Sunday, 14 September 2014

Plan B for bracelet - the learning from your young starts earlier than you think

Well, if this latest comms gig doesn't work out I think I have plan B in place. Yes, B for bracelets. Stylish, elasticated bracelets. 

Before the Mouse showed me how to make one, during a recent visit, I was a purchaser of Loom Bands and a 'spectator' of Loom Banding. Now I've crossed the line, I have walked into the mirror, and gone bandtastic. 

These things are compelling, compulsive, comfortable to wear and so therapeutic to make! And while, technically, it will be hard to elicit, er, an actual living out of this banding craze I feel I have already earned a lot out of it as an act of learning. 

Weaving little coloured elastic bands together in a way that would never have occurred to me, to obtain these cheerful, deeply satisfying little objects, is the first thing my nephew, in all of his 10 years on earth, has ever taught me how to do. I now look forward to at least four decades of practical and theoretical wisdom from this new source of knowledge. 

Readers of this blog know I fully expected to have to rely on him in my dotage to adjust my teleportation machine or help me change my replaceable organs. I just didn't expect the learning would start this early - and concern, tiny, analogue, 20th century elastic bands.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Keep the f@*#ing thing switched on! New ways to annoy my nephew in the future...

In the wake of a parental visit a few weeks ago very nearly marred by the reluctant and distressingly uneven use of an ancient and very EASY TO OPERATE mobile phone, I couldn't help but wonder: which totally banal yet 'indispensable as oxygen' technology will my inability to get my head around result in my nephew shouting (inside) in exasperation thirty years from now? I have already explored the replaceable organs scenarioThis week we explore...

2- Teleportation

Mouse- Auntie Paola, where are you?
Me (disembodied elbow hovering mid-air) – I’m coming I’m coming….
Mouse-Let me guess, the setting was too low again..
Me (rest of body materialises, elbow disappears)- This blasted thing is just too difficult to operate. The instructions are written in minuscule print and I…
Mouse- We’ve been through this, oh, 14.000 times? Green for send, Red for close down transmission. What is so complicated?
Me – What can I tell you, Mouse, I can never seem to get both elbows in…Very peculiar.
Mouse- Auntie, for the very last time...
Me –The thing is, Mouse, I’m not at all clear about the ‘thinghy’ here.
Mouse - …..I play poker with the VP of Apha Centauri. I'm in a spaceship-share with the MD of Kookle….. 
Me – But Mouse, the fact is…
Mouse-… DON'T CALL ME MOUSE!!!!!
Me – OK, ok, you are so grouchy! What was I saying?
Mouse- Your face is becoming all fuzzy!
Me – You noticed? Ohhh, it’s this wonderful new beauty treatment, it’s..
Mouse – No, Auntie, you are disappearing…What button have you pushed now? You can't switch it on and off like that you have to keep the blasted thing On all the way.
Me – Button? No I just…wait a second, I have no fingers at the mo…
-         Loud digi-vibration -
Mouse- Hang on, it’s Uncle. Uh? Mmm…Says your butt is now in the middle of interstellar motorway 17.....blocking the traffic.
Me- Don’t be ridiculous, I’ve completely lost the extra holiday weight.
Mouse- I thought I had been clear: littering the galaxy with unwanted bits of your body is not the way to lose weight. Plus there are laws against it.
Me – Oh little Mouse, you are adorable when you get angry! Reminds me of when I used to snatch your dummy and..
Mouse- It’s Uncle again. Said he sent his Ukulele ahead but he now can’t remember where. (Sottovoce: God give me strength). You cannot teleport stuff on its own, you idiot!!!!
Me – Ohh, you are such a cross little Mouse! You should start smoking again. They say it’s good for your again….

Next time:

Four-D Printing. 

Stay tuned. 

And keep the f*@#ing thing switched ON!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Druid Britain and the new Erasmus Stats

On a day that saw the Daily Express un-ironically ask its readers to text whether ALL migration to the UK should be stopped, new statistics about the uptake of the EU Erasmus programme, providing grants to young people to study in other EU countries, seem designed to add fuel to the sacred flame of Europhobia.

“Scrounging foreign students clog up OUR unis at YOUR expense”; “Brits shun continent but lazy foreign students are coming over HERE” – these are just two of an infinite variety of paint-by number headlines I can immediately predict.

