Snaptember week 4 - streets and flowers

Sunflower head
Oh my eyes and shutters, I'm missing week 3 of Snaptember. (And the June and July compilations, and goodness knows how many weekly strips, but everything in its own time.) Term has begun, and I'm busy reading academic papers significant chapters position papers victim testimonies moodle books nice guidelines serious case reviews and the background reading that should have been done before before. Would like to do better than scrape a pass this time, but aim to complete, anything else is great. Anything else? Oh yes, as part of my reading ramp-up I read Lost Cat - A True Story of Love Desperation and GPS Technology. It's tiny - not even an evening's read. But lovely.

Monday 22nd - peachy evening light



The evening sun glancing into my studio showing; cluttered desk, calendar, Dali clock.Read more...Collapse )

The War Monument Dream

Sunflower head
A dream I had on Wednesday morning started with us living in a house in a smaller town. It was built into a hill, and we had a short back garden full of mosses and ferns that abruptly finished on a cliff, taller than the house. There was a pick-your-way down path that lead up it to the grassy topfield, which was ours up to a tall spreading Oak tree. Beyond that it belonged to the school, a boarding school full of serious children who misbehaved, but quietly. We knew they snuck into the field and even sometimes down the cliff - I had in fact planted some good springy bushes along the base, to minimise the damage should somebody slip - but no damage was done, not even the cat scared. Read more...Collapse )

Snaptember week three - out & about

Sunflower head
The light coming through the upstairs window is the colour of peaches gone overripe. September is such a show-off of a month. Pretty though. Outside, Harley and the big black cat from two doors down are playing uncertain cat chess. I just gave them a round of co-treating, to see if they'll start relaxing together. Back when Teasel was likely to come out into the garden, and might need protecting, she gave him short shrift but now she's slightly confused around him. I think maybe she's missing the company of a tall handsome black cat. Term has just begun. There is a big slew of course reading just waiting for me to get started on it. And here I am, mumbling about DZ Deathrays and Tent/Superbrands and a visit from Mum-of-the-North, turquoise hair and all of the rest of Snaptember Week 3.

Monday 15th - Sunflower head sees DZ Deathrays



This DZ Deathrays, we got free tickets to see them upstairs at the Zodiac for a sort of pre-tour shakedown gig. They were the perfect counterpoint to Monday. This is their ballad kind of - it has a very Crystal World video. And there's the one that's famous on youtube. I also took my new userpic on Monday, after finding a sunflower floating in a swirl of autumn leaves in the Thames.Read more...Collapse )
Sunflower head
Second week got off to a shakey start when I failed to take a photograph. Some Mondays are like that, of course. You roll out of bed and spend a desperate hour watering the garden (which is grumpily withering in this awful September drought), jog down the tow-path into work while peevishly fielding emails on the pocket monster, don't stop all bloody day (and still fail to clear the job list), come home just in time to empty the roomba, feed the cat, check the moodle in case term began when you weren't looking, cook and then collapse into the chore list which today included, well...

September 8th - Winnowing the wardrobe



I keep a daily sketch diary. Only the occasional picture makes it onto the internet because as you can see I don't bother finishing the pictures (and often it's a bit, eh, personal). It's great for supporting my memory and identifying what happened when. It's going to end up needing its own shelf, though! Today I was clearing out the wardrobe. The dress I'm wearing is a little black sequinned number with pockets over the hips deep enough to conceal a bottle of wine. It's awesome, but it does my legs no favours, which I think came across in the picture.

willows, pie and a rant about a lizardCollapse )

If you're wondering about what happened to Friday, the answer is a bottle of wine.

Snaptember

am-i-o
I've been reading the various Snaptember stories, especially those from mockduck, jinty and pomma_penses with interest. The Snaptember concept, if I have it right, is that you simply record a snap from wherever you are that day, without any aim beyond showing what it around you that day. So far I've seen it recording workspaces, home environment, family members, trips, aspirations, projects and more. I've been thinking about joining in, but the way I use my camera (load it for a week, then review it, then upload) feels a bit off brief. But, on the other hand...

