Category: Lojban

Learning things (by )

I love learning new things. I'm usually struggling to find new things to learn; the last fun bit of computer science I learnt about was Bloom filters, and they didn't hold my attention for long. The last really fun bit of computer science I learnt about would be content-addressed storage, and I'm still having fun with that, but I can't find any more to learn about it. I'm having to make stuff up myself, which is rewarding in its own way, but much harder work.

Of course, this past week I've been learning TIG welding, which has been awesome. It's been a while since a whole new field of things to learn has opened up to me, and it's nice to work on a new class of physical skills. My routine physical learning is my weekly Krav Maga training, but I crave variety. My lust for learning benefits more from intensive two-week courses than an hour a week for years. I'd love to go and take a proper welding course at a college, but I can't spare the time; I have to practice when I can in the evenings and weekends. I'm getting good at horizontal/flat welds, but I'd like to master vertical and overhead (because if I work on anything large, such as the festival trolley, in my cramped workshop, I often can't rotate everything around to be nice and flat). Also, suspecting that the trouble I was hitting with stick welding is at least partly to do with the limitations of my old cheap AC welder, I want to use my new welder's capability to do nicely regulated DC stick welding and see if I can learn to do good stick welds. And I'd like to get some practice in welding aluminium and stainless steel, as I have applications for both of those.

So that's physical skills sorted, for now. Mentally, I've been learning how antennas work. There's no particular reason for this; it's something that's always puzzled me somewhat, but what's triggered the recent interest was a birthday gift from an old friend, of the ARRL handbook, which goes into some detail; and then meeting an interesting guy at a Cheltenham Hackspace Open Evening who turns out to design broadcast transmission antennas for a living, who answered a load of questions left open by the books. I still want to get a better intuitive grasp of the quantities involved - how many volts and amps appear on an antenna feeder line? What field strengths in volts per meter would you expect to find at what distance from an antenna? Does that relate to a corresponding magnetic field strength in tesla?

I've also been learning Morse code. This is quite interesting. I thought I'd memorise that table of dots and dashes and that'd be that, but it turns out that this technique tends to maroon people at slow morse speeds, as they mentally record a sequence of dots and dashes then mentally look it up in the table to find the letter. To get fast Morse skills, which tend to tend towards one or two characters per second, you need to learn to recognise the sound - "di di dah" - as a letter directly. So I've been using a combination of the Farnsworth and Koch methods to learn Morse; growing my "vocabulary" a letter at a time, and using an enlarged inter-character spacing. The latter is because I was tending to find that I'd hear a character, and write it down, but while I was writing it another would have been and gone, which was confusing. I want to reduce that inter-character gap, but I might wait until I've learnt the entire alphabet via the Koch method, so I can mentally be writing entire words rather than concentrating on a letter at a time - with a reduced alphabet, Morse training tends to involve writing down random gibberish (so far, I know M, K, R, U, S and O; at least the old Nokia SMS beep now makes sense to me... di-di-dit dah-dah di-di-dit!). Again, I have no particular reason to learn Morse - I learnt it as a child, but then forgot it through not using it, which had always faintly irritated me. I've often wondered about using it as a crude interface to tiny embedded computers, although it'd be frustratingly slow for most uses. The usual reason to learn Morse is to do CW amateur radio; that's an idea I've toyed with in the past, but being able to talk to random people over radio holds little appeal (I can talk to random people over the Internet much more cheaply and easily). However, I'd be interested in getting an amateur radio licence as a mental challenge, or as a means to some other project that requires radio communications capabilities, so I might go for a course if one comes up at a good time. I'd like to be able to operate a radio transmitter in an emergency situation, too.

