Well now….

I know it’s been over a month since I last updated….. it might be a while more.

We are, now, as broke as I’ve ever been. We’ve made every effort over the last 2 years to keep this day from coming, apparently THAT has worked against us. When we got to the point we were desperate enough to apply for government assistance, we’ve been rejected.

Back in March I cashed in what there was of my 10 yrs of RRSP contributions. $16,000. Half of that went to Australia to pay off mounting credit cards that had been keeping us going for 6 months before that. Yes, it was a bit of a shell game with the cash, but it was one way to keep the wolves from the door and I never expected to have to explain what we were doing. But because those explanations are inadequate, our application for assistance has been rejected. They suggested James apply for an Australian pension scheme he is ineligible for.

There is $2.52 in the bank.

The Feychild, as an adult will be receiving a small cheque every month as a ‘boarder’, that will be sufficient to buy the supplies James needs for the orders he has outstanding, and we’ll have to make an executive decision to spend some of it on more time for my cell, and to reinstate the phone…. we need connectivity if there’s any hope of me finding work … ever. We might be able to keep the lights on and diesel in the oil tank if the china cabinet sells. Or any of the other pieces we have up for sale. We have about $300 worth of market orders to deliver.

I don’t know what, if anything, we’re going to be able to do to continue with the web hosting, but we’ll keep the lights on here as long as we can, we owe that much to the good folks of the comic community whose donations back in June kept us going. If you are at all inclined to order something special, custom, or bespoke for a loved one for the holidays, we’d be very pleased for the business. ( http://www.novascotialaser.ca )

We haven’t hit the end of our rope, but it’s as close as anyone ever would want to be.

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Mornings with CBC Radio3

heheh…. I *love* this…
The David Bowie Paper Doll

If that doesn’t float your boat, try a little Freddie Mercury in a Habs Hat

But in other news…. I feel old.
Looked this morning at the full line up for the Halifax Pop Explosion: “The biggest music event east of Montreal kicks off next week, and features a solid mixture of big-name international touring acts, beloved Canadian staples and interesting up-and-comers.”

And I don’t recognize a single name on the list.

<——— old phart

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I love clever advertising…

this is brilliant..

Zoo ad

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Fingers crossed…

I think the interview this morning went well … but then I’m never *sure* about these things.

Despite the familiarity with the questions, I did struggle with at least one key point “Can you give an example of a time when you exceeded expectations?” “Umm no, I have exceptionally high expectations of myself, I set the bar pretty high, I achieve what I expect of myself. I’m pretty sure those achievements exceed other people’s expectations, but since those are rarely spelled out – I’m sure I exceeded them, but I’m not sure what their expectations were since I know mine are different that that.” I definitely struggled trying to find the words for that one… same as “Can you name a time when you set a goal for yourself, and how you went about meeting that goal?” Well bugga. What I said was, “I’m always constantly setting challenges and goals for myself – every day strive towards things, it’s what I do…. this week I decided I was going to learn to hand code drop down menus – not a big thing, sure I could have downloaded a widget or…. cut and pasted a bit of code from someone else, but I set out to learn it, and in 24 hours I had that puppy working.” What I should have said was, “17 yrs ago I decided I needed a future, a career, not just a job … I set out to learn to fly and become a professional pilot – that never happened, but along the way I learned a great deal more and it led me into a challenging and fruitful career I am really good at” It’s hard to give those sorts of examples because I just don’t think of it in those terms.

There were 12 questions, in total, I think I did OK on most of them, it’s a scored system (60% is a pass – I’d find it hard to believe I didn’t at least do that well, but then again I wouldn’t find it hard to believe that one of the other 3 candidates did better either…. or at least ‘smoother’ answers.

But I enjoyed meeting them all, and the HR person was quite personable and chatty and asked a lot of interesting ‘aside’ questions about airline dispatch and what the heck I was doing in Corberrie NS.

Hope springs eternal.

Spent the rest of the day futzing with malwarebytes support – still trying to figure out what went wrong with the latest update install……

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… and

Ooooooooooo and I almost forgot…

There’s a shiny new website… Arthcwtch is home, right now it’s the hub of all our various activities, as it grows we’ll add friends and neighbours and interesting things in.

(and I’m terribly proud of myself for learning how to hand code drop down menus with css … yeah W3C counts 26 problems – I suspect that’s the use of tables for separation, I’ll fix it. But for the moment – it’s shiny! and I’m hella proud of myself *preens*)

… and
This is the latest property I’m dreaming about. Barns and workshops and garages galore which I need more than I need house space. House is smaller – easier to clean without being tiny. And acres and acres of fields for sheep and alpacas and heeland coos. And beautiful beach ocean frontage for my beloved dog. All for an exceptionally good price – even for Nova Scotia.

Now I think there should be pie with the soup…

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Polar Bear Season the 2014 Edition.

Well life continues on here…. fall has arrived, as usual I’m moody and melancholy, but not in a bad way, just in a grey fall being reflective way. Yep, it’s Polar Bear Season again.

Usually major life changes, switches in direction, begin formulating in September and fruition happens the first week of October. Of course there’s no hard fast rule about that. For which I’m very glad. I got the call yesterday for an interview for the job I mentioned a couple weeks back. I know I’m qualified, I know I’d be good at it, I know my experience in airline dispatch isn’t all that far a throw away from “Dept of Transportation and Infrastructure Base Person I” – snow plow dispatch. Despite my glowing resumé and experience and excellent references – well there’s a lot of very qualified people, with experience and references around these days. I just hope for the best. With any luck at least one of the interviewers will be one of the same people from the 3 person panel in Shelburne last November and they’ll remember me fondly – that interview went well as well.

A friend turned me on to a possible copy writing gig, sent off an email regarding that late last Friday – that too would be a great thing if it pans out. Lots of crossed fingers.

Spent the morning dealing with complaining……
Complaining to Malwarebytes that the latest updated version is broken, that was a handful of hoops to jump through.
Complaining to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada that the information they gave me over the phone yesterday regarding my dilemma with Facebook doesn’t entirely apply. I suspect I’m spending a lot of effort making myself unpopular with ‘Barry’ and I won’t get anywhere, but I am trying. There are a few people on Facebook I deeply miss, had a quick chat with one of them last night via James’s account, and then emailed her this morning, there’s also one of my sisters, as much as Facebook was pretty much my only contact with her, she didn’t post often, and its limited in it’s information. I tried emailing her, but she’s had some issues of her own and her mailbox is full and emails are bouncing. I hope she’s ok. What does come through from her – James will let me know.

I missed making an appointment with the provincial social services office today – admittedly this is something I’ve been putting off, avoiding, generally burying my head in the sand about for a while now. But we cannot continue to avoid it. Even if the job interview goes well tomorrow, it’ll still be weeks before we see any money from it, and frankly I can live without the phone, and the credit card bills are what they are, the market is providing us with sufficient to eat – not well, but every day, so we’ve avoided it, but I’m starting to fear we may lose the power – and that’d be a huge problem. Technically The Feychild should be getting a disability payment at the very least anyway. Still I keep putting it off one more day.

The stress has had it moments of taking it’s toll on James and I, but in the end, ultimately I think, I hope, it might all be good for us … it’s certainly poked us both in some very tender places, and we are trying to pull together more than pull apart so I think we’ll survive this.

A little change in luck, a sold snow blower, the wood stove selling, the property in Newfoundland finally finding a buyer…… it won’t take much to turn things around. We’re starting to make orders at the market, and *do* live in hope of one day seeing those 100-150 orders a year… maybe more. If we can do that, and I can be working again, we’ll find our way through to the other side of this. After all .. it’s only money and I’ve been broke before. What it won’t break is our love and commitment to each other.

We did get a marvellous Thanksgiving dinner – thanks to a little help from James’ parents, and the market, and a good week on the tables. And left over turkey is holding us over this week well. They’re still irate with us, but we’re doing all we can, can’t do any more than that.

I’ll make some soup for tonight – The Feychild’s request, there’s fresh bread to go with it. I may be tired of complaining and tired of struggling, but we’re battening down the hatches and holding on, it may be a long hard winter, or maybe we’ll catch a break, but whatever happens we have each other, and we have you gentle reader. So nothing is really all that awful.