September 1st - Tim cuts the Krim



Black Krim is a popular home grow tomato which I've tried for the first time this year. Not the last! It looks very strange but the flavour is quite lovely - rich, sweet, and slightly meaty. Just visible: Bovril. I'm not a fan (except when ill) but timscience (wielding the knife) likes it.

September Snaptember week 1, below the cutCollapse )

Week two should feature fewer vegetables and more pie, as September progresses to its logical end.

Can we fix it? Yes we can!

e-topup
This week found me thinking (as the term's reading started - I'm on a book about cyberbullying at the moment) and as I went to visit/wok with/help out various people with complicated lives (multiple children, responsibilities, complexities) about how important behaviour modification is in life. So that's what I'm putting in as the Friday poll -- what do you think? Is better living through habit (or habitat) modification a possibility? Or does it trigger the stress of resistance. Where is the true value coming from? Is it the actions you take, or the proof that you can boss someone around effectively - even if it's just yourself? Without further ado, to the poll. Argue with the questions and share the stories that are too long for the boxes in the comments below. I've kept the theory and philosophy out of the poll (mostly) but feel free to cut loose on all that stuff below. Enjoy!

Poll #1980985 Lazy neurological hacks
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13

Do you attempt to modify your behaviour using techniques, behaviour, equipment or other tools?

View Answers
No, and I don't think it works
0 (0.0%)
No, and I think it's ethically dubious
0 (0.0%)
No, but I have in the past/will in the future
0 (0.0%)
Maybe, but not in a structured way
2 (15.4%)
I think it's just a relabelling of normal behaviour
5 (38.5%)
Yes, but work and annoying and aaargh
1 (7.7%)
Yes, and it makes stuff better
4 (30.8%)
I am hacking my neuros as I answer
1 (7.7%)

Things that I do to myself:

View Answers
Sticker charts and reward schemes
2 (6.2%)
Mindfulness, meditation, time out, reflection
5 (15.6%)
Food and drink nudges (small plates, portion control etc.)
7 (21.9%)
Reminders for things other than appointments (e.g.
7 (21.9%)
Nagging apps, lists and notes to self
8 (25.0%)
Other things which I will say below
2 (6.2%)
I would never manipulate myself I have too much respect for myself
1 (3.1%)

This smart new habit has totally revolutionised my life!

Things I do with other people (staff, children, pupils, partners, parents)

View Answers
Make changes to their environment to change their behaviour
1 (9.1%)
Use check-lists, forms, and written instructions
2 (18.2%)
Use an informal reward system like stickers or stars
2 (18.2%)
Use a formal reward systems like bonuses or awards
1 (9.1%)
Use distraction or diversion
3 (27.3%)
Use threats or ultimatums
1 (9.1%)
Other things which I will say below
1 (9.1%)
I would never manipulate others I have too much respect for them
0 (0.0%)

This crazy trick helps you CHANGE how other people behave - guaranteed!

I use other things to regulate or improve my behaviour, such as

View Answers
Manipulating my appearance and self presentation to boost confidence etc.
7 (18.4%)
Using food or drink to boost alertness, promote relaxation, reduce irritation
9 (23.7%)
Using drugs to regulate or improve my emotions/effectiveness
2 (5.3%)
Using exercise/physical activity to bleed off or boost energy levels, improve wellbeing, etc.
9 (23.7%)
Kittens! (or other pets)
7 (18.4%)
Guilt / internalised nagging
4 (10.5%)
Another thing I will say below
0 (0.0%)

Behaviour modification is:

View Answers
Brilliant! Sign me up for a Skinner box and bring me all the drugs on the internet
1 (3.6%)
Sometimes helpful, but not the answer to all things
7 (25.0%)
Irrelevant. Fundamentally people do what they want and post-rationalise.
3 (10.7%)
Risky! There's lots of very bad woo to avoid in this area
1 (3.6%)
Best avoided, unless a professional is involved
1 (3.6%)
Best avoided, especially if there's a professional involved
3 (10.7%)
A constant struggle against an impossible mountain of ungovernable urges
2 (7.1%)
STICKERS!!!!!!!!!!
1 (3.6%)
Unacceptable! Kick back against the man/woman/teacher/cat/computer that is trying it on you
0 (0.0%)
The backbone of civilized society
1 (3.6%)
The elephant in the room
0 (0.0%)
The room in the elephant
3 (10.7%)
To be embraced not feared
3 (10.7%)
Unnecessary in the future
0 (0.0%)
The future
2 (7.1%)