I love to learn things, but I feel sad about not using the skills I pick up. Ok, I don't want to use my Krav skills - they tend to involve hurting people, and are only useful when already under danger of harm coming to me or people I'm protecting, which is nothing to be happy about. But I practice welding because want to make metal things. But by no means do I only learn things when I have a need for them; I learn stuff because it looks interesting and the opportunity arises, then I try and find applications. I've already been excitedly thinking about how aluminium welding will simplify the construction of one of my old back-burner projects - making a hiking staff out of aluminium tubing, that has a stack of lithium-ion batteries inside it at the base, a computer with a keyer in the middle so I can interact with it, and a high-brightness LED lantern on the top so I can have a variety of illumination options (white all around, white forwards only, red all around, etc). I had been working out complex systems of brackets and bolts to hold it all together, but TIG welding it would be much easier, neater, lighter, and stronger. Now, I had considered having a button that could be used to strobe the lights for Morse emergency signalling - and the logical next step was to include a co-axial semiconductor laser in the top that could shine a bright beam for signalling in Morse (and, at a pinch, be used to light fires; you can get 2W laser modules off the shelf these days, and all those lithium ion batteries are going to be able to source a lot of power...). So perhaps I should get a ham licence, and make the staff in sections joined together with insulators, and make it be a two-meter band dipole antenna (which is one meter long) with a CW transceiver inside, so it can also send and receive Morse by radio? That might be fun, and not much extra hardware as it'll already have a decent ARM microprocessor inside.

For now, though, I'd better focus on finishing off my server chassis (which I'm building my welding skills up towards), and make a new welding bench (mine is curved, and wobbles because the floor is uneven and the legs are too weak), and do some metalwork that's needed around the house... I'd like to do some more focussed Lojban study, too; right now I'm just picking up vocabulary by looking for words for things I don't know yet when I need them, but re-reading the reference grammar to remind myself of bits I rarely use would be good!

Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair (by )

I took it upon myself to translate the following into Lojban:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I decided I wanted to aim for an idiomatic Lojban translation, rather than a word-for-word translation of the English (which would probably result in quite clumsy Lojban). However, this was a challenge, as it would mean making up new good-sounding idioms for things that I either didn't know, or hadn't actually developed as idioms in Lojban yet!

Here's what I came up with. There's plenty of problems with it, which I'll explain below, in the hope that jbopre will read this and suggest improvements. However, even if you don't know Lojban, please read on; I think you might find the breakdown of it (I give literal English translations of it) interesting:

.i .u'e re lo barda tuple ku se stuzi le cantu'a
.i cpana le canre fa lo se porpi be lo flira
noi .iiru'e lo du'u ke'a frumu ku
     .e lo du'u ke'a tolpluka turni cisma ku
   nibyti'i lo du'u lo zbasu ku pu te smuni
      le se cinmo poi lu'e ke'a za'o renvi
           zi'e poi fu lu'e ke'a xraci'a fi le na jmive
.ije rakci'a fi le zbepi
     fe lu ga'isai mi'e la'oi .ozymandyus.
           .i mi turni lo turni
           .i .a'onaidai ko catlu tu'a mi doi tsali li'u
.i zo'e bi'unai po'o renvi
.i lo .o'ebe'udai pinta canre ku po'o diklo le barda se daspo

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Doh Mummy! (by )

Cheeky Pumpkin

Mary will be three at the end of this month, she tells me off in Lojban if I knock something over etc... she counts and she said her first lojban sentence over the Christmas period.

She has tantrums the like we've never seen with Jean and she screams, she also smiles and is cheeky cute and caring when she is thinking. She loves to look after baby things, dolls, teddies, cats (not entirely sure what the cats make of being tucked in and given toy kittens as their teddies but they let her do it).

She loves climbing sooo much and the little bears I knit her. She is shy of the other children but that is getting better and is part of the reason for going. She's moved up a section at nursery and is ahead an age group for most of their assessments. She is no longer behind on the social ones and has worked out that only certain people understand lojban etc...

She is currently learning colours - she says the correct one in lojban but not in English, she will hold up colouring pencils to me to check the colour and in general does this for objects she doesn't knwo. She is actively learning, seeking and exploring. She doesn't have Jean's patients but has fine motor skills and writes 'snails' as she calls them - these are spirals on paper.

Mary immitates sound really well, from chickens to engines to music, she sings and you know which song it is and she loves the hammond organ. She has opinions on what is good music and at the moment it is sadly Barbie Girl which she asks for and will dance too for hours, on loop.

Potty training... hmmmm somedays she is great others she is just too busy and doesn't want too know. She is naughty, pushing her boundaries and grinning whilst doing so - a contrast to Jeany who tends to accidently do things wrong. Mary says please and thankyou! Sometimes she gets them round the wrong way she has never said ta! Though she knows what it means.

She loves Gromit and Aardman animation in general, though what she really loves is She-Ra! And she holds her sword aloft etc... She will sing the theme tunes to things including the music of Harry Potter etc... enough that other people recognise it.

