Sunday, April 27, 2014

BADD 2014

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2014

The ninth annual Blogging Against Disablism day will be on Thursday, 1st May. This is the day where all around the world, disabled and non-disabled people blog about their experiences, observations and thoughts about disability discrimination (known as disablism or ableism). In this way, we hope to raise awareness of inequality, promote equality and celebrate the progress we've made.

Due to the overwhelming everythingness of last year, I didn't participate in BADD 2013. However, I loved taking part in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. I'm thrilled that it's happening again in 2014.

BADD is not just for disabled people. If you feel like you have anything to say on the topic, then please go to Diary Of A Goldfish (Blogging Against Disablism Day) to sign up.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bank Holiday

The bank holiday weekend managed to coincide with some absolutely magnificent weather, so on Friday we loaded up the car - me with my picnic blanket and knitting, Steve and a friend with more camera equipment than you can shake a stick at - and set off for Wales in search of Scenery.

It'll be a while before the lads get round to uploading anything from their Big Cameras, but here's a snapshot from Steve's action cam:

Lake Vyrnwy

This is Lake Vyrnwy, as viewed from a picnic spot accessible from the perimeter road. Getting from the parking area to the grass, while only a few metres, was a bit precarious in places. I opted for wobbling rather than wheeling, although I think a fit person in a more sporty chair might well manage. No filters have been added to the picture - the sky really was that blue. I started off knitting on my blanket, but after a couple of rounds I was just sprawled out, soaking up the sunshine and listening to the water.

We considered trying to visit the area by the waterfall where Steve and I got engaged, but the track now has a locked gate across it, so we had to abandon that plan. It's slightly sad that I won't be able to get to it again, but we're not planning to get engaged again, so it's not too much of a tragedy. And it was a bit of a dire track.

So instead, we carried on with a scenic drive along to Bala, with another couple of stops around the lake there. I seem to have avoided getting sunburnt, although that's more luck than judgement. It's a good start to the summer.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Doorbell: a revision

I waited oh-so-patiently for the sugru to set. The full 24 hours, and then an extra night's sleep to be on the safe side and to share the trial run with Steve (only fair since it was him who sourced the doorbell itself and created the mp3 for it to play).


The sugru blob I'd made - thick enough to accommodate the smiley face drawn onto it - was, when set, too thick to be flexible enough to push the doorbell-button through it with a single finger. It was also too large in diameter to press the button with it, as the whole red circle couldn't go into the casing.

I haven't explained that well, but the upshot was that the only way to press the doorbell was to hold the unit in your hand and squeeze as hard as possible. Not really practical.

In retrospect, the sugru blob needed to be smaller than the original button, or thin enough to be bendy, or both. At least, unlike with the daffodils I ruined, I know what I did wrong.

Thankfully, the folks at sugru are aware that their products may be used by the inept and hard-of-thinking and give tips on their website for how to remove it. A few minutes of running my fingernail around and around the red button loosened it enough for me to be able to peel it away.

As a happy side effect, the previously white button has taken on some of the red hue from the sugru, making it visible - which was the original aim.

I've managed to correctly spell my name, so that's something.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Bill Bailey's Devil's Interval Doorbell

The other night, Steve and I were watching Bill Bailey's Tinselworm. It's entertaining in many ways - interesting as well as funny - and we've both watched it several times before.

For some reason, this time, we got to the section on doorbells...

... and looked at each other.

To the internet!

Step one: a doorbell which can be personalised. Soon Steve had found one that would play mp3s from an SD card.

Step two: creating an mp3 of the notes we wanted. The notes in question are at about 1:50 on that YouTube clip. But trying to get those few seconds from the DVD, without the crowd sounds, would have been tricky. Since we only needed three notes - and since Steve has enough of a musical ear to be able to identify what those notes are - the free trial version of Pianoteq was our friend here.

Step three was a poor design issue. The "button" part of the doorbell is white, and the bit you press, is also white. It needed to be more visible. Clearly a job for Sugru.

Twenty-four hours for the Sugru to set, and then who knows how long desperately waiting for somebody, anybody, to press the doorbell...

Tuesday, April 08, 2014



These are the daffodils that had not yet bloomed at the time I was messing up primary school science. The ones in the black pot on the right, as you can see, were not so fortunate.

The two in front seem to have double flowers on them - almost like a second daffodil blooming inside the "nose" of the first. They're rather topheavy.

I think it's for the best if these ones remain in their pots, attached to their bulbs, and beautifully bright yellow.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Not the return I'd hoped for

You thought the adventures in cake were pathetic?


It can be safely said that 2013 was a catastrophically bad year for me. Things happening to and around me that I could not influence, things I tried to do going horribly wrong despite my best efforts. I would go so far as to say that it was the worst year of my life (the previous contender being around 1998; the big difference being that now I'm in my 30s I have more and better coping strategies than my teenage self). Some of it was single events, some of it was longer-term dramas that just went from bad to worse in ways that would be dismissed by soap-opera writers as simply too implausible. Much of it is still ongoing. Most of it I prefer to keep off the internet.

Still, there were good things. There was sunshine. There was a trip to see friends and family. There were two trips to the Eden Project. There was blue hair.

And through it all, there was my blog, dusty and neglected. I kept thinking about posting but couldn't. Every time I sat down to write, it just seemed too personal or too pointless - or sometimes both.

Coping strategies, right? I should just sit down and write something. Get on with it. Worried about it being too personal? Okay, write something impersonal. Can't think of anything to write about? Well, do something you can write about, and then write about that.

Out came the daffodils, and they reminded me of a primary school "science experiment" where we put food dye in the vases of cut daffodils. The flowers pull up the coloured water, and the petals take on the colour of the dye. For the competent among you, here's the instructions.

So. This blog post was meant to be a nice, positive comeback, lots of pretty pictures, of my lovely yellow daffodils, followed by my lovely multicoloured daffodils.

Unfortunately, this week I've thrown out about a dozen daffodils that... well. If you peered closely, under a good light, you'd recognise a few streaks of colour, but before that, the word that would come to mind would be "dead". "Withered", perhaps, if you were feeling generous.

It's only a mercy that I don't have offspring to look disappointed at me and demand to know why it hasn't worked.