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Diary of an opsimath
Today has not been productive. I am coughing and feverish with achy hip joints. In fact both of us were coughing in the night and G came home from the college early saying that none of his maths class had turned up because they'd all been struck down with this virus. Most of the day I have sat listening to the radio and crocheting, but I have very quietly and slowly done quite a few little household tasks. This is all very frustrating because I have a lot of things to do and currently don't have the energy to do any of them. Thankfully I booked the hotel and the rail tickets to get to Dad's funeral yesterday, so I don't need to worry about that.

Current Mood: sick poorly

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First week back at work after a 2 week break is always tiring, but so far things have gone OK. I've also decided to try taking allergy medication (just some over the counter Benadryl) and taking just one tablet has cleared my sinus snuffles considerably. This therefore seem to indicate that I have indeed developed hay fever in my old age and all the tree sex currently happening beyond the bottom of our back garden is doing me no good at all.

Current Mood: calm calm

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Google doodle today was of Dr B R Ambedkar. The name rang faint bells and I immediately thought India/Pakistan but I admit I had to click through to find out exactly who he was.

This article, showing the countries that the doodle appeared in, also aroused my curiosity.

BR Ambedkar doodle.jpg

India, obviously, because that is where he lived and was active politically. The UK and, by extension, Ireland also make sense because of the former colonial connection. I don't know why the other countries were chosen. Who decides these things?

There is also one glaring omission. Google is not bringing Dr Ambedkar to the attention of Americans. Perhaps they don't feel that remembering an activist who campaigned against caste discrimination in a country on the other side of the world is relevant to them? Despite the fact that he did in fact study in the US. But it's ignorance of people like Dr Ambedkar and the injustices he campaigned against that perpetuate the myth amongst certain SJWs[*] that only white people practise discrimination and the only people who suffer from discrimination are non-white. OK, when we remember Dr Ambedkar and his work, the people suffering were non-white, but they were being oppressed by fellow Indians, not by white colonialists.

On both my visits to America, I was struck by how there was absolutely no news about anywhere else in the world (unless it was an area where America was currently engaged militarily), whereas here in Europe, we seem to be swamped by news about America. It's no wonder that so many Americans are so ignorant of the world beyond their borders. This would be fine -- if sad! -- but when it comes to the internet and SF fandom, Americans do interact with citizens from everywhere and it is becoming increasingly tiresome that they persist in believing that everywhere is just like the USA and that when people try to tell them otherwise, for example should someone point out that in the UK the most discriminated against people are probably Roma travellers (who are white) and that the ones that cause people like UKIP to get their knickers in a twist are from Eastern Europe (and white), they seem to genuinely believe that this is not possible and that only non-whites can be suffering. Trying to tell them that, it's All Much More Complicated gets nowhere because they are so convinced they are right and black/white thinking (both literal and metaphorical) is so ingrained in their psyche.

[*] Social Justice Warriors, the name given to people who campaign single-mindedly and stridently about oppression, mostly that of non-whites by whites but also other forms of oppression sometimes get a look in. Despite it being a good and noble thing to try to stop oppression and make the world a better place, ignorance and even wilful blindness means that they often make enemies of people who would be totally on their side if they didn't try to make a false dichotomy of white people evil/POC good.

Current Mood: thankful thankful

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I apologise for the lengthy silence. This has been caused by being away from home for about 10 days, first in Swansea because G was attending a conference and I was seeing the offspring and grand-offspring and then I immediately travelled to London for Eastercon. Though both trips were very enjoyable, recovering from all the travel and novelty and getting back into a normal routine took some time and then yesterday we were woken at 4 am by the hospital phoning to say that my Dad had died in the night.

I am still processing all this. Dad's health had declined to such an extent during the past few couple of weeks that death was expected. We just thought he would have a few more weeks, but really it had reached the point where him slipping away was a blessing because though he had lost the use of his legs and had been in a wheelchair for a while, he had not been in any pain, until now.

I've disabled comments because really, when someone is almost 94 and they've had a good life, death is not exactly a tragedy. I would have liked to have seen him one more time, but it wasn't to be. I'm not absolutely certain that he would have known who I was. In a way I lost my father a couple of years ago, though as recently as last year, occasional flashes of the old personality would shine through.

I don't have the words to express the tumult of emotions I'm feeling right now. He was a great dad and a super granddad to my to kids. He was well-liked by most people who knew him. I keep being ambushed by memories and then I find I'm in tears.
Aaargh! Facebook is such a huge time sink. I made the mistake of checking it this morning and there were lots of posts about the Eastercon and the Hugo sad puppies affair, with lots of links to follow. Suddenly a huge part of the day was gone. Ah, well, I'll write it off as "resting and recovering", which I did need to do.

