Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Time to start again

I last posted here almost exactly three years ago. I stopped not by conscious decision but by not knowing what to write about. The last post was made around the time I found out I was pregnant, and that took up pretty much all my spare head space. It has taken a very long time for me to be able to properly address other matters and give them the time they need.

I’ve been thinking for some time I should re-start this blog, and have recently been given several ideas for what to write about. So if this still comes up in anyone’s feed anywhere, watch this space!

Today’s The Day

In a few days time will be International Women’s Day. Excuse me? What’s that? We need a special day to remind people we exist? Have we not moved on from needing this kind of positive discrimination? So far as I can see, it being International Women’s Day will make no difference. Will I get a card? Will the female driver jokes stop? Will the invisible barriers to women in various careers and hobbies suddenly disappear? Will any of the oppressed women of the world get any increased respect and recognition on or because of this day? No, of course not – for one thing, it’s far too broad a subject to be of much use in specific situations. We have an entirely pointless Special Day just to hang around and devalue all the meaningful Special Days. Well, I can’t say that I feel particularly Special.

Yesterday was St David’s Day. Here is a Special Day with some history and at least some meaning. Hurrah for all the Welsh people celebrating their heritage, and hurrah for the Christians remembering their history.

The Specialness of recent days that means most to me, however, is that on 1st March, it was Self Injury Awareness Day. This day is important because self injury is very misunderstood, and if its existence can help people understand a little better, then it is a good thing. People assume that if you’re going to cut yourself deep enough to bleed, there is something fundamentally wrong with you and you’re going to cut yourself deep enough to die. Over the years I’ve known a few people who have self harmed. I know from having been around them that it is not a mental illness, it is not just teenage angst, it is not a failed suicide attempt and it is not, in and of itself, a problem – it is a coping technique. They don’t do it for kicks and giggles, they do it because they feel driven to do it by some other, underlying issue. Sometimes, the emotional pain inside is easier to deal with if it’s translated into physical pain outside. So if you discover that someone you know has deliberately hurt themselves, don’t act shocked and horrified, don’t run for an ambulance, and don’t assume that they’re going to do any serious damage. Instead, be prepared to listen and try to understand what’s behind it. You might find their reasoning surprisingly rational.

Paper Penguins

It’s amazing what you can find going through old boxes of stuff. This time, among the memories, tat and assorted stuff, I found a mini origami kit. I can now make origami penguins. I expect paper penguins will suddenly appear all around me as I practice my new fold, and soon I shall have a small army of them. I doubt any of them will dance, though.

It seems so. For years we common folk have been copying music privately for personal use – from putting LPs onto tapes to putting our CDs onto iPods, all so we can listen to what we think we own instead of having to pay for the same thing two or three times over. This seemingly reasonable act is, under current UK law, a criminal activity. But it seems that is set to change. Following the Gowers Review, the government has been considering various potential tweaks and changes to the law, and today they responded to a related petition on their new E-Petitions site. They are “currently considering how such an exception should be created in UK law” and their whole (if brief) response can be found here. I will watch with interest how this small victory plays out, and wonder what others we may see.

STFU

Dave Neary’s post got me thinking. There’s a huge amount of truth in the open letter he linked to has a lot of truth in it. I’ve been thinking about the people who dominate the LUG meets I’ve been to. All of the people who spring to mind are men. Now, partly, this is due to the simple numbers game – there have been more men than women at every LUG meet I’ve been to. However, I don’t think it’s just that – even when there are women present in reasonable numbers, they generally take a quieter role. A lot of what that letter goes on to say is about formalising processes in meetings that are designed to achieve something. I got to two kinds of LUG meet – serious ones with a proper speaker, and social events.

At the serious ones, the speaker has always been given the respect they deserve and have generally been allowed to conduct the meeting as they see fit, but there have been occasions when one person (invariably male) has decided that they need to say almost as much as the speaker. Sometimes it’s purely because that person is particularly interested, and therefore asks questions and allows the speaker time to answer. Sometimes it seems to be because they like the sound of their own voice. I’m not sure there’s a huge amount I can do to help that directly, given anything I might do is likely to be seen as either me being a whinging woman or being just as bad as the guy trying to take over. Hopefully if people take a look at that letter and think about things they might not be that person in future.

The social events are a different breed of animal. They seem to suffer more from one or two men dominating the discussion – perhaps because they can get away with it as they have no speaker to rein them in. These events I think maybe I can do something about. None of the people who spring to mind that dominate these gatherings (and I think you know who you are) do it on purpose, and I doubt they even realise they’re doing it half the time. They also do want to hear what others have to say, you just have to fight to get their attention first. I know none of them will be at all offended at me saying “Oi! STFU!” and therefore that’s what I’m going to do. So if you’re at a LUG meet and I say that to you, it’s probably because you’re winding me up by talking over people and not letting someone else get a word in edge-ways. Please take it as it’s intended – STFU and let someone else have a turn.