To a paper which seems to consider the Druids the last legitimate inhabitants of these isles (before those unwashed Romans came over here, stealing our women and carpeting our beautiful countryside with unsightly aqueducts) and would no doubt swap the drawbridge for the Channel Tunnel any day, the Erasmus programme is just one more COSTLY and IRRITATING EU concoction.

According to the European Commission 14. 500 British students took the chance to study elsewhere in Europe thanks to Erasmus in 2012/13, a 7 per cent rise from the previous year.

Britain has the sixth highest number of successful applicants across the 28 member, no mean feat is one considers how poor the language skills of its young people are compared to some of their continental neighbours.

The stats also reveal Britain to be the fourth most attractive Erasmus destination for EU students. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that 7 out of the top 10 EU universities are British and English has in effect become the unofficial language of the EU, spoken by most youngsters across the continent.

All the same, this is fantastic news, as the grants disbursed centrally by the EU find their way back into the coffers of UK universities and happy foreign students go on to provide free marketing for them around the EU.

The new, improved version of the Erasmus programme, recently agreed for the next 7 years will extend grants to high school students, volunteers and apprentices.  The European Commission estimates 162.000 young Brits will take advantage of it over that period.

By contributing to Erasmus though its share of the EU budget Britain gets in return more money for its universities, grants for foreign travel for its students, as well as the priceless diplomatic and cultural gains to be had through such exchanges.

It is, after all, through travel, cultural links and the communication of engineering and scientific discoveries that we progressed from the crude monoliths of Stonehenge to the engineering marvel that is the Channel Tunnel.

Only ‘travel’ and ‘cultural links’ often came in the guise of war or at the  price of actual invasions, not via Treaties and debates in the European Parliament.

But these arguments would no doubt be lost on the elderly readers of the Daily Express, busy as I imagine them to be today instructing their Eastern European carers to text their newspaper that ALL immigration should be stopped.  

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Keep the f@*#king thing switched ON! Or: what technical incompetence will I annoy my nephew with?

In the wake of a parental visit last week-end very nearly marred by the reluctant and distressingly uneven use of an ancient and very EASY TO OPERATE mobile phone, I couldn't help but wonder: which totally banal yet 'indispensable as oxygen' technology will my inability to get my head around result in my nephew shouting (inside) in exasperation thirty years from now? Here are a few scenarios...

1 Replaceable organs.

Me - Where is it, I know I have it somewhere..
Mouse -Antie Paola...?
Me - Yes, in a second.
Mouse- Auntie Paola, what are you looking for now?
Me- Mutters to self - I had it right here! Then aloud: Nothing! Just a minute...
Mouse - It's your liver, isn't it?
Me- My what? I'm insulted, insulted I say, that you could think a thing like that, besides..
Mouse -You've been at the gin again, haven't you, and you've forgotten to change your liver..
Me -I might, I meant to..very short measure...well it's none of your business anyhow but if you must know..
Mouse - Show me the control panel Auntie.
Me - Get off me, you know nothing, nothing! I used to change your nappies young man..
Mouse -You never changed a single one of my nappies, Auntie, mum still goes on about that..
Me- I used to feed you and burp you, and I will never accept, never, this tone of voice when.. Ohhhh
Mouse - Here we go (control panel clicks open). Weeeeelll, what do you know..
Me- Anxiously clutching a G&T -What is it? What is it, Mouse? Is it serious??
Mouse - We have been through this Auntie. DO NOT CALL ME MOUSE. I manage a WHOLE MOON OFF EUROPA. I shuttle to Mars weekly. Drop the pet name for god's sake.
ME - All right, all right!!! Young people are so touchy these days!
MOUSE- I am 43. But back to your ORGANigram: it would appear someone has installed two gallbladders..
ME - Ohhh, have they?
MOUSE -Yeeeees, they have forgotten the liver altogether and just plonked a second gallbladder in. Silly or what?
ME - Well, yes, that was silly, silly and dangerous! Someone should have a word with..someone and sort this out, it's an outrage (loud clonk) Ohh!
MOUSE -There you are: Livers, 1 Gallbladders, 1, Brains...
ME -Wait, wait, I had one here, I had it a minute ago, I swear. (Ominous swish-shplatt noise) Oh boy. These things sure are slippery, aren't they?

Next week: Teleportation.

Stay tuned.

And keep the f*@#ing thing switched ON!