Here … have a puppy.
 photo dogs-gif_zps7rcan9su.gif

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Market Day…

Our local farmer’s market isn’t the biggest, but it’s a bright vibrant place with great vendors and a nice selection of offerings.

Farmer’s Markets are usually the first thing we check out when we’re new to an area, or even just visiting… so we’ve been heading out to the market every few weeks since we first arrived at Arthcwtch. Is it any surprise that one of the first friends we made was with chocolate seller Weez Coburn – Carino Confections?

A few weeks back, we decided to give Fractal Coffee a go at the market. Honestly we’d been holding back some because we weren’t terribly sure how well the high tech laser crafted arts we were doing would fit into the general farmer’s market theme of handicrafts. We shouldn’t have worried, we were welcomed with open arms and joyous greets, and a few weeks in we do feel like market ‘family’. Moreso, the work is being well received by market patrons, the general wares out on the table aren’t flying off, but it’s introducing us to a wider community and the custom orders are starting to come, and it’s starting to build. We have a goal of 200 orders a year, or 15-17 orders per month for novascotialasers.ca to be self sufficient. We’re still a long way to go to that goal, but we’ve definitely made some inroads. (As an aside – yeah I know we have too many names / domains – but no one understood the Fractal Coffee thing, and the Café Newf thing was a bit of an inside joke. Eventually novascotialasers.ca will encompass all the laser/technical crafts, and be connected to Arthcwtch which is Home and encompasses all that we do; laser crafts, and Ocean’s Edge home crafts, and veggie growing and baking and fabric crafts, blogging that I’m doing.)

This week’s Market Day treat was Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese:
Fresh cherry tomatoes from the veggies stand cut in half, laid cut side up in a non reactive pan (steel or porcelain is best – cast iron or aluminum will impart a metal taste to your tomatoes). Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with course sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, a bit of fresh thyme, a few whole leaves of basil (from our own herb gardens) and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Roast in a 400°F oven for 15 mins.

Allow to cool slightly.
Serve with kalamata olives, and good goat cheese (from our favourite cheese seller!). This week we had a lovely feta marinaded in olive oil, rosemary and cranberry. And chunks of good bread to sop up the juices.

Personally I like to toss the tomatoes and olives and cheese together and let the favours mix and marinate together, others prefer to set the elements out on their own. Either way, a delicious and delightful salad on the side for grilled or roasted meats, or as a nibbly appetizer before dinner.

And yes, it all got scarfed down before I could get pictures.

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I suspect someone’s internet prank has gotten a little out of hand?

At least that’s what it smells like to me.

Amaruk Wilderness: Questions raised about company at centre of anti-Christian attack

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An artist and their tools….

Digging out a couple old entries that somehow got saved in ‘Drafts’ but never actually published.
This one on ‘stoves’ got saved for wanting to add what some of these much desired items are…

Every artist has a thing about their tools … it took me a while for it to ‘click’ and for me to understand my own madness for the odd things I collect….

I have things about paper, pens, file folders, stationary, coloured post it notes, markers, flags, … this makes sense I’m a writer, and I’m an organizer … the tools of that lend the promise of art to come, so I fondle them, moon over them a little …. sniffle a bit as I put stuff back on the shelf and wander away. It’s a bit weird, but it makes sense.

My similar love affair for kitchen wares made less sense to me. However, I think, perhaps, it’s still about the ‘art’, art is always, just a little bit obsessive. The culinary arts, appealing to our sense of taste and smell and touch, and appealing to our lizard survival brain, is no different from the other arts in that sense, perhaps even more so. All hold the promise of food, and art, to come, and the comfort of lack of starvation shouldn’t be discluded. Little shiny enamel Le Cruset pots, endless cases of glassware, and dinner plates and tea pots sighing wistfully at the Portmeiron Botanic Garden catalogue and…

I have such a hard time with this one.

I don’t know how many of you might know artists intimately well, but they can do really silly things. I knew a keyboard player once who couldn’t resist buying a ‘the best new keyboard’ whenever his will power broke down and he wandered into a music shop. Including spending the mortgage payment. It cost him his marriage. I’ve watched guitar players moon over vintage instruments. Luckily for my husband, I can pretty much resist going quite that far. If only because my sickness is THAT expensive and we don’t have THAT kind of money. And really how many stoves does any ONE cook need? But like any artist beautiful tools, well crafted tools, that promise of art to come; the lure is strong.

Most cooks, even professional ones, have ONE stove, one cooking medium they love. Alas for me I flirt like an unfaithful lover from one “be still my beating heart” to another and back again. For the moment, its an affair like a teenaged girl with a movie magazine, as I post picture after picture of my various changing heart throbs on the office wall. Harmless enough.

Alas the day will come when I have more cash in my hands than good sense and we’ll redo this kitchen – not for resale, but for ME. This is a proposition that scares my husband.

This is proposition scares me because I will have to make a choice … or choices.

My Lunenburg Foundry Wood Burning Peacock Cookstove – honestly I’ve always had a love affair with wood burning cookstoves. One of the joys of wood fired is what it does for baked goods. While not quite a wood burning bake oven (as in brick in the fireplace), it’s still a damp heat that is amazing for breads! I got a *hella* good deal on this when I bought it. While the nickle trims need replating and the enamel could use some touch ups the interior workings – the oven and firebox have all be factory refurbished. (the foundry only quit making them in the 80′s, and will still do repairs and refurbishment – the owner himself had a love affair with these stoves and collected them for a while)
Lunenburg Foundry Peacock Stove

Magic Chef 6300. These gas burning behemoths were the stove of the pre-war era. Big and Beautiful as a 6 burner model, they are just *sick* in the 8 burner version. But oh my love! 8 burners, 2 ovens, 2 thermostatically controlled broilers, and a warming cabinet? Gas is the preferred cooking medium of the pros. Yes, I tend to babble about this one.
Magic Chef 6300 - 8 burner

Aga – 4 Oven
Aga stoves have long been popular in the U.K., but less common on this side of the pond. Beautiful cast iron heavy weights, in beautiful enamel finishes, they combine all the things I love about wood cookstoves, with the convenience of gas fired. Like wood stoves, these are ‘always’ on, and you control the temperature by where you cook. Available in 2 oven, 4 oven, and companion models, they can also be had with electric cooktops – but why? Also it’s nice that there’s available matching companion kitchen pieces. I do love these – for the jewel colours, the warmth and solidity they bring to a farm house kitchen. Added advantage, you’re not futzing about with antique workings and whether or not your insurance agent will still talk to you. Me? I love it in the deep cobalt blue, but I’ll post the ivory picture so you can see the details.
Aga - 4 oven cooker

And then there’s this.
Antique hotel stove
There are no words for this. An unbelievable giant of a stove, wood and coal fired, out of some classic hotel somewhere in Europe, this was wood/coal burning stove of the professional chefs and Grand Homes of Europe. Exceptionally rare (the last one found made the national news in Britain). I will never in a million years have the room, or use, or be able to find and afford such a treasure, but oh my word, it’s lovely to look at and imagine.

Last but not least, as a serious cook I can’t really talk about Kitchen Appliance P0rn, without lusting over 48″ and 60″ pro, and prosumer ranges and cooktops and wall ovens like Wolfs and Garlands and GE Monograms. Although, I’ve been surprised the prosumers have not been well rated. I suspect it has something to do with the average home not having the 3 phase electrical systems that professional kitchens do.

48in Wolf Prosumer Range

Viking French Door Double Wall Oven

Fortunately my tastes in Antique refrigerators is a lot less complex:
McCray and Fridgidair Oak Commercial Units – 6 ft tall, 7 feet long, I want 3 of them – one to be refurbished as a fridge unit, one to be refurbished as a freezer unit, and one to be refurbished as a pantry. And maybe a small one to be refitted as a wine cabinet. Fortunately these (and similar animals like the Banta) can be had for a not ungodly amount of money and while not common, aren’t too hard to find.

