VHI Women's Mini Marathon and Raising Funds for Charity

After finishing the Darkness into Light run last weekend I was so hopped up on endorphins I felt sure I could do anything. So, I signed up for the Vhi Women's Mini Marathon in Dublin. It's 10km, which I had never done before. My husband wisely suggested I try and run 10km before I sign up. I did, and it didn't kill me. Now I'm all registered!

When I signed up it was only to do the run, but during the registration process I was asked to chose a charity to run for and one that is very close to my heart was listed. I'd always imagined myself giving a nice big lump sum donation to The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre when I was a full blown adult with a healthy income. Well, I am now a full blown adult with ... an income and I'm ready to raise that lump sum!

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre does much needed work in helping to support survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Their volenteers can be extra support in the immediate aftermath and their counsellors can help heal with healing the long term wounds. In recent years their limited funding, like that of many great organisations, has been cut.

I've never done call outs for charity before and I have to admit, given that it's only been a few days the world has already been beyond generous. I've gone well beyond my target but I'd like to see if I can raise just a little bit more them.

If you can please contribute to https://womens-mini-marathon.everydayhero.com/ie/zoe-1. If you are not in a position to donate please share this post with your family and friend and maybe take a moment to learn a bit more about the great work The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre does.

Not Really Social Commentary

Today I started writing an essay and there were so many things I wanted to say that I just lost track of any coherent message. So I tried something a little different. I wrote individual sentences to sum up the issues I was trying to address. 

  • It’s better if I just conform to societal expectation so things won’t be difficult for me.
  • If they are not like me then there must be something wrong with them.
  • If they didn’t do what I did then they did it wrong.
  • I cannot understand their perspective, they must be wrong.
  • I don’t like what they are saying, they must be wrong.

I frequently try to understand why people maintain views and biases that may lead to bullying and violence and this frequently leads me to wonder about conformity and fear of the other. I accept the above sentences are huge over-simplifications of complex thought processes but I present them as points of consideration more than anything else.

After I wrote the above sentences some others came to mind:
  • If I’m not like them then there must be something wrong with me.
  • If I didn’t do what they did then I did it wrong.
  • They cannot understand my perspective, I must be wrong.
  • They don’t like what I’m saying, I must be wrong. 
As someone of an anxious disposition these sentiments tend to find a home in my psyche but I thought they were an interesting juxtaposition to the fist set of sentences. 

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett

I am not one to write tributes for public figures but when I found tears welling up in my eyes as I read of Sir Terry Pratchett's death I realised I wanted to write a little something - not for you, dear reader, but for me.

It was my sister who first read Terry Pratchett, and she'd collected every book. As a young teen I simply could not get into Discworld, or any of his other books. Then, one summer I pulled Equal Rites off the book shelf. I was hooked. Suddenly I was reading like I'd never read before; a book a day and I could not stop. It seemed every book I read was better than the last. I loved the world, I loved the characters. I caught up with all the released Discworld books and began reading others.

I have re-read almost every one of those books, some of them multiple times. Now, if I find myself unable to read anything else I know I can turn to Guards! Guards! or Lords and Ladies and I will quickly find myself back in the reading groove.

I cannot express the sheer ease and joy I experience when I read Terry Pratchett's books.

I am so grateful to Sir Terry for sharing his world and his wit.

- Death, The Hogfather

Growing Out of Comma Dependancy

I just went over a short story I wrote about 15 years ago. The first paragraph is essentially two long sentences (41 words). I think I removed about 10 commas as I read it. This trend continued throughout the rest of the story.

Goals vs Resolutions - Applying Project Management to Personal Development

And here we are again - the planet Earth has spun on it's axis 365 times and completed a revolution around the sun.

Happy New Year!

After the indulgence of the holiday season (Christmas for me) it's generally accepted that we must now consider the next year and what our resolutions will be for the next 365 axis-spins.