I knew we were going on holiday, I knew when we were going and I knew where we were flying from. I didn’t know where we were going until I saw the luggage tags being put on at check-in. So what did we get up to on holiday? Why looking at computers in museums, of course!

The National Museum is so huge we got lost several times and had to go back a second day. It’s got an enormous permanent exhibition charting the history of Denmark from about 1000 to 2000, and featuring a lovely old IBM with nasty green-on-black burn in towards the end. It also had a temporary exhibition entitled The World Of Tycho Brahe. The man was the ubergeek of his day – he designed and constructed many of his measuring and calculating devices, proved that the planets orbit the sun, and took the observations that enabled his assistant, Johann Kepler, to prove that Earth was just another one of those planets.

Another Danish ubergeek of his time was Jens Olsen, designer of the World Clock that is house in Copenhagen’s City Hall. It is a truely beautiful piece of precision engineering, with delicately engraved facings and such fine gearing that it is reckoned to loose 0.4 seconds in 300 years. It goes far beyond “clock” and well into the realms of analogue computing.

Another day, we took the train to Sweden (a concept I still find a bit odd), and spent our time playing with scientific toys and crawling through the U3 submarine at the Science and Maritime museum. We also spotted some graffiti that made us smile:

Malmo Graffiti

Five Pointless Facts

Browsing through various stuff, trying to come up to speed with things after a week of limited access followed by a week in a foreign country, I noticed that Jono had tagged me to do a meme. I don’t think I’ve done a meme on here before, but this looks like an interesting snapshot of who someone is, so here goes:

I keep two blogs. Until about August last year, I didn’t keep a blog at all. Then at LRL, the whole Women In Open Source thing caused far more of a storm than I was expecting, and Jono convinced me to start a blog to be put on Planet Advocacy, so that’s where this came from. However, I have a large number of friends across the country (and beyond) who keep in touch via LiveJournal. I eventually relented and got myself an account so I could lurk on their blog, but ended up being sucked into it myself. If anyone is interested in finding this other blog, which is mostly memes and rubbish and not very much serious content, then I’m sure they already have enough information to go find it.

I’m a pagan. At least, in the broadest sense of the term, and following my own path. I’ve always been convinced that there’s something beyond what science can understand, but it took me a long time to put a name to him/her/it/them. I eventually decided that no name could possibly sum it all up, and that every religion probably had some of it right – especially as most of them seem to teach the same basic ideals of being a good person and looking after each other. Thanks to a long, and continuing, consideration of such things, I came to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s far to big for me, a mere human being, to fully understand, and that even if there’s only one of it, it’s almost certainly quite capable of taking on any number of different faces. So I call it/him/her/them whatever name seems appropriate at the time, although I’m generally more comfortable with some of the pagan gods and goddesses than the Christian type. It hasn’t complained yet, and indeed everything that seems to go badly wrong has always turned out right, so I guess whatever it is is quite happy with my take on things.

I’m overweight. This may seem like an odd thing to put up here, but many people, even those who know me quite well, seem to have missed it, and I get surprised looks and denial if I mention it. Maybe it’s because of the shape I am, maybe it’s to do with how I dress, maybe it’s because I carry myself with an air of confidence, maybe people are just too polite to say anything. I’m a UK size 18 and my BMI is about 31. I’m not hugely bothered by it, beyond some vague sadness about clothes I can’t get away with, but there it is.

My maiden name is Tuer. It’s just occurred to me that most of the people likely to read this won’t know that because I’ve been married for approximately six months longer than LUGRadio has existed. Despite its similarity to a certain French verb (“tuer”, which means “to kill”), my Dad, with his quite extensive genealogical research, has discovered that it’s originally from Yorkshire, in forms like Tewar and Tewer, and meant someone who worked with white leather, in the same kind of way a tanner would work with brown leather. For all I occasionally joke about getting rid of the four letter word because people have so much trouble spelling or pronouncing it, I’m still proud to call myself part of the Tuer Clan of Carlisle.

I have a degree in Ecology. I went to Durham University to study biology (with a subsidiary in Latin – I’m apparently the second person ever to take that combination, the first being my mate Ali), but then discovered the horror that was biochemistry, and moved sideways onto the ecology course. I did dissections, conducted experiments with live animals, almost didn’t write a dissertation about mosquitoes and finally, after three years of hell and winning every “who’s got the worst housemate?” competition, got to shake Peter Ustinov’s hand at graduation.

I gather I’m supposed to tag people that I want to see do this, but a) I’m still shattered after getting home yesterday from an utterly fantastic holiday, which I will have to blog about sometime, b) I’ve got no idea who actually reads this and has a blog, so I haven’t a clue who to tag and c) there’s a good chance they won’t want to do it so they’ll either ignore it or hate me for it anyway.