Large McCray Antique Refrigerator

Small McCray Commercial Fridge

Next up – vintage enamel, pyrex and ceramic dishware……….
Naw… we’d be here till a week from next Christmas if I tried to write that one up!

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Your support is deeply appreciated

Pilots N Paws Canada – that amazing organization I work for – connects rescues and shelters together with pilots willing to volunteer their time and aircraft to help transport rescue animals in need…. many of them

Deanna, Pilots, and Puppies

Now we’re reaching out with a new project – and we’re hoping that you can help us make it happen by voting for us every day in this year’s Aviva Community Fund competition.

Your support is deeply appreciated by us, but even more so by the rescues, and the animals you help us help.

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More and more reasons to buy artisan beers…

50% of the world’s beers are brewed by six conglomerates. It just keeps getting more and more homologous.

Fortunately, the nice thing about beer becoming more and more, dare I say it, ‘hipster’ is that one can now get craft brews, small local brewery, micro-brewery and artisan beers far more easily. No longer confined to certain areas around Berkeley, craft and artisan beverages can be found pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Their popularity has even convinced the ‘Big Boys’ to start trying to crack the artisan markets. I have mixed feelings about this. I am really not terribly thrilled about smaller localized breweries being bought out by the larger conglomerates, although I can understand why and how a small brewer might do so. After all, there will always be a new, inspired craft brewer willing to come along and fill the vacuum and perhaps it will lead to more and better choices from the mass market breweries. However, I suspect not. Or at least not the artisan beers one might want. Smaller breweries can afford to cater to niche markets of particular flavour profiles, mass market brewers need to appeal to much wider markets and one ends up with that same mass production middle of the road, limited selection, of flavours.

Brewing is an art. I like art. Support local artisans. And maybe find a brew worth paying $5 / bottle for

The Big Boys

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Thinking about work

Doing the job hunt thing this morning via various online job boards… a weekly/twice weekly thing

Every so often I do a troll through my old aviation job haunts – thing is, after 18 months of serious job searching, a goodly number of very promising interviews and nadda…. well I wonder sometimes if it isn’t time to go and rewrite my dispatch exams, and start applying for dispatch jobs again. It was after all – the one thing I was truly outstandingly good at.

Writing the exams again, applying again, not such a big deal, but there are … issues. It’s a little tough explaining the 4.5 yr gap in my resume, it’s a bit tough starting all over again at the bottom, it’s a bit tough selling that I’m willing to start all over again at the bottom after having been Chief Dispatcher.

Then the internal thought processes – am I willing to leave my husband and family and commute (probably only sporadically) across the country for .. aviation industry wages? There was a time 15 yrs ago I was excited and enthused about the airline industry I loved the work, I loved the idea of moving 5000 miles to start out on this grand and glorious and exciting path. I’m more tired and jaded than I was in 1999. A spark of that old enthusiasm still burns somewhere in me, but the industry beat enough of that fire out of me… I do wonder if there is any place for me in the airline world anymore. That fire also earned me a reputation (at least at the last position, and on some aviation forums) of being ‘difficult’, because I believed in doing things right, because I believed in standards; not just regulatory ones, but personal ones as well. And apparently pilots thought I was damned uppity because I believed that co-authority actually meant something.

The ember still burns, but I’m not sure I have it in me to try and rebuild that old flame into a new fire.

Sometimes, something is just past, and done, and it didn’t work out the way you expected, and there is no going back and ‘fixing’ it.

OTOH – I really need a job. But is that reason enough to try and revive a dead career and up end my family and stir up all that old ‘stuff’?

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Heh… this should be interesting..

I have upped the ante just a smidge in the battle with Facebook and fired a shot across their bow…
A formal complaint has been lodged with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada

I have requested their intervention in obtaining a satisfactory solution to this impasse; either:
Provide me with access to my account and my data without demand for government issued photo ID, which was never required to activate an account in the first place
Provide me with recourse to remove my data, and end all further spam emails

I sent ‘Barry’ an email to let him know … because I’m just polite like that :)

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Croissants, proof that God really did love the French after all…

I’ve struggled a little with croissants, and by struggle I mean this is only the third time I’ve made them, but the first time I’d call them an unqualified success.


Bought a new pan this past weekend. I admit a unreasonable fondness for speciality pans – I was lusting after the Christmas train one for a long time, and then there was a lovely fall acorn one … they’re a nice heavy cast pan – glorious. This one isn’t quite the acorn one, but still a nice fall theme. Acorns, pinecones, pumpkins … normally they’re $25 but it was on sale at $4.44 – I couldn’t pass it up.

Autumn cakes pan

Tried the recipe that came with it Hazelnut Financiers called for butter, but tried olive oil instead, turned out a little a bit tough, but tastey, they need chocolate filling I think.

Hazelnut Financiers

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Once more into the breach….

I applied last November to this same position, but at a different base …

Shelburne Base was a 90 minute drive – in good weather, but it was a commute I was willing to make for the position, and I did get an interview and interviewed very well.

But I didn’t get the job

Saulnierville Base is less than 20 minutes away

While airline dispatch might have been a very different industry, the skill sets and work environments really shouldn’t be all that terribly different. Obviously there’s not a lot of airline jobs down this end of Nova Scotia, this is about as close to my particular skill set as any job gets. Damn it all – I’m GOOD at this.

I could really use a bit of good mojo right now.

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Well – there go the vegetables….

An early frost this week has put a quick end to what was left of the vegetables coming in.

One ear of corn, there were still 2 doz or so on the stalks not quite ready
All the squash and pumpkins were flowering nicely but no actual fruit yet.
Same with the watermelon
Pole beans had been doing well – got about a kg of them but they’re done now
The two turnips I pulled the other day were kinda small, but nicely formed, I’ll pull the rest and see where we are with that.
No popping corn, or baking beans I fear
Potatoes are probably going to be OK, it was a light frost – but they’ll need harvesting this week
I need to go up and check on the grape vines
Everything desperately needs mowing, but still no cash for a new mower belt
I’ll need to cover the strawberry beds

All in all kinda frustrating and annoying and I just kinda wanna cry – but I know I was late getting stuff in, and I was pushing it. Next year I think the corn at least, needs to go in a month earlier.

On the upside, we had a fabulous market day – with a certain hope and promise for the future, including a contact for a possible ongoing contract – he should be back next week with further details. One contract alone won’t dig us out of the hole we’re in, but at least it’s one step up. And we’re moving into the Christmas season at the market, lots more talk of ordering custom stuff for the holidays.

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Guess you’ll be seeing more of me here

So the last couple years my blogging – either here or on my mirror sites at Dreamwidth and Livejournal have been pretty sporadic, and my reading over there almost nil. This was in part thanks to the arrival of Facebook in my life. It’s not a site I’ve ever entirely ‘enjoyed’, per se, I really like the people I stay in touch with and some of the ones I’ve met there, but the signal to noise ratio has never been very conducive to thoughtful discourse. Frankly I always preferred my journals – but Facebook did have the advantage of instant feedback – it was sort of an almost happy medium between blogging and instant messengers. That said I always viewed it largely as a public coffee shop on a busy corner of town, and my blogs as my ‘home’, quieter and more private. They both had their place. Unfortunately FB kinda took over in large part because I was also managing my part time volunteer work through that medium ….

Ahh well neither here nor there. Just a little background to the following story which unfolded yesterday

Hello folks,
Back when I originally signed up a Facebook account in 2008? (09?) there were no rules regarding name usage. I created my account with the name I’ve been known online as since 1995, in all sectors, and all segments of cyber space this has been my identity. When Google+ suspended by account for not being a ‘real name’ I said ‘fine.’ and walked away.

Without getting into a huge philosophical discussion of what is a ‘real name’ the common law of the U.S. Canada (except Quebec), Australia, Great Britain, New Zealand, Hong Kong….. all pretty much are in agreement. For informal purposes I can call myself anything I like.

