Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hallowe’en silliness

With the ending of S104, I have been struggling to blog; not least because I’ve been reading as much silly crime as I can get my hands on. On my new Kindle. Which my lovely husband presented me with as a surprise on Friday!

I’ve struggled not only with finding a topic to blog about, but also with the words themselves, which bothered me. So I have devised a plan to see me through until S216 starts in earnest (sometime next month, as I have the PDFs already – nothing like getting a headstart!): I’m going to pick one of the Daily Mail’s “science” stories every few days, look at the original research paper/press release myself, and then write the article as it should have been written. Truthfully and objectively.

But before I begin that mammoth task, I feel I should share with you all a stupendous achievement – our Hallowe’en pirate ship pumpkin. Our lovely friends Dawn and Nick had a party to celebrate their engagement on Saturday night. Dawn is mildly obsessed with pirates, and loves anything to do with Hallowe’en. Plus she’s bonkers. So Joe and I carved her a pirate ship pumpkin.


Happy Hallowe'en!


Cloning and the art of photography

What could one want more than several versions of one’s beloved in the one place at the same time? Imagine the possibilities…

The most recent photography class was twofold (we couldn’t go to do starscapes because it was, typically, cloudy).

Firstly, we played with a cricket bat, a white umbrella and a strobe light with a long exposure, fast film speed and a large aperture. Again, the camera is a Nikon D70S; the strobe light was a cheapie from Maplin, and was a temperamental thing.

The procedure went thus: get cameras and models ready; turn on strobe light; turn out light; wait several minutes while strobe light got over its strop.

For reasons as yet unascertained, the strobe refused to play ball for a few moments after the lights were turned out. There was no light sensor that we could find; so we drew the conclusion that either there was a power surge that led it to fire spasmodically, like a drunken firefly, or that the pixies powering the thing were having some kind of a fit.

In any case, we made shapes – eventually – with swinging cricket bats and Singin’ in the Rain-style umbrella routines. And the sultry removal of a cardigan. Then we abandoned the props and went for Vitruvian Man.

Which, frankly, because of the poor behaviour of the strobe light ended up more like Dragonfly Man.

The second part of the lesson involved phototrickery – a short, sharp pointer in Photoshop. Photoshop is a marvellous thing, and learning to use it properly has been on my to-do list for quite some time (for professional as well as personal reasons).

So off we went, to set up some shots on the stairs and in the corridors. The tripod was set up, and the white-balance sorted out (a technical term, that). My beloved husband and supermodel posed in three positions on the stairs, and three photographs were duly taken.

There then followed some frolicking in the hallways, but we haven’t used them yet. The magic of Photoshop and its layers then took over! All in all, a good night’s work.



Painting with light

As it is impossible for me to do nothing, Joe and I have signed up to do a photography course at the local college. Intermediate digital photography; I’m not sure I’m intermediate, yet, but that it what we were advised to do.

We’ve had two classes so far, and it’s great fun! The first involved painting with light. The camera (Nikon D70S) was set upon its tripod, and set up with a shutter speed of 15-20 seconds at F-stop 8 and ISO 800 (with a little experimentation around these settings).

In a couple of groups, we set about going crazy with torches, and popping balloons full of talcum powder. Here are some of our results!

Explosions and loose ends

I have Explored Science.

I handed in my final, examinable assessment this week, and – bar the Grand Waiting For Results – my level one course with the Open University is complete. I have a very good feeling about the final assessment (the EMA); I enjoyed completing it, and didn’t find it as frightening or difficult as I expected. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not…

My feelings at the moment are mixed: I have adored this course with a passion normally reserved for cheese. It’s been an eye-opening, mind-expanding, boggling and awe-inspiring journey, that has often afflicted me with a penchant for too many superlatives. But the Universe is a very large and splendid place, so the odd superlative isn’t necessarily out of place.

However, I’m now both sad that the course has ended, and at a loose end. What now? I find myself wandering aimlessly around the house, tidying and generally finding Things To Do. I started by placing myself in the vicinity of a large glass of wine, but frankly there is only so much of that one can do before one becomes the local lush, so here is a run-down of my Saturday night.

Brace yourselves…

My esteemed and marvellous husband has invited his blokey colleagues to our house for a game of poker. Now, normally, I would take myself to my study and study furiously – but I have no studying to do! And worse – I have no broadband (this is having profound effects on my sense of civilisation; I’d be rubbish in an apocalypse that involves sending us back to the Stone Age) so this blog won’t even reach cyberspace until who knows when. Which is now. Tuesday.

So what have I done with my Saturday night? Well may you ask. It has involved explosions, funk and groove. People: I have Done My Paperwork! Paperwork that has built up since March this year. I’ve filed, organised, stapled, punched holes and recycled like the crazy party animal I am. But before you write this off as a really dull way to spend Saturday night, bear in mind that I have been drinking Waggle Dance throughout, and that my hole punch exploded.

That’s right; there are holes EVERYWHERE. My study is covered in holes. It looks like an example of chaos theory, which is appropriate to my course of study, but not to my innate and, some may say uptight, sense of order and tidiness. It’s making my brain hurt. And I can’t bring the vacuum cleaner in and sort it out until tomorrow, because Joe’s colleagues will think I’m a mentaller.


The Indian Summer will continue tomorrow, and I shall make a longbow and a knife. After clearing up the holes, of course.