Monday, 21 January 2013

The Art of Letter Writing

When was the last time you put pen to paper and wrote a letter to a friend simply for the pleasure of doing so?

I came across a talk by a lovely lady called Hannah Brencher on the fabulous TED talks where she tells the story of letter writing to strangers and expresses the pleasure she and they got from the experience. Personally, I think this is a fab idea. It's all too easy to write an email and send it but there is something special about holding a letter in your hand and reading it whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

All too often, the letter box goes and all that appears are bills, junk mail and more junk mail. How nice to go to the door and find someone has been thinking about you enough to grab some paper and a pen and write something just for you. Better still if they have popped a couple of photos in with it which you can frame straight away without fighting with your printer (that last bit may just be me but the flipping thing drinks ink and is always empty when I want to use it! Ha!)

So take some time out from technology, buy some beautiful paper and start creating for someone you care about, they will love it :)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Science: A Dying Art?

I took a biology O'level because I had to choose a science when I took my options at school many moons ago. I decided it was the least of the three evils of physics, chemistry and biology and it would 'do'. I also had a fear of maths and broke out in a sweat at the mere sight of an equation.

Then I started climbing big hills in Britain and that all changed. I had a need to find out how those hills got there, what was underneath them and what was above them. I breathed in the air and the explorer inside me came out and started to ask questions. Suddenly science didn't seem so bad as I was motivated by a need to 'know'.

Years later,  I have a heavy interest in geology and astroeverything and, if I had my time again, I would probably be found dangling at the edge of a volcano or maybe even trying to be one of the lucky few who are involved in space exploration.

A lot of young people these days seem to think science is for 'nerds' and not enough of them are getting interested in scientific careers. We really need this to change. 

The BBC have helped to make space related science accessible to the general public with programmes such as The Sky At Night and Stargazing. The latter being helped by presenters like Professor Brian Cox who appeals to many for his knowledge and also his...presence (sorry, Professor!)

NASA always has something going on to try and peek interest (at the moment they need help with the solar panel longerons on the International Space Station..complicated stuff but they have lots of other things going on too!) and this has been helped by a few Near Earth Objects being...well, near. At the end of 2012 there was, of course, concerns by some the world was going to end and an assumption it would be from an impact of some sort. It didn't happen, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this, but this and other recent events has brought space related sciences firmly back in the public's eye and this can only be a good thing and something to be built on and encouraged.

I heard the education authority was thinking of reducing funding for science related courses in schools in the UK, due to the costs involved. I am hoping this is a rumour.

We NEED our teenagers to take an active interest in the sciences, we need the progression. There is so much more to learn and discover, on our own beautiful planet, (in the oceans in particular) and out there in space in our solar system and beyond. We must encourage our children to want to discover and to ask questions. They are our tomorrow.


On a bit of a sad note, I noted today the Royal Institution is putting it's building in Mayfair up for sale.

You can add your voice to those trying to save it by following this link

It's Just A Heap Of Metal...A Heap Of Junk Metal Now

It could only happen to my dear OH. I say this with a fondness and deep appreciation for his little escapades, which I still find endearing, albeit through gritted teeth.

My OH is a man of many talents, he works many hours to provide for our huge family and is still the most attractive man on the planet in my eyes. That said...

In July 2012, it was decided we needed a second car as my OH changed jobs and needed one for work. He duly went out and panic bought a bit of an old banger called Rusty. It reminded me of a sketch I once saw where a similar car reached the traffic lights only to fall apart, its four wheels rolling away from the scene to fetch a strong coffee each and grab a bit of a lay down. It was a rust bucket of the highest oxide but the petrol cap, I was assured, was sound. He seemed to think this of great significance and so I bowed to his greater knowledge and let it go.

A mere 12 weeks later and it gave up the ghost. The door did indeed fall off at the traffic lights, (I kid you not) and he limped home like Fred Flintstone with a look on his face which begged understanding. The car was taken away, to be as crushed as his ego.

And so I did something rather silly. I let him use my car who I had affectionately named Horace after my grandad (dependable, loyal and trustworthy)  until we could afford another to replace Rusty. Several scrapes, chips, dents later and Horace had finally had enough. With a war cry Mel Gibson would have been proud of, Horace danced on some ice and threw himself at another car. I wept over his bonnet and with a final tearful farewell sent him to the same scrapyard as Rusty. That was five days ago.

Four days ago we bought a new car. This time it was a Ka. The petrol cap was rusty, which I took as a good sign, the ying and yang of car purchasing or the faint hope of better things perhaps? My dear OH was enthusiasm itself and assured me it was the right car. The man from the garage backed this up and I ignored the garage man's quips about women not knowing anything about cars because this woman doesn't. And so he bought it, insured it, told work he was coming in that evening and set off for work at the appropriate time. He turned two corners, found a patch of ice and...yes, quite...totally wrote off the car he slid into and did untold damage to the one he was driving.

Three days ago we bought a new car. This time it was a Ford Fiesta. He went to the garage to look at it and decided it was the one for him. Excellent condition, economical and a pleasant colour (!!) I can't tell you about the petrol cap, I didn't ask. He agreed to go back the next day to pick it up and told work he would be in. He insured it, took it to work and managed to bring it home in one piece.

Tonight there are several inches of snow predicted...I'll get back to you.