Sometime since 2008 Facebook changed their policy – and while I’ve done my best to keep abreast of SRR (Statement of Rights and Responsibilities) changes, I was not aware of the change to the use of names policy. It now reads:

“Registration and Account Security

Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account:

1. You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.
2. You will not create more than one personal account.
3. If we disable your account, you will not create another one without our permission.
4. You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.
5. You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.
6. You will not use Facebook if you are a convicted sex offender.
7. You will keep your contact information accurate and up-to-date.
8. You will not share your password (or in the case of developers, your secret key), let anyone else access your account, or do anything else that might jeopardize the security of your account.
9. You will not transfer your account (including any Page or application you administer) to anyone without first getting our written permission.
10. If you select a username or similar identifier for your account or Page, we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe it is appropriate (such as when a trademark owner complains about a username that does not closely relate to a user’s actual name).”

Apparently it is their contention that I am in violation. Late this afternoon my account was unceremoniously suspended, and I was logged out, attempts to log back in were greeted with:
“Update your name
Your account has been temporarily suspended because it looks like you’re not using your real name. Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. We require everyone to provide their full name so you always know who you’re connecting with.
Don’t worry — you’ll be able to get back into your timeline with your full, real name. If you’re using a nickname, you can always add it back into your account later as an alternate name.”

As I was given no warning, no email, no recourse to debate the question or issue, I’m currently accountless. I understand that in order to retrieve my account I will be required to change the account name to my ‘Legal Name’, identification proving such, a cell phone verification number…. frankly it’s a identity thief’s wet dream.

I know a lot of people are quiet content with their Facebook real name etc., but in this day and age when photos are being hacked and stolen from a private iCloud and Apple and others are saying “*shrug*, not our problem, you shouldn’t have uploaded private materials”, and gmail had a huge number of passwords stolen last week (someone tried to hack into our PETSCORT email!). Yes I do participate in online banking and credit card access, and I’m always careful that those sites are secure, and even they don’t have my name (although they do have my bank card number). I’m sorry but Facebook just isn’t secure and I’m not prepared to give them greater access to my ‘Real Life’ than my bank has, or that the laws of many collective governments in the western world require. Maybe I’m being paranoid, maybe I’m being a Luddite, or maybe I’m just personally drawing a line in regards to how much I trust Facebook and asking do I really need to provide them with this information to participate in what amounts to a coffee shop/cafe culture?

So, barring Facebook reversing their enforcement of this policy (and I really don’t see that happening for one little ol’ crazy canuck), I am accountless. It’s been a pleasure knowing you all, you are as always welcome to stop by the blog (either our own server or livejournal) and chat, or gasp even drop me an email oceans @ oceans-edge.com if you wish. It’s been fun while it’s lasted, I really do like you all (well most of you *grins*) and some of you I love and will truly miss. Truth be told though, I was getting to a point where I wasn’t entirely sure that Facebook wasn’t becoming a thing who’d worn out it’s welcome in my life. I love you all but Facebook comes with a lot of *stuff* I don’t need.

I will continue to provide what services I can to the PETSCORT project via email and the forum and we”ll figure this out. It might put a bit of a crimp in things for a little while. But *snicker* there’s more than one way to skin a cat, that doesn’t involve FB skinning me!

Love ya,

So while managing my role as PETSCORT Coordinator is now going to change a little, it’s not the end of the world, and I’m not panicking or freaking out, or even entirely disappointed. People will either find me or they won’t. Those I came to FB to stay in touch with will be missed if they don’t email once in a while, but really I should be worth the effort, and if I’m not? Well I guess it’s not a huge loss?

Oh and yes, I tried in vain to send the same missive to Facebook staff this morning (with a few minor tweaks and a couple of references to Canadian privacy law for Private enterprises. Specifically:

In short I would refer you to Appendix A – Section 8: http://www.parl.gc.ca/Content/LOP/researchpublications/prb0744-e.htm#appendixa
“Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which they are to be used, and, to the extent necessary for those purposes”. My ‘legal name’ and government issued ID identifying me as such is not relevant or necessary to my participation in the greater Facebook community, as my participation over the past 5 yrs has shown.

I discovered that the only way to send them that information / discussion, without providing them with the very information I refuse to give them. Brilliant scheme they have. Try as I might I can’t find an email address anywhere on the site to send my complaint to either. Oh. Well. Frankly it’s all a tempest in a teacup – not worth my worrying about.

So I’m back to daily blogging here, and that overall is a good thing. There’s probably a 1000 little things I’d have shared over there, memes and humourous pictures, and quizzes and nonsense that won’t get shared here – but really did they add anything to the signal to noise ratio? Or put any good out in the world? Perhaps not.

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Trying to break down some complicates science concepts into easily understood and digestible reading using everyday examples and analogies:

DNA – they’re building blocks, just like LEGO. A 4 dot square brick is a 4 dot square brick whether you use it to build a space ship or you use it to build a house. It is not a ‘space ship brick’ and you didn’t build your house outta space ships! There are no fish in your tomatoes, no humans in your rice. Just a pretty blue building block.

Traditional hybriding techniques are basically taking two LEGO houses, throwing them together and hoping you get a better house out of it because one of them has the blue bricks you wanted for the window wells in your yellow house. Genetic engineering in a lab is finding blue bricks in a space ship and saying “oh those will make my yellow house so much better, so you dismantle the space ship to add the yellow bricks in.
Bt corn – Bt is a pesticide – naturally occurring in the soil, it’s poisonous to corn borers, by adding Bt to corn genetics they make their own Bt and corn borers die. It is not poisonous to people. In fact it’s so natural and safe, that it’s approved for organic farming as a spray. Adding it to the corn structure just means that it doesn’t kill the beneficial bugs like aphids and praying mantises while getting rid of corn borers.

Things that are poisonous to one species while being completely harmless to others is not a new concept. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, so are grapes, so are lots of things that are completely fine for us. I couldn’t get through certain times of the month without chocolate and fermented grapes. Dogs being mammals and all are a whole lot more similar, biologically speaking, to people than bugs are. Just because it kills bugs, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you.
Chemicals. Chemicals aren’t bad or good or … they just are. Like DNA (which is made of chemicals) the whole world, and everything in it, is a chemical. Everything we know and touch and eat and are is a chemical. And it even has a chemical name. Everyone knows the Dihydrogen Monoxide joke, but then there’s citric acid and sodium bicarbonate these are harmless things we use every day. Lots of other things we may find hard to pronounce or don’t immediately recognize are on the labels of foods, that doesn’t automatically make them ‘bad’. The hype over the yoga mat chemical was a perfect example of that. Yellow bricks and red bricks and blue bricks – just because a blue brick was used to make the yoga mat, doesn’t mean it isn’t perfectly fine to use it in your bread. There was an excellent British TV documentary series called ‘E-Numbers” (in Europe all food additives are given an ‘e-number’) that talks about how some of those things that sound scary because we don’t necessarily understand what they are, are not only useful, and safe, but some time absolutely necessary. It’s an excellent watch – all the episodes – for demystifying some of the misinformation around food additives.

As an addendum – just because it was built in a laboratory doesn’t mean it’s bad, and just because it’s ‘natural’ doesn’t make it good. Hemlock is natural, I don’t want to be drinking hemlock tea. That may be over simplified and I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence, I’m just saying that the same principals of truth that apply to “I don’t want to drink hemlock tea, and tea tree oil will kill your dog.” also applies to other things that are more complicated. Valarian tea is really good for some people, so is digitalis, but they can also be extremely dangerous used indiscriminately.

Darkness is scary, fear of the unknown is the core of all human fear. Education, information, is enlightenment and the way out of fear. Whatever your particular concern or fear, or issue is, there is information out there – LOADS of it, some of it’s a bit confusing, most of it isn’t really if you read it with an open and inquiring mind. We live in a time where almost the entire sum total of human knowledge is there available at our fingertips! That’s a really amazing thing, and we shouldn’t look that gift horse in the mouth.

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Unless you’ve been living under an internet rock sometime in the last couple weeks you’ve seen this indiegogo campaign to build solar roadways. It took off, it went viral, people are clamouring over it, and as of this morning, it had raised $1.6 million dollars.

Almost as quickly, there sprung up blogs and arguments and discussions on why mostly the whole thing is quackery. From thorough breakdown of the dollars and cents of it. (Which is really the biggest impracticality to the whole thing), to discussions of the engineering. The upshot is that while the technology is possible, the whole plan is completely impractical – and they’ve still raised $1.6 million dollars. Raised in in little $5, and $10, and $20 increments that is crowd sourcing.