The most extraordinary/daft/strange attempt at behaviour modification ever tried on me is:

Reasonable Adjustments to the workplace

takecover
This week, following the big reveal of Google's new offices, an uptick in the working year caused by beginning of term/legislation/etc. and memories of how, when working from home, my cat used to cuff my mouse hand in a way that was simultaneously a purr-enabled wrist massage and a tummy tickle for him, I have been thinking about workplace adjustment. I need to think about this at work (yes I know, timscience, blah blah healthy and safety blah blah risk assessment) and the thought runs along these lines - what does this person need to work as well as they can? It's a useful exercise to do on yourself too, so today's poll is for the working bods among you. Those retired or out of the workplace for other reasons may wish to consider when they last were, respond as if their main activities were work or do what you will. Think out of the box, in the box, go to the comments below and enjoy!

Poll #1980233 Reasonable Adjustments
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 29

In order to acheive 110% productivity I need this adjustment to my workplace

View Answers
Break out area containing cubby-holes, hidey holes, hammocks and nap zones
8 (12.7%)
Soft play area so I can bang my head against the wall safely
4 (6.3%)
An office cat (smaller offices may substitute a chinchilla)
15 (23.8%)
An office honeyglider flock (I will happily write the guano risk assessment)
2 (3.2%)
Roof garden/balcony garden/windowbox
13 (20.6%)
Zip wire, ladder or chute access between floors
2 (3.2%)
Punch bag you can gaffer tape photos to
4 (6.3%)
Gym or exercise area (ideally with standing workstations)
5 (7.9%)
Calming or chill-out area with lots of coloured lights and natural sounds
6 (9.5%)
A zen room (empty white box)
3 (4.8%)
I have a better idea and will say so below!
1 (1.6%)

I already use this productvity aid at work:

View Answers
Ergonomic adjustments like a chair, wrist rest, etc.
16 (22.9%)
Temperature adjustments like a fan
5 (7.1%)
Comfort adjustments like a cushion or cardigan
12 (17.1%)
Computer programmes which help order tasks
4 (5.7%)
Computer programmes which help force good workstation behaviour (enforced breaks etc.)
2 (2.9%)
Tea, coffee or water breaks
22 (31.4%)
Cat/Kitten
3 (4.3%)
Something else and it really helps my productivity
3 (4.3%)
Something else and it really hinders my productivity
1 (1.4%)
My productivity is already overclocked and needs reining in before it kills me
2 (2.9%)

My working day is typically:

View Answers
More hours than I spend sleeping
15 (51.7%)
Fewer hours than I spend sleeping
5 (17.2%)
About the same
9 (31.0%)

I work at the weekends

View Answers
Regularly because of flexi/work requirements with TOIL
2 (6.9%)
Regularly because TOO MUCH WORK
5 (17.2%)
Ehhh sometimes you need to that's life
4 (13.8%)
Only when a rush is on/for special events/at certain times of the year
12 (41.4%)
Never - they are sacrosanct!
6 (20.7%)

Do you work out of work time?

View Answers
Yes, I do my own projects - it keeps me fresh
11 (23.4%)
Yes I volunteer - I like to be useful
8 (17.0%)
Yes I run my own business in my spare time because I am a crazed workaholic
3 (6.4%)
Yes I have children or other significant home commitments
4 (8.5%)
No, downtime is precious
4 (8.5%)
No, I am too tired/drained
6 (12.8%)
No, I am too busy having fun
5 (10.6%)
I wouldn't really call it work...
6 (12.8%)

Do you wish there was more time to get everything done?

View Answers
Yes
24 (100.0%)

What gets you through the working day?