She is cuddly and clingy and full of character. And it doesn't matter where I had the plough dough - how high or low - she will get it and take it into the rooms with carpet!

Now She is 8 (by )

Jean's actual birthday is hidden at the end of the summer holidays what with her being born on the August bank holiday - so since she has been at school we tend to do her party in September once she is firmly back at school other wise people forget!

So this year for her actual birthday we went to the Library and had a picnic and went hedgerowing.

Apple muncher

We bought the picnic from the Co-Op in order to get more tokens for Mary's Banana toy before the offer ends and then sat and eat it on the grassy bit by the library (think it belongs to the community centre).

Sisters at a birthday picnic outside the library

Me and Mary sang happy birthday though I have to confess Mary continued with 'clack sheep star!' so not the best rendition ever and she kept saying it was her birthday and 'NO Jean! Mine!' etc...

We went into the library for the putting back of 10 books and the getting out of 14 (just for Jean) and settled in for the creepy crafts that go with the reading challenge they had over the summer known as Creepy House.

Jean and Mary making things as part of the creepy house reading challenge

Jean finished the reading challenge weeks ago! We have not been able to keep up with her book habit at all - we have tried to encourage more factual books but she's not interested at the moment - she says she wants to be a writer. I pointed out you need to read factual books for that as well which made her pause and she asked me what factual books I was reading and we got talking about tudors and bees and things and she made me do yoda impressions all the way to the library and she mentioned the fact that Yoda and the seer woman in The Dark Crystal sound the same etc... It was a fun outing.

Both of them made bats and got their photos taken for the newspaper - not this photo though that is one of mine.

Jean and Mary with their bats at Hucclecote Library

And she has also decided she wants to do blogging so here is her first book review over on Orange Monster (that being the kids book and illustration blog so it seemed fitting).

Click here to read it 🙂

Oh and she is getting crushes - she babbled at the 16 yr old at the library about languages for ages - confusing him with Lojban 😉

Creativiti Tea – Summer (by )

This weekend we hosted the second ever Creativiti Tea which was quiet frankly epic - though the actual event was on the Sunday the first person arrived Friday evening all the way from London! Two more arrived on Saturday when the BBQ ended up being cooked under the grill whilst Alaric did various bits of his programming projects and began work once again on the furnace.

Creativi Tea

We played board games and Jeany got an early birthday present which was Dr Who Monopoly!

The Games Master

Girls playing Dr Who Monopoly

I baked cakes (they are never as good as Al's ones and I was a bit out of practice with the icing!) - including mini vegan banana bread with red currents (these are from my parents garden I planted a red current stem when I was 13 and now they have taken over the garden - I am attempting to find more things to do with them than make jelly!).

Cakes! Creativi Tea

rose cakes for Creativi Tea

mini vegan banana bread

Then at 10 am Creativi Tea began properly. Mainly we were writing - I personally wrote about 3000 words, we had people working on novels, poetry, short stories and more!

Writing at Creativi Tea

In the kitchen glueing and sticking were a foot.

sticking on rhine stones at creativi tea

Along with bead work - ankle bracelets seemed to be the thing.

Beading at Summer Creativi Tea

Then there was sewing - mainly cat nip mice from old cloths - the cat nip was home grown by our friend Charlee.

cat nip mouse made by Jean and Charlee

Tom puss at least loves the cat nip mouse!

Tom puss finding a cat nip mouse

And I mean he really loves it!

I loves my cat nip mouse

A teddy bear was cut out and partially sewn together and the beginnings of a ball were started.

upcycled teddy bear cut out and ready to sew

Music crept in with the odd bit of laptop composing and the Hammond Organ getting switched on 🙂

music at Creativi Tea

I sold £15 worth of books for Shelter (the books will be there until Christmas if anybody else is interested).

Book sale for Shelter

And we showed Charlee how to make sushi.

Sushi making at Creativi Tea

We geeked and created and played games and laughed and drank lots of tea 🙂 I am looking forward to organising the Autumn Creativi Tea which will also be my book launch! And also my friend Claire gave me the most beautiful roses 🙂


Oh and Jean's butterfly garden produced a butterfly 🙂

Tortoise Shell Butterfly

We had lots of fun and Alaric seems to have gotten one of our friends into learning Lojban - which had us all thinking about actual meanings of our names - turns out there is an older meaning for Sarah than princess - essence or core, pure centre... etc. I love finding out new things 🙂

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