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Playing games

 Owsin has several boxes of toys in our lounge, but they don't get used much.

The items that get far and away the most use are:

1.   A wooden spoon carved for me by Alex Holden

2.  A box of cheap plastic beads from a charity shop

3.  A couple of bowls from various sources (Tibetan singing bowl, glass bowl I won in a raffle, and a wooden bowl used for dice)

This combination allows beads to be spooned from one container to another, and is the raw ingredient (along with the lounge table) for playing Birdie House.

The plastic beads are birdseed, and are eaten by the bird family in large quantities, though they can also be worms, beetles, etc.

Yesterday, she discovered a dried up seahorse that I'd found in a box somewhere and left on the windowsill for her to find.

Off the back of that, we looked at pictures of seahorses online and a couple of videos.

So, we became a seahorse family for the rest of the day (and the beads became seaweed, which was duly served up and eaten)

I was told we had to get the finger puppet animals from the toy box, as they were going to be baby seahorses.  I got nominated as daddy seahorse (mummy seahorse got to give daddy seahorse the eggs to put into the pouch) and had to tuck them into the waistband of my trousers.  When her turn came around, she improvised a pouch from some left over Xmas wrapping paper. 

Later on she said she wanted mummy seahorse to have the pouch.  After a discussion about mummy seahorses not having pouches, a switch to kangaroos was agreed, and Grandad drew the short straw of being a kangaroo while I escaped to wash the dishes!

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Grandchildren are fun!

 Oswin came with me and her mother last week to visit her Great Grandparents.  We went by train.  
Oswin likes trains... They live close to a railway line and Mummy is working on a model steam engine when she has the tools and the time.

She plays 'Birdie house' with me a lot.

This is a game largely of her own invention in which she and I are birds living in a house under the lounge table.  The species vary. I was really fascinated the day we had an owl and a goldfinch sharing the house.  Oswin explained that we were on a shift system: the nightbird slept in the bed during the day while the goldfinch was out, and the goldfinch had the bed at night when the owl was out. (Grandad is a bird watcher, can you tell?)
Anyway, this last week, the birds have been going on train journeys, getting tickets, getting on and off trains, looking out the window, having our tickets checked, etc.  When I asked her where we were going on the train, she replied: "The place where the worms are."  And indeed, when the imaginary train arrived, she got off and dug up imaginary worms with an imaginary trowel (the birds have an allotment too, so she knows what trowels are for).  then we ate our worm sandwiches, with a few extra beetles and some birdseed on the way home.

Yesterday, they had road works on the way to her nursery school, so her mum took her by train (they live very close to a station and it's only a short hop into Poole).

A very understanding man at the ticket office gave Oswin her own little paper 'ticket' with 'ticket' written on it.   When they got on the train, she wanted her ticket inspected, so they went and found the ticket inspector who got into the spirit of things and duly checked her 'ticket' and marked it.

The relief driver heard the conversation and popped out to see what was going on.

"Do you know what kind of train this is?" he asked.

Oswin: "It's a 444"

Gobsmacked driver (because she was correct) "And how many carriages does it have?"

Oswin: "5"

Driver: "What's the other kind of train?"  

Oswin: "450"

Driver: "How old are you!"

Oswin: "3"

I suspect he'll be telling that story for a while....

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Tiny things to help the world

We only have one planet and it's in trouble.

Sadly, this is the point where a fair percentage of readers will skip ahead to the next journal.  Everyone knows it's a problem.  Some simply can't deal with it as they're too stressed out already, some feel they can't make a difference and some aren't willing to change their lifestyle even though it would make a difference.

So, let's try some tiny changes which might be within people's grasp. 

We need to reduce our use of plastics and reduce our consumption of food.  If we can benefit in other ways at the same time, then that is a plus. 

Social pressure is one of the biggest drivers of what we do and when it comes to social pressure, it's hard for anyone to make the first move.

My husband decided to lose weight last year.  He managed a slow steady loss and ended up several stone lighter and has kept that new weight.  He didn't go on a diet, he just changed a few habits.

One habit was biscuits.  He stopped eating biscuits.

To make that easier, we stopped putting biscuits on the table when we invited our gaming friends round. (If they asked, biscuits were still available, but they rarely did so.)  

