The Rise of the Super Geek

Is it just me or does Geek = Cool now? I don’t know if I’m getting old or if I’m just getting uncool (probably both! If indeed I ever was cool) but there seems to me to be an increase both in presence and in positive perception of Science (and technology) these days.

When I was at school, the nerdy kids were on the bottom rung of the social ladder, so to speak – not that I was at the top, as in most of my life I was average, middle of the road, both in intelligence and in social stature. It strikes me that when they were at school, the likes of Bill Gates, Stephen Fry and Wil Wheaton were also on that bottom rung (OK, probably not Wil Wheaton). But look at them now – Uber Cool!! (Well Wil and Stephen certainly, Bill’s more just Uber rich.)

Maybe it’s because I’m older and more confident in myself that I can admit to being in awe of people who know a lot more than I do, but more so, I can admit that what they know is really, really interesting.

I think (and this is my personal point of view) that the media (normally the root of most evil in today’s society, another personal opinion) have finally found ways of bringing science to the masses in ways that are interesting and entertaining.

Two of my favourite TV shows, currently, are Wonders of the Solar System and The Big Bang Theory. The great thing about Wonders of the Solar System is that it’s presenter, Prof. Brian Cox, is a) fairly young (i.e. not your typical wacky old Professor) b) an ex-drummer who hasn’t lost his rock band look and c) translates the science into real life issues, making it easier to understand.

The Big Bang Theory (which is hilarious, I’m addicted to it completely and Sheldon Cooper Phd is my favourite, favourite, favourite!) at first glance may appear to make fun of science (and non-science) stereotypes, but actually it’s an homage. The message is quintessentially “we’re all the same”. Some of us know things about some stuff and some of us know things about others.

I’ve even been keeping an eye on the events at CERN and watched with amazement and excitement, yesterday, as they re-created THE Big Bang in the Hadron Collider!

Maybe it’s the benefit of wisdom (yes, relative to my teenage self I am wise-er) that helps me see the importance of science and how and where it touches each of our lives every day, as individuals and as a global nation. When I was 14 I genuinely couldn’t understand why I would need to know how buoyancy, translational dynamics or circuits worked. After all I had bigger things to worry about like whether I should wear the ra-ra skirt or the MC Hammer pants to the Teeny Bopper disco on Friday night and whether Jon from 3C would be there.

Now I wish I’d paid more attention in school so that I could live in the world of Star Trek (who doesn’t want to be in that movie? Zach Quinto was astounding! I digress…) … live in the world of Star Trek travelling time and space (though with my body shape I’d probably have to give the tight catsuits a miss… more digression, sorry).

It’s probably too late for me now, but luckily I have a baby on the way. And, not that I want to re-live my life through my kid but, God! I hope Strawbug (my baby to be – see previous post for explanation) turns out to be a super geek!! A super cool one, of course 😉

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No potatoes today, thank you!

Why does maternity wear only come in one size? Mahoosive?!

I cannot be the first woman on earth to ask this question. And the expandable jeans that keep falling down? (no matter how big your bump gets – I’m reliably informed).

I went shopping on Saturday for some new clothes; maternity wear, because none of my existing clothes fit me now. Well, nothing that goes round my waist anyhow!

Against my good friend’s advice, I first tried on “normal” clothes, one size up from my regular size. She was immediately proven right when I discovered that whilst the fit was great (and very comfortable) around my waist, the clothes were hanging off me everywhere else. Making me look like the proverbial sack of potatoes!!

I wandered down to a well known department store (I had birthday vouchers to spend) and to my utter shock and surprise, across 4 floors of merchandise not one – NOT ONE – item of maternity wear could be found.

I was already close to throwing the towel in, so I took the easy (but expensive) option. I went to Mamas and Papas, the only specialist baby and mummy shop in my town. And even in a shop whose sole purpose in life is to clothe babies and mummies to be… the clothes still made me look like a sack of potatoes!!

90% of the tops available were “smock” style and big enough to “grow into”. Well, what if I don’t want to wear a tent and grow into it? What if I want to wear something that fits me now???!!!

So, I ended up with 2 long Lycra (snug but stretchy) vest tops, 2 pairs of expandable jeans (which I’m already regretting due to having to howk* them up every 3 minutes), a cardi and a great idea for a new business!!!

*”Howk” – to dig or dig out. “Tattie howkers” or potato diggers were employed to lift the harvest by hand. ~ Parliamo Scots?