I really do think crowd sourcing is a brilliant concept, one that in this age of internet, has been a perfect and natural evolution in social change. The thing is crowd sourcing works best for small indie projects, niche markets and niche ideas that don’t appeal to a large enough consumer market to attract big investment dollars. Huge infrastructure projects like roadways would indeed see investment funding, if there were practical applications. You don’t build the roadways of the world on $5 and $10 donations thrown into the kitty. There are occasional exceptions to this generalization…. LeVar Burton raised $1.0 million in 11 hours to reboot Reading Rainbow. I think in that case the difference is that he would have found the investor funding for doing this through whatever medium he wanted to present it through. As it’s going to be an internet project, the internet funded it. Makes sense. Solar roadways don’t.

So the question is ‘why?’ Why, if the whole idea is so hair brained, impractical, and more faery tale than science did the whole thing take off? Why did it go viral? Why have 100′s and 1000′s of people donated their hard earned cash to such a wholly impractical idea? Honestly I don’t know, but I have some suspicions.

Firstly there’s the shiny. Lights! L.E.D.s! Glass, Sparkle! There’s nothing attractive about cement and asphalt, but glass and lights are pretty, and we like pretty. Technology. We largely as a society have this love / hate relationship with technology. We love the hardware and the convenience and the things it’s brought to our lives almost seamlessly. I was watching Godzilla (the 1998 version with Matthew Broderick) a couple weeks back and was actually kind of startled by how conspicuously absent smart phone were. In under 10 years this technology has so integrated itself in our society and how it functions that you notice it missing. However, its also magic. We’ve become so reliant on this and yet most people couldn’t tell you how it works, from the cell phone signals, to wifi, to the ever shrinking semi-conductors that allow more computing power in a 3″ x 5″ hand held device than I had in my first windows computer back in 1994. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” – it’s all magic to us, and magic is a little bit scary. If we don’t understand how something works, we tend to have a visceral fear of it. We can overcome that fear with it’s convenience and shiny, but we still don’t understand how we can put solar chargers on the roof of our campers to charge our cell phone, but we can’t put them in 100,000,000 miles of roadway.

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20 Years the internet.

In April of 1994 I got my first internet account.

No I wasn’t the first kid on the block. But the options were pretty limited in those days. You had local Bulletin Boards, which you had to have the actual correct phone number for your modem to dial into, or there were usenet groups, or brand spanking new were things like AOL, Compuserve and Prodigy Online. Not entirely the internet as we know it now, but some semblence there of. You could build a website at AOL … oh I remember corporate businesses and celebrities having AOL addresses (Oprah had an AOL address in those days).

But I was on Prodigy Online, a free install disc in the mail, my sister in law’s boyfriend installed it for me over Christmas, but I poked and puttered with it a bit, but it didn’t really ‘catch’ me. Then I happened on a room where I made a few connections with like minded and interesting people. And an internet addiction was born. I was a social person, always have been, but socially awkward, and a young suburban mom, in an abusive relationship and … I didn’t get out much, didn’t have many friends. For a ‘shut in’ like me it was a glorious discovery.

The technology was moving fast in those days, and my life with it. It wasn’t long before my second internet romance broke up my marriage (or that’s the tale if you listen to my ex tell it). I was out on my own, with a painfully outrageous Prodigy bill following me, so I moved on to unlimited dial up ISP services, and a second phone line because I had a ‘telecommuting job’, but the boredom of pizza order phones, and the excitement of online friends in IRC (internet relay chat) undernet chat rooms was too great and the job went away. My life went on and undernet was there for a long time. However time moves on and so did I.

I finished school, started work, there was little time for hanging around in chat rooms waiting for people I knew to wander by. Another bad, failed internet relationship later I had a LiveJournal account, and I entered the Blog-o-sphere. It was a good place for me. My friends were there, we could talk and follow each other’s lives without having to wait for one another to pop into a chat room. Oh yeah there were memes and quizzes and non content, but for the most part we wrote opinion, we wrote about what was happening in our lives and we shared. I think still LiveJournal is still where I’m most comfortable. Still around this period of 2003-2010 everyone was getting a blog, everyone was talking, anyone with an opinion could freely express it, and it was wonderful, no longer could minority opinion be suppressed, no longer was information hidden, everyone was sharing. The artistic freedom was amazing.

Still, life and technology changes and blogs went from communities to self publishing. Every nutter no matter how nuts could shout out their theory and ideas without ever having to establish any basis of knowledge or vetting of reputation or even grounding in rationalization. And along came Facebook and Twitter and sound bite socialization. I can’t say I liked it much. However it was bright and shiny and there were a handful of friends and family I cared for deeply that I only saw there. I always viewed LiveJournal as my home, it was my base, my space, and my voice, and those who commented were friends invited in for tea or coffee and cake and a chat. Facebook was like the coffee shop on the corner of a busy street, I’d see a lot of people I kinda knew passing by and I’d wave and give a shout hello, and sometimes one of those friends and family I really liked would stop by my cafe table and chat for a bit. Groups became like the social clubs we used to join.

Thing is cosmopolitan cities have gotten harder and harder for me as I’ve gotten older. I prefer my quiet space in the country. The noise and the excitement and the hustle and bustle of the busy world is fun for a while, but eventually I need the simplicity of my home and my friends and to turn off the TV and avoid the world out there.

The world is becoming an increasingly mad place daily. Everyone with a cause to spout is spouting it. Used to be to get published you had to have a publisher, you had to break in with credentials and talent and you had to show you knew what you were talking about. That did keep some ideas and knowledge from being published, but it kept the crazy stuff to a minimum. Oh sure some got through, Timothy Leary managed to find himself an outlet or two. The thing was we got used to more or less trusting what we read or heard on the news, we knew publishers and journalists to at least take some care with their research so we didn’t have to go to the library and do the research ourselves. The great blessing of the free flowing of information has also become a curse. (McLuhan … I don’t know if he’s rolling over in his grave, or doing a head desk, or just rolling his eyes saying “I told you so”, but yeah, he told us so.) Problem is most of us have grown up in a world where we trust what we read has been vetted, and so now we share it with impunity because we’re social creatures. Every nutter with an internet connection can throw up a page or a blog with a couple ads and self referencing references and shares it and the more outrageous the idea the more we’re inclined to share it because it outrages us.

The ZenMastr said to me, back in 2003 or so that “anything sufficiently cool will ultimately be discovered by the masses and ultimately ruined. All of us who have something worthwhile to say should just leave the internet to the masses and go back to 128 bit encrypted languages.” Yeah he could be arrogant like that, it was one of his charms, but there are days I think he was right.

Facebook has given me the wonderful opportunity to do a lot of good in the world and I love the work I do and the people I do it with. I also hate it. I hate the noise to signal ratio. The sheer volume of the noise and misinformation and people sharing what they believe honestly and truly to be ‘truth’ without reading, understanding, appreciating or even discussing these ideas. There’s no room for discussion in the noise any more. Trying to stem the tide of crazy shouting protests in my news feed and in my life is exhausting. Yeah, I I can be arrogant like that, but it’s one of my charms. Yet to do the work I do requires me to be here, and not just be here but participate with people.

The time will come, and I wonder how far off perhaps, when even so, I’ll retire from Facebook and the noise and abandon my table in this giant coffee shop of the internet and retire home here to my LiveJournal and personal blog and …. you know you’ll always be welcome to stop in and have a coffee and a cake here with me. I keep wanting to retreat further and further from the world not because I’m afraid of some big bad mega menace out there, but because I’m tired of the noise of the people warning me about the big bad mega menace out there.