What was really interesting was that after a couple of months, our gaming friends (who were also trying to lose weight) stopped putting biscuits out when we visited.

Social pressure had let all of us to put biscuits out, as there is the fear of appearing mean if you don't.  As it turned out, we were all perfectly happy without them, but it had needed someone to make that first move.

So, a tiny change, but less plastic wrappers, less food consumed, less fuel to move it around, and a beneficial aid to losing weight.
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Living Will

 I have seen my mother-in-law dying slowly when her expressed wishes were to die quickly (she had bowel cancer, there was no way she would recover and the last two weeks were slow and messy).

My mother is not far from the end, I suspect. She has multiple issues and is frail. She too has said to me that she would like to be allowed to pass away.  She said that they make us stay alive for too long.  (It's that phrase *make* that is the killer. The NHS will provide operations, great hospital care, but they keep on treating, even when removing it would be in line with the patient's wishes)

Molly was an atheist, my mother is Christian. Religious belief doesn't seem to be a factor.

I feel exactly the same way myself.  If I reach a stage where I am incontinent, immobile and with no chance of ever being fit and healthy again, then I will want the right to ask for an end to my life.

Some countries/states are gradually introducing legislation for assisted dying, I hope that the UK will eventually join them.

Yes, we need protection for those who don't want to end their life, but we also need protection for those dying in pain, embarrassment and boredom.

I can still hear Molly saying to me "I'm bored." She was blind, she could do none of the things that had given her life pleasure for 80+ years.  She was confined to bed, incontinent and in pain. Yet she had to spend two weeks in that condition against her expressed wishes.  She was an intelligent woman in full possession of her faculties, as is my mother.

When will we get the right to choose when to die?

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How does telepathy work?

How does telepathy work?

Now given that telepathy doesn't actually exist, it's a bit difficult to come up with good physics...

However, this is Stargate, and thus any reasonably convincing pseudoscience will do. :)

I have a character with a limited degree of telepathy/empathy.  Usually comes across as being lucky at playing cards, guessing what people will do next, that kind of thing.  Rarely extends to actual mind-reading (except when under the influence of things caused by aliens/alien technology/etc.).

It has no distance limitation (we're talking interstellar here), but definitely words best in physical proximity.

It also works best with people the telepath has an emotional connection with.

I have a couple of canonical alien devices that can heal/tweak human physiology.  (Hey, this is Stargate SG-1, they have stacks of alien artefacts that have to be shipped to Area 51, so they can't be used to solve a problem in the next episode....   I'm shipping some of them out again <grin>)

What can I do in terms of pseudoscientific explanation (because I like my pseudoscience to be as close to real science as possible) to describe/manipulate this ability?

I'd love to come up with something that included electromagnetic radiation, but as far as I can see, the lack of a distance limitation means that speed of light screws up that theory.

Anyone care to suggest mechanisms by which telepathy might work?

Let your imagination run riot!

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Overcoming writers block

 About 15 years ago I wrote a Stargate SG-1 novel and a sequel.

Then, I got Jossed and never got started on the third volume of the Trilogy. (the first two novels do complete some plot arcs, so you're not left dangling too badly on all fronts)

However, I did make a lot of notes for it, and I recently did the Stargate Alphabet Soup challenge in the hope that it would get me writing again, and it seems to be working, as I'm near the end of a brand new chapter.

What I need is encouragement as I have a whole novel to get through.  And it's an old fandom, so I know I won't pick up many new readers.

Here's how you can help...

If anyone has the patience to read the first two volumes (they're relatively short by novel standards) and leaves a comment at the end, then I undertake to write a minimum of 200 words (and 500 if it's a really interesting comment) on the third volume for each comment.  People who have read it before, still get to claim their words if they haven't previously left a comment.

It's Stargate SG-1, set around the end of season 5, at the time when the team consisted of Jack, Daniel, Sam and Teal'c.  It's gen fic, though it does contain some relationships.  My aim was to give all the team a strong role to play and to make good use of many minor characters from the series.  It's also AU and will resolve many plot lines in a different way (and to my mind more aesthetically pleasing) than the route taken in the series.