Heaven or Hell? Reality TV

When Reality TV first appeared on our screens (over 10 years ago now), I don’t think anyone knew just how much it would change the landscape of  television programming forever. Now I could be wrong, but I’m fairly certain that (in the UK at least) Big Brother was the first TV programme of the reality genre to really break ground. Though I think most US readers would say that MTV’s The Real World came first. In fact, reality TV has been with us since TV began in the 40’s and 50’s though the format was slightly different; centred around documentaries or game shows.

From my own personal perspective, I remember watching one or two series of The Real World and loving it. Though I suspect we were at least a season behind in the UK. I also used to be an avid Big Brother fan, until about series 3 when it just started to make me cringe. And for me, Big Brother was the catalyst for the major changes on TV in the UK.

Nowadays you can watch just about anyone, doing just about anything, on TV in search of fame and/or fortune. And you don’t even have to get on TV to make yourself famous these days thanks to YouTube, Twitter and the Internet in general. Anyone can put themselves out there (heck, I’m doing it now!)

Reality TV though, can be addictive. And there are 2 types (I think); Celebrity Reality TV and Civilian Reality TV. Some people are able to cross from Civilian to the Holy Grail of Celebrity, but no-one wants to come back the other way. (NB: when I say “Celebrity” I’m talking “Z list”, you wouldn’t catch Tom Cruise living on rice and witchety grubs in the jungle, now would you?). Not that the programmes are any less entertaining because the “Celebrity” status of the contestants  are at the very least, tenuous. No! That’s what makes it even better.

We LOVE to watch people make idiots of themselves! (Well I do) Especially when they are portrayed as someone to aspire to by the media, or worse, by themselves and their PR machines! It makes me feel better. It makes me feel like I’m an OK person after all (though, laughing at others misfortunes probably directly disproves that!). And there’s an inherent nosy-ness in human nature, I think. We’re all voyeurs at the end of the day, aren’t we? Just look at how many traffic jams are caused by passing cars “swan necking” at a car wreck on the side of a road!

My current Reality TV LOVE is Pineapple Dance Studios. I just cannot get over how deluded the Band Guy is (poor bloke) and how fabulously camp Louis is. I get a good dose of self-righteousness and old-fashioned entertainment all in one, weekly, hour-long, segment! I just can’t help smiling all the way through! My Beloved, on the other hand, groans all the way through… well that’s not true. He actually tends to disappear after a maximum of 3 minutes to watch football in the other room or read a book (and this is how I know just how much he hates it – he NEVER reads a book!). He’s the same in the winter time, when my TV Mecca returns to the screens (Strictly Come Dancing).

TV Soaps replaced over the wall gossip to make us all feel that our lives were good, in comparison to other lesser souls. And now reality TV has replaced the role of the soaps. You may love them or you may hate them. But whilst many make me cringe beyond any minimum level of comfort and I generally put forward the statement that I’m not really into reality TV. I think my addiction to PDS probably proves that reality is TV Heaven to me!

I’ve got a new set of ‘L’ Plates!

In an earlier blog, I noted that my regular January period of contemplation was longer than usual. I can now tell you why… My Beloved and I are having a baby! A first for both of us. And we’re genuinley VERY excited, if also a little terrified!!

So I can now add Learner Mummy to my Bio. And my Beloved has already named the bump-to-be (for the purposes of this blog we’ll use the name Strawbug) For anyone who’s interested, I kept an offline diary of the first 8 weeks or so (post HPT) and I’ve inserted it below. Though I have no intentions at present to become a Mommy Blogger (there are already so many far better than I – modernmomdooce and mommy off the record to name just a few) I can’t promise there’ll be no baby blogs at all. We’ll just have to play it by ear… err, eye.

If there’s anyone out there with any level of experience in this (I count myself as sub-novice) who are willing to share their experiences (particulalry handy hints and tips) – I’m happy to hear them. Just use the comments box and leave a note.

Diary
4 Wks Pregnant – Found out. In shock! Mild panic even. Feel like my period is coming. Don’t feel pregnant at all. Boobs seem to have upped a cup size already, though!

5 Wks – OK, really worried about these cramps now, some of them are really strong and I’m totally knackered. Had to buy bigger bras.

6 Wks – Went to the Doctor, they didn’t even test me. Just gave me a list of what not to eat, congratulated me and sent me on my way.

