy enough to cause passing out looked at treated in any sort of reasonable time frame... and mum... mum who made sure I knew about periods before I had them because she hadn't and had thought she was dying when her's started... was still too embrassed to tell me she was having some problems in her 70's because everything about wombs and sex and often boobs... problems conceiving, loosing pregnancies, still births, abortion, periods, STDs, AIDS, problems both physical and mental after having a baby and even not wanting babies or sex... all of it is taboo still - all of it is not talked about.

And well I confronted her about blood... she had stage 4 womb cancer... with everything else that was happening it was a drop in the ocean of medical chaos at the time but involved us having to make "interesting" medical decisions, she had already had two different types of breast cancer (no really) which she had beat with operations, radiotherapy and the lighter end of chemo. They told us that it would only be pallative for the cancer but that it was initially advancing quiet slow - the treatments for it in the state she was in would likely have killed her but she was still scheduled to go on the lighter side of chemo etc... as she fought off infections it became aggressive and very quickly spreading. It still wasn't what killed her.

There was genetic testing and a want to stop this kind of thing happening in future - for womb and reproductive system health to stop being shunted to the side. I am sharing all of this with my mum's permission including that though she would never sign a Do Not Resuscitate or ask for no treatment whilst there was hope... she did decided to only take palliative care and go for quality of life over more invasive cancer treatments. I know some people felt this was me allowing mum to kill herself but it really wasn't and all the decisions where talked over endlessly with her and medical professionals. It was also not her only active cancer - she had a slow growing tumour on the adrenal gland.

But all that aside the womb cancer could have been found sooner... and this is the case for many and we don't talk about it... lives are lost needlessly because we won't talk. Before covid I had a set of workshops I had created specifically to try and break these barriers down - the conversations can save lives. Even nurses attending the workshops told me they had suffered and talked about stuff with colleagues or gone to the drs. Stephen Kings mother died because this very thing and that is before we even look at how birth control has been used untested and has its origins in eugenics, or how pain is dismissed as hysteria or aesthetics denied because you managed a vaginal birth so you'll be fine with pain...

This was why I started The Glass Pelvis, and the more I looked the worse it got.

All of this and more is bumbling around my brain - and it is two yrs since mum died, five since dad died and mum basically gave up on life, six since I the miscarriages.

I am a mess, I am still on a crutch... but it is much better than it was... I like to earn medals - you know those race at your own pace type thingies and after mum died I did a Golden Heart challenge with Medal Mad inscribed for her. Then last yr I did the Fogetmeknot medal to remember dad - he always thought he'd be forgotten... ironically or the universe joking with me... I forgot to get the inscription done - Alaric says we can take it and have his name added to it at a shop in Gloucester. I also dragged the family into memorial walks for diabetes, cancer and dementia charities.

This year I have chose Get Lippy 60k in May from the Eve Appeal which is a charity that deals with gynea cancers of which there are five main ones. Womb cancer is of course one of them.

Walking is hard for me and oftentimes painful but there will be dedicated walks for this with live streaming from the me only ones and I am resurrecting my walking group but under the new name Wandering Stars who I plan to walk with on Friday's. I am happy to go visiting country parks and things with people too or do the odd evening if peeps want to join me.

You can of course sponsor me and help raise money for the charity - here is my just giving page:

Gloucester Story Telling Cafe – Stories and Songs For May (by )

Story Telling Songs For May

After last months amazing first birthday bash The Gloucester Story Telling Cafe is hitting it's second yr running with the fabulous Cath Little as guest storyteller and Jessica Law as guest musician. It is very exciting to be able to bring such fantastic artists to Gloucester and to hear everyone sharing!

I can not express the joy it has given me, Jane and Deborah to watch the cafe grow and bloom in this way.

It is the fist Thursday of every month at The Folk of Gloucester a fabulous timber framed building that looks like it is from a fantasy story itself!

Doors open at 7 pm for a 7:30 pm start.

99-103 Westgate Street - just down from the Cathedral and it used to be the Folk Museum and then The Life Museum.

It is pay what you want and as well as our monthly guests we have an open mic - 10 mins max and welcome all forms of story telling within in that so bring you personal anecdotes. flash fiction, traditional tale, shaggy dog story, musical ballard and share!

Node Trees: A model for configuring and managing large distributed systems (by )

(FX: Flashback wibbly wobbly transition...)

So, as a teenager, I started working on ARGON, a distributed operating system. At the time, the CPU cost of encrypting traffic could be a significant matter when communicating over untrusted networks, so I'd worked out a protocol whereby network communications between clusters could negotiate to find the lowest-cost encryption scheme that both parties considered acceptable for the sensitivity of the data being transmitted: more sensitive data would require more secure protocols, which presumably excluded cheaper ones.