Experimentation with Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I'm moving away from my usual topics and going to discuss a topic that is very dear to my heart. Cookies. Chocolate chip cookies to be precise.

Now, I know what I like in a chocolate chip cookie - I like M&S's chocolate chip cookies. Big, flat, crunchy outer layer with a chewy centre. A few years ago I found a recipe that was a very good re-imagining of the M&S cookie. Life was bliss.

Then 4 years ago I realised that discomfort and pain were not what one was supposed to feel after eating and after some experimentation I discovered that the pain and discomfort were caused by a lovely little protein called gluten. I adapted. My cookies didn't.

3D Modelling - It's actually quite fun!

Because I am a fool I never put up the assignments I did during my Masters. I am going to remedy this! Unfortunately I am currently having a mild disagreement with my hosting service so I'm just going to throw up my two 3D Modelling assignments here for now - and hopefully in a day or so I can get them up on my website and get that portfolio working for me.

First up, Pov-Ray
Possibly my favourite 3D modelling tool. It's all math - seriously. All elements (shapes, light, camera) are built using matrices for their size and position in the 3D space. And the good news is it is Open Source!
So below is my image. I wanted to be able to play around with different textures and light as well as construct complex items from basic shapes. The colouring and light is quite reflective of me and my personal preferences of purples and twilight shades.

Next up, 3D Studio Max
I can't quite articulate exactly how overwhelmed I was when first confronted with the UI of 3DS Max. We had, maybe, 3 months (possibly less) to learn to use it and create a 3D animated logo. As the below is a testament to, I learnt to use it. The basic principle was not dissimilar to Pov-Ray but I was relying less on pure numbers (sad-face). While I'm happy with the final animation there was a lot more I wanted to do with it. Believe me, if I could afford 3DS Max (and had a computer that could cope with the rendering) I would own it.

So - those are the 3D Modelling assignments. There is much more that came out of that Masters; I seem to forget how much I've done - my portfolio should be bursting! 

The Twisty Turny Path to Web Design/Development

Many months ago I realised I was a web developer. Since then I have become increasingly convinced this is exactly what I am and have been for a couple of years now. I've been reading up on the skills and experience required for a Junior Web Developer and I was quite surprised to find that I have them all, and to be honest I've had them for a while! I just ... sort of ... accumulated them without realising it.

I was lucky to be in a school with an IT teacher that actually knew something about IT. Sure I'd built websites with geocities back in the day but at the age of 12 I was introduced to HTML and began making those naff 90's websites ... you know, the ones with the solid fuchsia backgrounds and bright yellow headers. Sadly, that great IT teacher passed away and those who followed her seemed to regard computers as paper weights with MS paint on them to be used for design purposes. Sigh.

Making Websites: A Case for Wordpress

So - with the ebook thing, the conversion thing, the digital media thing and all that I find myself working with HMTL5 a fair bit - which essentially means, HTML, CSS and Javascript ... and maybe a little PHP. So, I do do a fair bit of work with websites: building them, fixing them, changing them. However, I've never really thought of myself as a website developer.

Why have I never really thought of myself as a website developer? Well, because I cheat. I use content management systems (CMS). Anyone who knows anything about building websites knows that that last statement was a pretty stupid one. These days most websites are built with content management systems, either self built ones (for the crazy super talented  people) or systems like Drupal, Joomla and Wordpress. So, I'm going to have to embrace it ... I am a web developer.

Print to Digital to Print

I thought it was quite interesting that I recently started doing a conversion from digital to print. It’s not something I really expected to be doing but it’s a nice change and is letting me dust the cobwebs off the old typesetting skills. The decision to do this is multi-faceted. It’s all part of a larger project to increase the offerings on a popular digital product for schools.

While it is true that many schools have new iPad initiatives and are updating all of their internal technology they still want the option to use good old fashioned pen and paper. That’s not to say all the schools want is their books back its more that there seems to be a taste for mixing and matching teaching styles.