7 Wks – Feel sick. OMG this is horrid. Bring back the cramps! (Thankfully
only lasts Thursday to Monday).

8 Wks – My birthday. Starts out a bit of a limp event. Ends up lovely. Partly because I dress up; make up, heels, feel like Me for a few hours and partly because I fell asleep for 3 hours again in the afternoon so kind of realising I wouldn’t have coped with a big deal birthday anyway!

9 Wks – Feeling mostly normal again. Still knackered. Towards the end of the week I get an angry head on for no reason. OMG just had a bubble in the loo at work, how embarrassing! Now I’m giddy as hell, think I’m going bi-polar!

10 Wks – Rollercoaster! Low and tired and done in. Hate work. Not overly happy about sitting on the sofa every night and every weekend either but can’t find the energy to do anything else. This should be the happiest time of my life. Why am I miserable? Wait! … It seems Michael Jacksons “Thriller” album is the perfect cure.
Broke the news to the family on Sunday. Everyone very excited!
Feel sick again and have permanent headache behind my right eye. Thankfully, my Beloved is working from home this morning and makes me a sweet cup of tea with some ginger biccies. All better.
Spoke too soon! Caught tummy bug. Hope Strawbug‘s OK!

11 Wks – Feel normal again. Too normal… Strawbug? You still there?
Got a constant headache behind my right eye. Making me feel queasy. Caved in after 3 days solid and took 2 paracetemol… not sure they’ll be strong enough.

12 Wks – Bought The Best Friends Guide to Pregnancy a couple of days ago. Been reading it avidly. Trouble is, it makes me laugh so much and laughing makes me cry! My Beloved thinks I’m a nutcase!
So nervous, can hardly sleep. Have my dating scan tomorrow and I’m convinced there’ll be nothing there. My friend told me about someone she knows having a Phantom Pregnancy… But then even if there is something there, what if there’s something wrong… Feel sick with nerves.

WOW! My life has just changed forever!!

This morning I seen my baby for the first time. I cried my eyes out, though my Beloved managed to stay strong. He was passing me tissues with one hand and squeezing my hand so hard with the other. The scan print out is amazing. So clear. I was expecting an experience closer to Rachel in Friends (where is it? I can’t see it) but this is just the most incredible picture in the world. Strawbug was moving around like crazy (not that I could feel it, but I could see it). His/Her arms were flailing around in front – either he/she is going to be a boxer, or dance like his/her Dad! And then, just before the session ended, he/she started sucking his/her thumb!!! I want to stay hooked up to this machine for the next 6 months… I don’t want to miss a minute of my beautiful baby’s life.

Our Little Rhubarb

A Child of the 80’s

This weekend my Beloved and I are heading south to visit his family, my in-laws. I was going to write a blog on the subject of in-laws but I hold my hands up, I bottled it. For fear of getting myself into hot water, I decided instead to share my passion for 80’s music inspired by hearing Human League on the radio just now.

I’m in my 30’s (I won’t tell you how far into my 30’s!). A child of the 80’s. When I grew up I wanted to be either Madonna (who didn’t have a pair of lace gloves?) or Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink (quirky, edgy, creative and an all round good egg – or maybe it’s now that I wish I had been more like her growing up).

Strangely, I wasn’t overly interested in music when I was younger.  Particularly around this era, I was pre and early teens and didn’t really start listening to music until I was 17 and life “got hard” (i.e. i didn’t get to do what i wanted – aka go to the pub, no-one understood me and boys didn’t know i was alive!!!) 

But hearing 80’s music now conjures feelings and images of youth, of innocence maybe. Memories of a time when I was convinced that my life was going to be one big brat pack movie (come to think of it, that thought didn’t entirely leave me until relatively recently…)

Is that why nostalgia is so prevalent nowadays? Or is it just me (and most of my friends as well as Soleil Moonfrye, I follow her on Twitter, she’s a major 80’s music fan!). If I remember I think it arrived with the cards I received on my Big 3-Oh Birthday.  Do we all yearn for a life less complicated?

But I suggest to you, if life were less complicated, wouldn’t it be boring? Where’s the reward without the challenge? Do we really want to be children again? Apart from the fact that being a child today is far different from being a child in the 80’s (which is an entire blog subject on it’s own, complete with rose tinted glasses paragraph!), just think of all the things you’d be missing out on… choosing your own bedtime, watching Shaun of the Dead, driving country roads (faster than you’re supposed to), drinking apple martini’s (not at the same time as driving the country roads, obviously!)