But I wanted to do something similar for communications within a cluster; I started with the same idea - finding the cheapest algorithm considered secure enough for the communication at hand. This could be simplified, as all nodes within a cluster share the same configuration, so both will agree on the same list of encryption systems, with the same security and costliness scores; so no negotiation is required - the sender can work out what algorithm to use, and be confident that the recipient will come to the same conclusion.

However, it pained me that highly sensitive data would be encrypted with expensive algorithms, even between machines connected by a trusted network - maybe even right next to each other, connected by a dedicated cable. I wanted a way to be able to, through configuration, tell the cluster that certain links between nodes in the cluster are trusted up to a certain level of sensitivity. Connections at that sensitivity level or below can use those links without needing encryption; anything above would use a suitably trusted algorithm.

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Finding My Voice (by )

This weekend just gone I sang with The Folk Chior at The Folk of Gloucester for the Christmas Makers Market and then on Sunday I went and rehearsed Wintery type festive music shenanigans for the Steampunks Christmas Reveals event which will be this coming weekend. It was difficult as I had missed over a months worth of rehearsals and I don't know how to read music (yes still) so there were challenges for both endeavours but I really enjoyed it and everyone seems to want to include me in the music stuff. I have also been attending the Folk at The Folk jam sessions - normally I just watch but sometimes I bring one of my songs - this time sadly due to a funeral most of the people were missing and they were desperate not to just have the same few people doing songs and so I gave them camp fire songs which most of them seemed to like. I even got recognised by someone later on - an elderly lady who has designated me as The Lady with the Silly Songs - who turned up at the textiles group I have been attending on Tuesdays.

I've even went along to a song writing cafe and attended a song writing workshop in Feburary all be it that I didn't get to stay for most of it due to Mary but such is the life of a parent and I still came out of it with one song, one poem and a spoken word/beatpoem/rap thingy. All this is not exactly new for me - I have been telling people about choirs and groups I have belonged to previously and even about song writing awards and things I received. But I have also been telling people people about all the times I've been told I am crap and not a musician and to take all my music down and so on. It is important I express these things because being neural divergent I still live with the music teacher's harsh words of primary school (I wasn't progressing in recorder because she had started sending sheet music home and not running through all the notes in class especially as there were now multiple types of recorders involved - she hadn't realised I couldn't read music but my mum sent her a letter asking for some extra lessons so I could either learn to read music or be taught the tunes individually - the teachers response was to chuck me out of the group and to act as a bar to me being in the school choir too). I hold all these comments within me - it goes for the triumphs too.

So there is a huge element of finding the confidence and freedom to actually go and do these things - ie if there is an audition I am probably stuffed, and choirs normally charge a membership fee which at points in the past has been too much. The irony of having sung in the Royal Albert Hall but to have been unable to join the village choir... and am dram clubs sinking so the show I actually got through the auditions for never actually happened and I had a good part!

The lists go on but it is not just the confidence - I have had issues with my hearing throughout my life more so since covid and the head injury left me with permanent tinnitus. I have a slight delay with things as I am feeling the music meaning that I may react slightly after everyone else... but I can guess where songs are going and when I say I feel the music I very much mean that on several levels and it can consume me from the core of my bones - vibrating all the way through me. I think I am more aware of sound than many people even with being partially deaf and at a couple of points in my life nearly completely death. I was too good in fact and people didn't realise how much of a problem there actually was with my hearing.

Voice is an interesting thing - I have spent much of my life being told it has to fit in, that I had to get rid of the extra noises or that I sound like a man or conversely am too high pitched. Well I am learning to point those bits back in my voice - I am learning my voice all over again thanks to covid and the graves disease I lost my voice even for speaking for over a year and have had repeated sore throats and of course the ever present choking lump that I just can't quiet swallow past. I no longer have Frightmare to use the stranger aspects of my voice at and actually I want to sing with them. clicks and whistles and purrs and growls and two voices, the undulations and braids of sound.

Also after dad died writing was hard - I would go to cafes and write with him and we would read each others stories and poems we'd written and without that there I have been bereft and when I was looking after mum there was no energy or capacity either mentally or physically - my hands didn't even work properly - all there was was cleaning and washing and phone calls to argue with everyone from hospitals to family about her care. But I have been trying to write, trying to create once more - but who am I on this flip side of everything? I feel I have been shattered so many times I do not know, I don't know what I like, what I want to do and I am now in my forties so all those dreams of carers seem foolish and lost to the tragedy of circumstance. None the less I am trying, I am putting words on paper even if they are just lists of stories I hope one day to write - I am keeping a diary again - or at least trying - it is a chaotic thing but it is beautiful (it cost too much) and I am even adding stickers because I like stickers and they are accents to my feelings and hopes and imagery has always been part of how I communicate - even if it is only with myself.

I went to a poetry writing workshop - I haven't done that for so long - and the woods whisper stories of the wild wood and industries and peoples vanished in time and I want to share that with the world. There is something of a song there trying to form and I feel like writing when I am there.

I am Finding my voice - again... it is both the same voice rediscovered and something wholey new.

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