However, if I can leave you with one small bit of advice, it’s this: don’t trust anything you read on the internet. The other day I was doing a quick little research on “How Many Seed Companies Does Monsanto own?” and the first two pages of google results, all self referenced the original, incorrect and misleading headline. How many of us have time to read and reference and research into page 3 or 4 of google in answer to ANY meme we’ve seen on the internet? This is how misinformation spreads like a virus – we hear 4000 times a day about how vaccines have mercury in them and cause autism or how contrails are the government controlling our minds with chemicals, or how corn is gonna give us all brain cancer and turn us into zombies, we hear it enough times it seeps into our brains, and without educating ourselves differently it becomes part of our mindset. In the 50s’ socially we trusted our government and our corporations, then the 60′s and 70′s happened and we learned we couldn’t trust them, and the 80′s happened and we learned we couldn’t trust each other, by the 2000′s we trusted no one, and now we’re all busy screaming at each other about how we’re all out to get each other and. We’ve (as a society) become almost schizoid, the science and the research and the technology that we developed to help protect ourselves from the things we didn’t know are the very things we don’t trust today. As the joke went way back when “ridding the world of every single substance known to have ever caused cancer in rats, only means we’ll soon be confronted by a lot of healthy robust rats”. The nice thing about knowing the world is on a collision course with hell via a handbasket? It’s easy to say ‘f**kitall, lets just relax and enjoy life’. Maybe that’s the real lesson of having grown out of the 80′s, we were all on a collision course with our deaths because we lived in the shadow of the bomb, but then we grew up and realized there was no joy in excess either.

I believe there is good in trying to live ethically, but I also know that you cannot fight and win every battle out there. You only make yourself, and others, crazy trying. I believe that science and technology are good for me, that the world and the universe have learned a few things in the last 40 years, and that if a subject is really truly important enough a fight for me to want to fight it, I need to go out and learn and research and understand and stop shouting made up soundbites at my nieghbours.

Oddly enough the thing that IS truly important enough for me to want to fight it is the cause of misinformation, which means I’m pretty much living in a state of perpetual annoyance. So this is me, stopping to take a deep breath. I can’t fix the world, I can’t fix the misinformation in it, I can’t even fix the misinformation that comes across my own news feed. So this is me, stopping to take a deep breath. This is me taking a step back and saying “nope, I don’t believe one single meme, or argument or outrage you’ve passed along in the spirit of “omg someone has to stop this!!” So this is me, stopping to take a deep breath. Going back to my life here at home, in my own four walls, and my own family, and my own work, and my blog and journals. Maybe it makes me a bit of a coward, but ya know I was never a revolutionary, I was never one for causes or tilting at windmills or being a radical, I was, am, and always will be the diplomat, trying hard to see all sides and hear all voices and looking for moderation.

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Blessed Be Dearest Heart, Blessed Be

There are times when there are things you just can’t talk about

I’ve had occasion this week, to watch someone I love face a difficult and and sudden change in their life. They’ve face that change with optimism and dignity and hope and mostly grace. It’s a touching story – and it would be nice to share it. I’d love for you to see what I see, this amazing and beautiful and indomitable spirit, but it’s not my story to tell – it’s theirs, and they’ve told it well.

It’s always difficult for me to adequately express, over thousands of miles and many years away, the complex range of emotions I feel for them. The sadness of the loss, the joy of the new hope and new beginning, the nuances of all the stuff that went before and underpin how we deal with the curve balls life throws at us. Mostly its those situations where I’d rather hand someone a cup of tea and a plate of cookies and just let them talk. Unfortunately that strategy doesn’t work well on social media.

So all I can do is write cryptic blog posts about how touched I am by what you’re going through. How much I love you, and am amazed by your strength and dignity and resilience and flexibility.

I’m proud to know you, proud to carry you in my heart, and if you think this is about you – you’re right.

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Rabbit Holes Part Deux….

A couple of weeks about I did a brain dump on some of the stuff that rolls around in my head about the world going to hell in a handbasket, and the mad mad mad world we live in.

Today I’m thinking less about how it’s gone mad, from anti-vaxers to creationists to the anti-GMO movement to the all the naturalnews followers and how turmeric cures cancer and immunizing your puppy naturally by taking him to the dog park where he can find the parvo bug, and more about why there seems to be this sudden backlash against science.

While I did think even 20+ years ago that it was inevitable that history teaches that civilizations rise and fall, and that the industrial revolution changed the entire social fabric of society, and I truly believed that the technological revolution would do the same thing, I am genuinely a bit amazed at just how similar those social revolutions are turning out to be.

The industrial revolution turned the world on it’s head via the mechanical technological advances of the day speeding up and simplifying the production of goods. Whether or not this was a good thing for society is still some what debated, but it does seem it was both needed, and inevitable. Growing populations needed more things, more work, more goods, and like any evolution the growth of man’s knowledge cannot be rolled back. You cannot unlearn a thing that has been learned. Whether individually or collectively. You cannot uninvent a thing that has been invented.

The problem with the industrial revolution was that the manufacturing technology grew faster than the social structure and labour laws could keep up with it. I suspect sometimes that’s the nature of periods of growth, it’s always a balance but it’s a dynamic one, pendulum swings. One innovation leads to another leads to another and the cycle gains momentum and speed and there will always be a segment of society that has trouble keeping up. During the industrial revolution it was the saboteurs and luddites who struggled and fought against the new industrial mechanization of what had previously been hand crafted work. Dicken’s depiction of Fezziwig in “A Christmas Carol”, shows the fall of an individual who cannot or will not keep up with the changing times.

It would be a long and socially painful process the changing of the world from the pre-industrial revolution to the post, depending on ones view point of the beginning and the ends of that period, over 150 years. The destruction of one social structure is necessary to build another social structure, and it’s a bit like the old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times”. For those who lived in the midst of it, it was a difficult and painful time, for those who inherited the new world order afterwards, it was a better place. Although ‘better’ is a subjective term or opinion and it’s possible that there are those out there who wish we were still living in wattle and daub houses, but I suspect those people might be romantics with little understanding of just what life was like in the Middle Ages.

On the heels of the end of the industrial revolution the technological revolution begun. Like it’s predecessor innovation spawned innovation and the whole process gained momentum and that which is invented cannot be uninvented and you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Is this a good thing? That too is still open for debate. But good or not, you can’t unlearn what has been learned. As the technology speeds forward, there is a segment of the population that cannot or will not keep up with the changing times. For those of us who are living in the midst of it, it is a difficult and painful time, for those who will inherit the new world order afterwards, I believe it will be a better place. Although ‘better’ is a subjective term or opinion and it’s possible that there will those out there who will wish they were still living as we did in the 1950′s, but I suspect those people might be romantics with little understanding of just what life was like in the Mid Century Modern Age.

The difference I think will be that whereas the industrial revolution was something akin to 150 years, the technological revolution looks like it’ll be about half that. It’s a whirl wind bumpy ride, and it’s not over yet. For many it is scary, even terrifying.

For those who are excited by the innovation and change and social growth and evolution of the society of mankind this is a wonderful time. But what of the others? Those who would throw their wooden clogs into the looms?

I rather like the Arthur C. Clarke quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Magic by it’s very definition is a mystery. People fear what they don’t understand. The world isn’t all rocket scientists, biochemical engineers, or computer programmers, and by and large most of us don’t understand all the technological changes happening around us. Add in to that mix that by and large people are reluctant to change the known for the unknown, and the next thing you know people are burning the hayricks.

I’m not completely immune to the affects of this, I’m still puttering along on my Windows XP machine saying “I know it works and I don’t want to learn a whole new system”, and I grumble on about “cloud computing and not trusting big server banks out there, I’ll keep my own damned files thank you very much” and I’m reminded of the grandparents who kept their money stuffed in their mattresses fearing the banks as being insecure after the financial crash and the depression. No I don’t want need and any of those darned new fangled ‘smart’ devices and “HEY! you darned kids get off my lawn.”

The whole business calls on us for a certain amount of trust. We want to believe that as higher order mammals we have collectively a control over our destiny as a species. I’m not sure we do. In the end it won’t matter whether I believe in online file storage, (I don’t like it, but I’m learning to live with it). The world will keep moving forward whether I keep up or not. Social and technological evolution will keep moving forward whether the vaccination deniers and the anti-GMO crowds keep up or not, and we’ll continue to live in interesting times, and the world will be a different (and I sincerely hope, better) place for our children and grand children. What I trust is that the universe is going to keep spinning on it’s axis and even if it wasn’t there’s not too bloody much I can do to change that, I can only make my time here and hopefully my children’s time here, a little bit better. The universe will sort itself out.