However, I have done a load of washing, got it dried in the gorgeous spring sunshine and, since tearing myself away from the Internet, even ironed some of it. I also sorted out a shelf in our stationery cupboard and now the door closes properly without all the envelopes sliding out. I just have to walk into town and buy more food and wine and that will do for today. I must get properly up to speed tomorrow though or I won't catch up with the stuff I need to catch up with before I'm back in college next Monday.
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13/52 for the group 2015 Weekly Alphabet Challenge

This week's topic was: M is for Meeting

Not a very inspired shot this week, I'm afraid, but this is the official meeting point should there be a fire drill in the college where I teach.

Assembly point in case of fire

This is a little prettier, though you can see we're still suffering from cold, gloomy weather. This bridge was built when the building that is now the local FE college was a girls grammar school. There used to be an open-air swimming pool and some tennis courts across the main road and the bridge enabled the girls to cross the road safely.

As the bridge has been condemned, it's now considered safer to risk the traffic! Anyway, the pool and tennis courts have gone and now it's just car parking. (If any Ingress players are reading, this is another local portal, currently in my possession.)

Old footbridge
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Where, oh where, has spring gone?

We keep being tantalised by a single warm sunny day, then it's back to the biting wind and icy rain.

I have a weird cold which started last week with the normal scratchy throat and tight chest, then almost immediately got better. I felt almost back to normal on Monday. But then yesterday came a relapse and I was barely warm enough watching TV swathed in a crochet poncho and thick blanket in a heated room. I put an extra blanket on the bed too. Basically I don't think this cold wind is helping it at all.

The weather also wasn't very helpful regarding getting everything ready for going away at the weekend, but everything is now washed and dried, though not yet ironed.

First we'll have a couple of days in Swansea, then we return on Wednesday and I set off again to go to Eastercon in London. This sounded like a demanding but doable plane when I made it some weeks ago. Now dragged down with a cold, I am not so sure, but I'll muddle through somehow.

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

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It was so lovely this Sunday afternoon that I went for a little walk around town, passing by the Gorsedd circle where the daffodils are now blooming. This is one of our local Ingress portals and it's currently in my hands.

Gorsedd stones and spring daffodils

There are about 14 portals within walking distance and there's no way I'm trying to keep all of them fully charged, but I have plans to see if I can make some links and set up a little Resistance field.

I still don't know whether Ingress is something I'll stick with, but without it I doubt I'd have walked 2 miles today and instead would just have walked straight to the Co-op, done my shopping and walked home. Ingress did therefore make me walk an extra mile so I could hack more portals en route.
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I was mostly interested in watching the progress of the eclipse and hadn't set things up to enable me to photograph it, but I did quickly try to capture the sun at the eclipse maximum. Here it is...

Solar eclipse

I also tried to photograph the weird gloomy quality to the light. Many of the photos of the eclipse make it seem as though the sky goes black. Here in North Wales the eclipse was only partial (87% or thereabouts) so though the light dimmed, it only went twilightish, not pitch dark. But still strange for that time of day on a cloudless morning.

Eclipse light

Current Mood: calm calm

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I watched the solar eclipse in Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1999 with my students. Cloud made viewing difficult, but we did manage to see the eclipse using the pinhole projection method. The lasting memory is how grey and weird the light went and how cold it seemed for the rest of the day, as though the sunlight we'd been deprived of for that hour or so had left a warmth deficit.

As I wouldn't be able to take time out of the type of teaching I'm doing now, I was really pleased that today's eclipse fell on a day when I didn't have to work. Here is how it happened in my corner of North Wales.

8:30 am Oooo! The eclipse has started here in the UK. I made a pinhole viewer out of a shoebox and with that I can see that the moon has taken a tiny bite out of the sun.

9:00 am The sun is almost half hidden and the quality of the light has changed. It's noticeable that it's not as bright as it should be for this time of day with an utterly cloudless sky.

9:10 am Just a crescent of sun left now. As I popped out of the front door to take a look at how things were progressing, my neighbour came out carrying a colander and a sheet of paper. I didn't know that was a way of viewing an eclipse, but she said it worked. I will stick with my shoebox.

9:29 am There is just a thin crescent, like a fingernail paring left of the sun. The view of the eclipse from the BBC webcam is deceptive though. The sky is not actually black, it's twilight blue and I've realised that the feeling of strangeness is due to the light being twilightish in terms of quality while the height and angle of the sun tells the brain that it should be bright morning.

9:55 am The light outside is brightening and I just popped out with the pinhole viewer to find that the sun is now a much fatter crescent. Still partially obscured though.

9:58 am Just had a quick look on Facebook and the Habit Tavern and all my online friends are moaning about the non-event due to cloud cover over London, the SE of England and Germany. *Tries not to be smug* For once Welsh weather defied the stereotype to give us perfect viewing conditions. :)

10:02 am Sun is an even fatter crescent now.

10:06 am The light is almost back to normal now. It's like having a second morning. I think the birds thought that too because there was more random birdsong than is normal for the time of day.

10:22 am Sun almost back to normal. Just a small bite missing.

10:36 am As far as I can see, the moon has moved on and the sun is totally visible again, though the cloud that has now appeared makes it difficult to see. I'm so glad the cloud held off until now. For once the weather gods timed things perfectly!

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful

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