The first volume is here - https://archiveofourown.org/works/392002/chapters/643582

Jack O'Neill and Harry Maybourne have very different approaches to ethics. Jack believes in honour and honesty. Harry believes the ends justify the means.

When Jack's daughter from a parallel reality comes through the stargate, both Jack and Harry find that their past (canonical) decisions have unforeseen consequences. What price are they willing to pay to put things right again? Can they work together? How far can Maybourne be trusted?

Jack and Sam have many difficult decisions to face. Can they maintain the careful balance of their working relationship while juggling with their feelings for one another?

How will Cassandra cope with tragedy, guilt, and the strangest friendship of her life?

This novel starts 3/4 of the way through the fifth season, shortly before Meridian and takes its own course through history after the events of 'Last Stand'.

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Towel cookery

 My daughter phoned last night. She was greatly amused and knew that we would love to hear what our granddaughter was doing.

Oswin has a little toy kitchen and she was playing at cookery.  She'd made her meal, put it into a pan to cook, and then put a towel on top of the pan.

She got that from us.  We actually do use towels when cooking some meals.  They're a simplified version of hay box cookery.  

When making something like a casserole, get it all in, simmer it for several mins, then turn off the heat and wrap a thick fluffy towel over the top. Wrap it like a turban (or any shape that uses all the towel and makes sure that no heat escapes).  If it's an electric cooker, be very careful that the towel does not touch the element (you don't want to set it on fire and electric hobs can stay hot for some time - be sure the casserole dish/pan is covering the hot part completely)

You can keep something cooking merrily for half an hour or more this way.  If you need a longer cook, just remove the towel, bring back to simmer for a minute or two and then turn off the heat and put the towel back on.

There are several great advantages to this trick.

Firstly, you cannot burn the food.  If you're not exactly sure when your meal needs to be ready, you can keep it lovely and hot without needing to stir it.  (the heat is coming from within, rather than from below, so the food will not stick to the bottom and burn)

Secondly, you use less electricity and cooking uses a lot of energy.

It's dead easy to do.  Even a three year old can remember!

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Historic quilts

I don't know if any of you are into quilting. I don't do it myself, but my sister, Carolyn,  is an expert quilter.

Even as I collect old dances as well as writing new ones, she collects old quilts as well as making new ones.

She has several interesting ones in her collection, showing a wide range of techniques, and they demonstrate traditional patterns and techniques from different regions.

I've been reading her website the last couple of days, and I've found the descriptions and photos of these historical quilts to be really interesting.

Here's one example. This is a Welsh wholecloth quilt, probably made in the 1930s.

Fascinating design, and worked with a lot of skill. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.


Longsword locks

If the longsword photos didn't work for you, try now - https://watervole.dreamwidth.org/639401.html?view=3965353&posted=1#cmt3965353

I've redone all the images from Flickr instead of Google photos. I'd forgotten that you can't even cut and past images from Google photos, let along link to them. (They look fine when I'm putting the entry together, but I don't think anyone else can see them)

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Q is for Quantum

"Events are discrete in nature. Either I go on holiday to Peru or I don't."
Carter's voice was kinda soothing when she was in monologue mode.
"Fascinating mummies in Peru," Daniel chipped in.
"If you're into dead children," Jack said, leaning back in his chair.
Daniel stared at him with amazement. "You read my paper!"
Jack blinked rapidly. "Saw it on the Discovery channel."
"If I go to Peru," Carter continued firmly, "then that is a discrete event."
"What necessity makes you require secrecy?"
"Why do you need to be discreet?"
"Discrete, Teal'c." Jack drawled. "Means 'separate'. Carter's saying that something like a photon either is or isn't. You can't have half a photon. Quantum theory really pisses off people who think in terms of light waves."
"You read my article?"
"It's amazing what you can learn from the back of cereal packets."
And Carter was off again, explaing how the Quantum Mirror could only show an Aleph-naught number of infinite universes, because each universe was created by a decision made by an individual and the number of decisions was an integer not a real number.
Maybe, somewhere, there was an alternate universe where Jack O'Neill didn't find this stuff fascinating.
He yawned. "Time to call it a night, kids. Think I might do a little star-gazing before I go to bed." Half an hour's observation, then he might complete that article for 'Astronomy Monthy.' Under a pseudonym, of course.

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Judith Proctor


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