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Enter a bit of harsh reality….

We’re really good at making plans. James, myself, no one is better at researching and learning and gathering together source information and putting together a plan.

We are, less adept, at putting a plan into action. That kind of makes us daydreamers.

It’s made for a bit of inner turmoil, of that ‘ok, we did the big change to get what we wanted, how come we don’t have what we want?’ moments. There’s an inner dissatisfaction with our lives at the moment. Nothing is really *wrong*, it’s just not quite *right* yet. Some of that is our own fault, some of that is just a function of where we are in our lives, and some of it is a function of resources, some of it is just a function of “christ it’s been a long winter”. “The reality is never the same as the dream. Always.”

However, one’s life is always about the choices we make, if you’re not happy, make different choices. At the moment there aren’t a lot of choices we can make. Except day by day doing what one can.

Ok that was a long introduction to something that isn’t easy for me to talk about – has never been easy to talk about.

I am fat.

Yeah no revelations there to anyone who knows me. It’s always a difficult and touchy subject for me to talk about. On the one hand there’s this whole body image self esteem thing that no matter how much as a woman you try to outgrow and distance yourself from. Still it’s always there, even if just a tiny seed. Non of us like to say we’re fat. Self acceptance is a wonderful thing, and *mostly* I have that. I recall reading someone’s tag line somewhere that ‘being fat is hard, being slim is hard, choose your hard” or something like that. I realized that I could give up most of the foods I loved, the cooking and the creating, the artistry I love, and devote hours a day to exercise and working out and I could be thin. I know a lot of people who love the physicality of their daily work outs and wouldn’t be without it, who love running and marathons and the like. That’s not me. It’s never been me, running, weight lifting, aerobics, sports – it’s never been me. I am not graceful, or athletic. I don’t want to make running my hobby. My hobbies are writing and reading and researching and designing and cooking. That’s what I do. That is my love and my joy. And I’m perfectly OK with that. Still this reality is not what I dreamed.

Admission: I am over 300 lbs. How much over I couldn’t tell you exactly this moment. For the moment that’s not the important part. The important part is that my weight is becoming disabling. That has been my fear over the years. It wasn’t easy that I was no longer comfortable with cameras and mirrors, but I could live with avoiding those. I can’t live with the disabling parts. Honestly it doesn’t happen that you wake up one morning and suddenly you’re disabled. It creeps up on you with each pound. Things get harder and harder and harder, and you begin to realize more and more you can no longer do things you could do before. This reality is not what I dreamed.

I’ve battled with my weight most of my life. I don’t really need a lot of advice on how, or what I should do, I don’t need another weight loss/exercise advice book for my birthday. My weight and I are on intensely initimate terms, I know it well. I know what my choices are. So that isn’t really what this is about.

Part of the life choices of making the big move from suburban living to rural living was that there would be gardening work and farm work and walking and working with the dogs and cycling into the village and all of those things would lead me into a more active lifestyle and thus better able to balance the other more sedentary pursuits and finding a more passive balance in this battle. That was the dream. When we were living suburban and I was working and taking a more active approach to tackling my weight issues – it was a battle. It was an hour a day on a machine, it was constant notebooks and notes about how much of what I was eating and an hour a day of chronicling it counting and measuring and calculating the calorie carb and fat reduction in rebuilding a cake recipe and how much of that was ‘allowed’. I mean really – losing weight became pretty much my only hobby, and it wasn’t all that successful. I really don’t want to put myself in a place again where I’m at war with food – I can’t, I won’t.

So I’m at a place of making some tough choices. I need to change my hard – for a while at least. The simple fact is that my current weight has now interfered with my other life choices, it’s limiting my abilities to do the other things I wanted to do, that were supposed to help keep my balance. Walking, working with the dogs, keeping pigs and sheep and ponies and even working in the garden, even a lot of the pleasure of working in the kitchen has gone as a result of the permanent back pain I live with. So I need to try and bring my weight back to a place where I can put those things back in my life and find the balance, because right now, today, this reality is I couldn’t physically do most of the things I dream about building my life around. I need to do that without making daily workouts and being at constant war with and in fear of food. I need to NOT think about food and weight and work this into a new habit. This is possible. I do know this. I know this because I have done it before. (Nov ’04 to Jun ’06 – when other sudden lifestyle changes up-ended my carefully built ‘habits’).

This isn’t going to be easy. It’s going to mean walking away from my art – I cannot cook and indulge in the kitchen creativity and make this work. (hush now all you who want to tell me I can, I know where my boundaries are, and I can’t). This won’t be, can’t be, a permanent thing, I do need my art, I need my studio, and my painting with flavours and colours and textures – but I need to swing the pendulum the other way for a while to find the balance. So, I’m willing to make this commitment to myself for a year, it should work, will I end up a 135lb 26 yr old at the end of it? Nope, but then that’s not what I’m expecting, I’m just wanting, needing, expecting, to reach a place in my life where I’m functional again, to reduce my chronic pain to a place where I can DO the things I want and need to do, to find the balance again. I was good with it in ’06, I can be good with it again.

And because emotionally, this is a tough place for me, I am embarrassed, I am already feeling the loss. I am already very clear about what I need and must do, I’d really rather not a lot of ‘rah rah hip hooray I know you can do this Vicky!’ cheering sections, there’s not much to cheer about here, I really don’t need pep talks or advice books or any of that. It’s the first step on a long hard road that by virtue of it’s very nature is intensely personal and I will walk it alone.

Just wish me well on the journey and I hope I find my way back

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Falling down the rabbit holes….

Every so often, being the kinda girl who finds everything fascinating, and always wanting to be well educated on subjects that do catch my interest….. sometimes I fall down these little rabbit holes in the internet. Following warren tunnel after warren tunnel of links and information that likely have very little to do with anything I’m working on at the moment. Yes I have lost whole days this way.

For the girl who used to get lost in an encyclopedia for a day when she only went to look up the population of Switzerland the internet can be an enormous time sink.

So this is where my morning went today:
A week or so ago someone emailed me this link reporting on a new study supposedly linking Autism to Vaccines. I’ll admit, I didn’t first off notice that the report was six years old. What I first noticed was that MNT wasn’t a website I was particularly familiar with but was at least attempting to appear to be a legitimate Medical News source. I also noticed the study was out of the University of Pittsburgh, not an disreputable source on the face of it, and was presented an IMFAR a not disreputable conference. (INFAR and IMFAR are tied up with Autism Research Institute – which is certainly considerably less flaky than some I still had issues with some of the research they funded and published back in the 90′s – when I was eating / breathing / sleeping – when I could / autism full time). So the University of Pittsburgh and IMFAR were attached to the study, suddenly it’s lent an air of credence and this is the danger of these sorts of websites and these kinds of reports. Most people don’t read any further, they get to the “research from the University of Pittsburgh” “presented at the IMFAR scientific conference” this isn’t crazy woo stuff – this is SCIENCE it must be true!

It’s why myself, who’s lived with autism as part of my daily life for over 20 years, and real scientists devoted to real research to help families get so pissed off at this stuff. I hated quakery then, I still hate it now. It takes advantage of people and detracts funds and efforts from truly helpful and meaningful research. However, being a good and diligent hater, I needed (for my own piece of mind) to debunk this nonsense. And yes, Vaccines cause Autism IS BUNK!

And I fell down the rabbit hole. Clue one that the study, despite it’s attempt to appear to be legitimate science news – the article gives it’s source as Safe Minds. Safe Minds is happy to tell you upfront on their front page that they’re anti-vaxers, “The purpose of SafeMinds is to restore health and protect future generations by eradicating the devastation of autism and associated health disorders induced by mercury and other toxicants from human activities.”