I don’t think we’re yearning to regress to 12 years old. I think we’re just staying in touch with our inner child. Keeping connected to our true selves. Grabbing opportunities to experience joy when they present themselves. So, stick on your old tape mixes, turn it up to 11 and bop around that living room and live it up – 80’s style!!!

If You Love Someone, Set Them Free

So, this weekend, my Beloved and I took a (fairly) major decision. Partly for selfish reasons and partly for selfless reasons.

We’ve always kept our little cat in at nightime. Mostly, because I can’t sleep wondering if the bigger cats in the neighbourghood (of which there are many) have beat him to a pulp or if (as has happened before and nearly destroyed me) he’s gotten stuck somewhere he can’t get out of, or some other horrific event has been visited upon him.

I have always reasoned that it’s also better for the local wildlife if he’s not out hunting their numbers to extinction – though how much wildlife a cat could actually find in a neighbourhood that’s not inner city enough to be urban but not far enough out to be suburban, I don’t know. Helped to keep my concience clear(ish) though.

My Beloved (a cat owner since he was born) has always maintained that cats are nocturnal creatures and probably shouldn’t be cooped up all night. Though, as he does love me very very much, he went along with it and understood. The cat didn’t really seem to mind either. After all, he’d never known anything different. Until…

For the last 3 weeks our little fur-baby has been waking us around the 5am mark, then the 4:30am mark, then around 4am until the end of last week when he started waking us up at 3:30am to get out and do his ablutions (he doesn’t like to “Go” in the litter tray anymore – he’s discovered his dignity).

So on Friday night, we decided (at my suggestion – this surprised me more than my Beloved I think) that we should maybe not lock the cat flap at night and then he could get out if he needed to “Go” without waking us up at silly o’clock in the morning. We decided best to trial this new venture that very weekend as we would be at home all weekend and he would then feel more comfortable that we hadn’t abandoned him (I know, I’m totally crazy).

So here we are, 5 nights later. The first night I don’t think he realised it was open so stayed in until his normal 4am before giving it a try. The next couple of nights he was out, and in, and out and in and out all flaming night! But last night, he went out after dinner to (I hope) play with his friends and then came in about 11:30pm and slept all night (well till about 6am) in his old favourite spot, right underneath my half of the bed 🙂 I couldn’t believe my luck. My cat does love me! (NB: his new favourite spot is behind a box bed in an entirely different room, as far away from me as possible!).

So, there you go. We managed to achieve a win/win situation. (Status Quo dependant). If you love someone, you have to set them free. And then there’s a very good chance they will want to come back to you!

But yes, I’ll admit, I’m still finding it hard to sleep but I’m learning. And yes, I do have a mild pang of guilt about the longevity of the local widlife – especially as this morning my Beloved found a “little present” waiting for him in the guest room!

Home Sweet Home

Earlier I tweeted this: “I LOVE my home! Just love it! Love coming home to it. Love being in it. Just love it. Love it. Love it.” A slightly random statement to make and I was (only a little) surprised when the thought entered my head. But it did. Randomly. And the feeling that accompanied the thought was so strong, I just felt I had to share it.

Let me be clear. I’m not talking about my house; the bricks and mortar, about the colour of the paint (well, maybe the colour of the paint in the box room, for which I spent years trying to find a match to the prefect shade that was in my mind’s eye!). I’m not talking about the things in it, though I suppose those things help make it what it is. I’m not even sure if it’s the people who live there (namely myself, my Beloved and my litttle cat) because I feel it even more when it’s empty and quiet.

My home is not my castle, it’s my Sanctuary. As soon as I walk in and close the door behind me I feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I take a deep breath and start to relax, warm up, cool down, whatever it is I’m looking for; I find it here.

I’m also acutely aware that I’m extremely lucky to have a roof over my head, let alone a safe place of Sanctuary. And I genuinely thank God/Mother Nature/The Stars/Whoever is listening on a regular basis for the priviledge.

I hope that you have a Sanctuary, whether it’s your home or somewhere else. And for those who aren’t lucky enough to feel safe in their homes, or don’t have a roof over their heads, I will keep you in my thoughts and do what I can to make the world a safer place.