Productivity is:

View Answers
A myth perpetrated by goverment to enable social control
6 (13.6%)
A myth perpetrated by business to enable economic control
8 (18.2%)
An inevitable outcome of our biosocial urges
4 (9.1%)
Something which needs to slow down before habital destruction occurs
8 (18.2%)
Damaging to our emotional/social/mental health
8 (18.2%)
Supportive to our emotional/social/mental health
6 (13.6%)
A philiosophical construct the world is outgrowing
3 (6.8%)
Another thing I will say below
1 (2.3%)

Today I am looking forward to:



Edited to add: I missed an answer on the "Do you work out of work time?" question which is WHAT IS OUT OF WORK TIME (thank you the academics in the room). Sorry - there's a comment below you can type YES at now. And I spotted the dreaded poll typo (they are sadly uncorrectable) - habital should be habitat. Also, there's a hint that people may feel that the poll is a bit office-y but I am also interested in other workplaces. Work outside? In a soft play area? In a pit full of kittens? Still interested. Go to the comments if the poll doesn't quite get to how your workplace/work/working practice supports or hinders your wellbeing. Thanks everybody your answers are great!

thanks all for your words about Teasel

toes!
I've not responded individually yet, but I will. Thanks all, those who knew him, looked after him and those who'd seen him as a little black furry shadow teaselling around in the background (or foreground) of my comics, or blog, thank you all. And oh, the tag-sorted databases. I've been searching under all the various misspellings of his name (I misspelled his name) and cursing Flickr's latest rounds of changes which mean that the route back to timeline context from a photo found by searching has been obliterated (...) but I did manage to find this video from when we were moving house and there were boxes everywhere and we were worried about him but he was fine with the move and all he wanted to do was play in his kingdom of boxes and remind us to FEAR THE PAW.



Also: this.

mightyhuntress
Yesterday I was out in the garden hacking things into shape while the raspberries sprounted a previously unknown pest (some sort of tiny beetle, which combines with rainwater to create mush and mould) and the slugs savaged the blueberries (still got a little bowl of blueberry goodness!) and the Passion Vine (doing very well in this tropical weather) attempted to engulf me whenever I brushed against it.

The vegetable kingdom is a savage place, sometimes. Friday's question is about that, and is a for-fun question - how do you relate to vegetables? As ever, go to comments with philosophical arguments with the poll, discussions of gardens of your past and future, amusing stories about vegetables, amusing pictures of vegetables and anything else that sparks your fancy.

Poll #1978784 The vegetable kingdom
Open to: All, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 20

Me and the veg when I was a kid (tick as many as you want)

View Answers
Hated, feared, loathed and despised all vegetables because that is nature's way
1 (3.1%)
Hated veg probably becaus of how they were cooked TBH
3 (9.4%)
Hated veg because I am so old that none of the good vegetables were available when I was a kid
4 (12.5%)
Was indifferent to vegetablekind/found them tolerable
6 (18.8%)
Was indifferent to vegetablekind/found them tasty
7 (21.9%)
Liked my vegetables for they were pretty colours
2 (6.2%)
Liked my vegetables for the tasty taste
4 (12.5%)
Thought vegetables were the best thing ever
2 (6.2%)
Refused to eat anything but vegetables
2 (6.2%)
Worshipped vegetables (or a particular vegetable)
1 (3.1%)

My view of the vegetable kingdom now is:

View Answers
A cornucopia of deliciousness waiting to be discovered
11 (28.9%)
A minefield of the tasty and the terrible, waiting to be picked through
7 (18.4%)
Out-of-control self-replicating nanotechnology that must be made safe by cooking
3 (7.9%)
A useful way to control the water flow around my house
1 (2.6%)
Like a stupid Facebook game, but you get tasty treats a the end!
1 (2.6%)
A perpetual fight against mould, wilt, rust, black spot, slugs and other pests and diseases
5 (13.2%)
Aaaaaaaaaa-tchoooo! (hayfever)
4 (10.5%)
That green stuff that gets everywhere
3 (7.9%)
That green stuff at the bottom of the fridge
1 (2.6%)
Approach with caution; that stuff can kill you (or at least cause a nasty stomach ache)
2 (5.3%)