Looking at the paper presented, leads us to learn that once again our old friend Andrew Wakefield is involved in the research. So at this point most rational people go “oh THAT guy!” realize we can safely dismiss the paper as pure bunk and move on with our lives. Although I am still interested in knowing how the University of Pittsburgh got their name attached to this, and how it got any air time at IMFAR. I kept digging. In the end I read a lot of pages (from scary in their craziness to a bit unfathomable in their scientific-speak and everything in between) and I learned a lot more about Laura Hewiston than I ever wanted to know. To save you all a ton of reading I’ll give you the two links that best summed up the problems with the study and the ‘poster’ presentation at IMFAR and are probably the most readable.
From: Left Brain Right Brain – autism news science and opinion
And from: Science Blogs

Important lesson – just because the initial report LOOKS like it might be serious, worthwhile, ethical, science research – doesn’t mean you can trust the headline. Caveat Emptor folks, caveat emptor.

Then there was a second, although shorter rabbit hole.
A friend posted an interesting link to a report on a NASA funded study of which the upshot is – the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Ok, this isn’t exactly news to me. Honestly I’ve been saying it since the late 80′s/early 90′s, and I’d been saying it based on the same evidence. I did find it interesting that someone went out and developed a mathematical computer model to measure what I think is relatively evident to any student of world macrocosm history. But it was fun having all those intellectual arguments vindicated scientifically.

This of course led me to another interesting article about James Lovelock. (Yeah it’s 6 years old too – LOL) Frankly I’ve been a fan of Lovelock for some time, I was first introduced to his work and Gaia Theory in the BBC documentary series Beautiful Minds. Again like the NASA research the Gaia model was one and Lovelock’s assertions fit within a world view I already had and instinctively made sense to me. I’m not sure how much the author likes Lovelock, a lot of folks don’t,

“Sometimes he seems less clear-eyed with scientific vision than disposed to see the version of the future his prejudices are looking for.”

But then, don’t we all? The vindication of having the ideas and world view one’s developed over a lifetime published as solid scientific theory is pleasant. Particularly considering that while I have a background in science and engineering and specifically earth and weather science – I am no climate expert.

I did find it interesting that Martin Ogle, Chief Naturalist, for NVRPA, and long-time Gaia Theory proponent had not only organized the fourth Gaia Conference, (for which Lovelock did prepare a video presentation) but is also the owner of http://entrepreneurialearth.com/ and http://gaia.org – both of which seem to be bent on selling the kind of environmental sustainability woo that Lovelock has long dismissed.

Oddly enough these two rabbit holes kind of merge together somewhere in my large macrocosm view of life, the universe and everything. The world right now is a mad mad mad mad place. Just as the industrial revolution turned the world completely on it’s head and changed the entire social order of the world, so is the technological revolution, and it’s not done with us yet. Just as entire empires and civilizations such as Rome rose and then fell, so too is our civilization more than likely past it’s peak and about to crumble and fall. Just as the earth’s history has seen the rise and fall and change and growth of so many climate changes and populations and mass extinctions, so too I wonder if mankind is just a blip on the evolutionary scale of this planet. And somewhere in all that I think that the rise of madness, of tea partiers and science deniers and the distrust of organized anything, and medicine and technology is part of that pendulum swing the smarter we get as a race the less we trust our own invention. The more the technologies change the world the greater the backlash fighting against it.

Finally it’s part of that world view that mankind is on a crash course I’m not sure we can avoid, that has impelled us to move further and further away from urbanized civilization and head out for the fringes. It’s not that we don’t trust the technology or the government or medicine or social structures. For us, self sufficiency isn’t about eschewing civilization, we’re just not sure it’s going to be here 20 years from now.

One day I’ll have to tell you about my theory of the next coming plague, we’ll probably be able to blame the anti-vaxers for that.

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Photography …. a beginners course for real beginners.

woah … dude, I did not know that Freeman Patterson was still actively teaching..

One more thing to add to my bucket list – at $2200 for a 7 day workshop including accommodation and meals, it’s a rather reasonable thing (still outside my affordability price range – but reasonable)

However – it did prompt me to once again try to prod my darling talented husband into TEACHING me photography – I’m still very much a point my camera at it and hope for the best kinda gal. I’m good at that, and my auto cameras have been a great boon over the years, but I’m all too aware of what I don’t know. I’ve asked him a few times over the years to teach me the basics (he is a teacher of technical subjects after all) … and he would always end up explaining stuff too fast, or not giving me the key little itty bitty points of understanding the esoteric secret code buzz words of photographers. And even the Dummies books and Online Digital Photography Schools tend to presume a base level of knowledge I just didn’t have.


Today I pointed out that thanks to the prerequisites for the workshop I knew what I didn’t know and needed him to teach me.

In two hours this afternoon …. I finally after years of “WTF you talkin’ about Willis”, I finally finally GET f stops. I get it I get it I get it – the mathematics of it is simple….once you quit talking in buzz words.

In review:
f stops = less is more
shutter speed = less is more
film speed = more is more

and the ‘duh’ moment….. it’s all about the light.
(ok you photographers can quit laughing at me now – no one *ever* actually explained any of this to me…… it’s been a huge frustration for years, so this whole thing has been a water shed epiphany moment for me! Once you’ve learned it it’s basic and makes all kinds of sensible sense, but until someone actually teaches it to you – it’s all so much goobledy gook!)

f number is the length of the focal length of the lens (35mm/50mm/100mm) / diameter of the aperture
35 mm lens at f 4 = an aperture of 8.75
35 mm lens at f 8 = an aperture of 4.375
Because area is an exponential calculation f 4 is 4 times the light gathering of f 8
50 mm lens at f 4 = an aperture of 12.5
50 mm lens at f 8 = an aperture of 6.25

BUT…. because a shorter focal length (i.e. 35mm vs 50mm) has a WIDER field of view – it collects MORE light at the same f stop. Shorter focal length wider view: less = more Longer focal length narrower view: more = less.
Diagram of focal length
(excellent diagram on focal length from Clara Persis)

f number is equal across ALL lens, f number is the great equalizer. f 4 on a 50 mm lens is the same as f 4 on a 35 mm lens is the same as f 4 on a 100 mm lens.

So a 100 mm lens is twice the magnification of a 50 mm lens, and 1/4 of the light gathering BUT the f number i the equalizer.


Because area is exponential f 8 gathers 1/4 of the light that f 4 does. So to get half the amount of light you need to change the f stop by √2. √2 = 1 STOP. f 4 -> f 5.6 = 1 STOP or √2

My Fuji HS30EXR has a 24mm – 720 mm (135 film equivalent – that’s the film type for 35mm film) has an f stop range of 2.8-5.6 (James Olympus OM camera lenses go down to 1.4 …. but then those are his pro cameras)
(side bar the 55mm notation on the lens is the thread diameter for filter accessories)

Shutter speed
Twice as fast = half the light. More is less. So 1/60 of a second gathers half the light of 1/30 of a second.
f 5.6 at 1/30 sec = f 4 at 1/60 sec
less = more
less = more

If (because area is exponential) f 8 is 1/4 of the light of f 4 then 1/2 the light would be + √2 = f 5.6
f 5.6 has half the light of f 4 – but 1/30 sec has twice the light of 1/60 sec
so f 4 at 1/60 sec = f 5.6 at 1/30 sec.

Film speed:
the smaller the number the slower the film
(wtf? film doesn’t move how can it be fast or slow???)

speed is the speed of the chemical reaction or how FAST the chemical coating on the film reacts to


135 film (ie 35mm) usually came in ASA (or ISO) 25 50 64 80 100 125 160 200 400 and 800
new digital give you the option of 1600 3200 and 6400 and even 12,800 (but that’s getting into the crazy stupid range)

Soooooooooooooo double the film speed, twice the light gathering – more = more

50 ISO at 1/60 sec at f 4 = 50 ISO at 1/30 sec at f 5.6
100 ISO at 1/60 sec at f 5.6 = 100 ISO at 1/30 sec at f 8

These relationships are known as reciprocity.
Reciprocity failure is when due to shooting at the extreme limits of a film the chemical reactions can not quite meet these rules and relationship and the photo fails despite all the numbers being right due to chemical failure.

Here we quit, due to my brain explodey…

………. Next up….
Depth of field

(note for self …. an excellent article on the practical applications of these principles)

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