If the opportunity were available, I would definitely

View Answers
Grow/support the growth of genetically modified foods (subject to safety checks)
7 (15.9%)
Live in a treehouse (if sufficiently awesome)
13 (29.5%)
Have plants in my living space that performed active jobs like pest and dirt control
14 (31.8%)
Wear growing plants on a semi-permenant basis
3 (6.8%)
Get some chloropyll in me to reduce my food and fuel needs
7 (15.9%)

Things I grow at the moment

View Answers
Grass
9 (9.7%)
Moss
9 (9.7%)
Mould
9 (9.7%)
Buddleia
6 (6.5%)
Daffodills
6 (6.5%)
Tomatoes
3 (3.2%)
Roses
9 (9.7%)
Potatoes
3 (3.2%)
Snowdrops
6 (6.5%)
Red Hot Chilli Peppers
2 (2.2%)
There's some green stuff outside
12 (12.9%)
There's some green stuff inside
10 (10.8%)
There's some green stuff on my car
2 (2.2%)
All the flowers in the world
3 (3.2%)
Another thing which I will tell you about below
4 (4.3%)

The most amazing/striking/confusing thing I have ever grown is:

I already have/would like to have in my garden/yard

View Answers
A lawn
10 (11.6%)
A pond
10 (11.6%)
A hedge
7 (8.1%)
A tree
15 (17.4%)
A greenhouse
5 (5.8%)
A summerhouse
9 (10.5%)
More sun
9 (10.5%)
A firepit
6 (7.0%)
Exotic wildlife (please say what in comments)
7 (8.1%)
Unexotic wildlife (say what if you want to)
8 (9.3%)

On the whole, the green stuff:

View Answers
Loves me and wants to be my friend
3 (11.1%)
Sees me as potential useful organic fertiliser
5 (18.5%)
Is all around my and within me, man
4 (14.8%)
Is banished beyond the tidy wall of civolization
1 (3.7%)
Will conquer our ruins
14 (51.9%)

Pick one thing you will grow in your garden next year:

Dispatches from the other side of the cat

Teasel Cat
Dear old cat is in a fragile state at the moment. In his grand old age (he's twenty you know) he has settled on the sofa, precisely between me and my cranky lugtop* that tends to need a bit of mending. Reaching across him and lifting it over to my lap seems a little risky (it's one of those old Dells with the wide screens, and it's heavy) so I scoot round and sit on the footstool arrangement we have in place to facilitate his lordship's ascent to the sofa.

Alas, this places me on direct route between him and his food/litter tray/water carefully elevated on an old cat food box to bring it into his easy reach. This, along with my fussing him, creates a kind of restlessness, which translates into wanting to get off the sofa. So I must get out his way, and quickly enough to avoid him taking a riskier route and ending up wrapped around a coffee table leg after a depth perception fail or bouncing off the chair after a leap falls short.

Naturally, he didn't really want to get off the sofa, so it's not really worth my going back to the laptop, particularly as the next thing he's going to do is beg for his lost youth in the middle of the kitchen, which will require some gentle soothing strokes and a few sips of water (which can get extended enough to require me sitting cross legged in the middle of the kitchen helping him drink for a full round of Disco Zoo**).

Then he'll come back to the sofa, and the dance will start again.

He's too lovely for this to be annoying in any way (as anyone who knows Teasel knows - this is the cat who will put an extra purr on his purrs because he heard you liked purrs***) but it is making me a little slower to speak and respond at the moment. This doesn't mean I'm not looking when I can, and responding as much as I'm able and I definitely care but oh, little cat.

*Lugtop = a laptop large enough to give you pins and needles in your knees should you be foolhardy enough to use it directly on lap.

**Disco Zoo = A smartphone game where you "rescue" animals in a variety of cheerfully coloured helicopters from various exotic parts of the world to put in your disco zoo. When the animals fall asleep they stop earning money, so you need to wake them up with a Disco party; when you get too many animals to fit in the pens, you can either release them or send them into space. Releasing them gets you more Disco parties, but then you miss out on prepping a bear for space (platypus, unicorn, polar bear).

***One of our friends hypothesises that Teasel has a double purr-o-tron; we think he may have our other cat's purr (which is almost too tiny to hear) in addition to his own.