Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Uni update

I know you have all been wondering how I'm getting on at Uni so I thought I had better update you.

The course itself is going well so's not easy but it's going well. At the moment the focus on the 'Management for Working in Communities' module is all about using various methods to examine your behaviour and, if I'm honest, I'm finding that a bit intense. Some things have come as no surprise, some have taken me aback slightly and answering some of the why questions has been a rather painful process (still, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger eh!!). Once the 'Self Audit' assessment is out the way, it's due on the 6th of November, the focus of the module will shift and it will be about changing the negative behaviours and building on the positive ones and I think that process is going to be quite empowering so I'm looking forward to it!!

The Community Development module is proving absolutely fascinating!! We're learning about the history of Community Development (not just in this country but across the world), looking at the different ways of defining a 'community' and at conflict within communities. We have people from all walks of life on the course.....I am learning a hell of a lot about the flaws (gaping chasms) in our countries current policies, racism in all it's shapes and forms and about what brings people together and blows them apart!! The first assignment for this class is due on the 10th of December and is to take the form of a community profile (I'll come back to what my options are on this later) which I think will be a very useful tool for identifying needs and finding solutions to some current issues within the community being focused on.

I've also started work (unpaid sadly, but hopefully that will change in the future) at an organisation called THINk. (THINk is Tower Hamlets version of LINk (Local Involvement Networks)....the LINk's took over from where the Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forums left off and there is one in every Local Authority area in England). The people are lovely and I think it's going to work out well!! We have agreed a scope of work and, happily, the areas that they would like me to focus on fit perfectly with what I'm being asked to do for Uni. So I will be undertaking a number of community profiles.....probably one involving young people, another one looking at a specific group within the Bangladeshi community and one focusing on patients that are currently housebound. I will also be conducting discovery interviews, coming up with a way of capturing 'patient experience' for those with long term illnesses and producing a report based on a piece of work I did in Salford which we are going to try and adapt to fit with what's going on in Tower Hamlets.

So, as I said, the course is going well....what's not going quite so well is how I'm feeling. I'm finding the travelling and being away from home aspect really tough!! I knew I was going to miss Chris but didn't expect to feel like I'm living two lives and both of them out of a suitcase. It's only my fourth week and already I am shattered......I leave home at about 10.30am on the day I leave for London and I don't get to Tom's till about 10.30pm. (It's a long day and that's the day I do the tough personality stuff!!). I work the next day (which will involve evening meetings and did last week) and the following day....then when works finished I head over to Uni for another three hour lecture, get the tube to Paddington and then get the train home. (Chris picks me up from the station but I don't actually walk in the door till about 11.30pm). I know that this will probably get easier as I get used to it and it becomes routine but at the moment I feel like I'm just get settled at home when I'm off to London again and vice versa.

I shouldn't complain, a good friend of mine is having to cope with a lot worse, but I just know that I'm going to look like a mad old hag by the end of this semester (and if any of you say anything about already looking like a mad old hag I will be forced to bash you!!) so god alone knows how bad it's going to be by the end of the year!! Still, I guess it will help with the scaring of young children so it's not all bad!! *grins*

Monday, 26 October 2009

Chris's Photo Book

Here are some photo's of the book I put together for Chris using My Publisher.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Quick update on Chris's Birthday

We had a lovely weekend!!

On Saturday night I took him to a local restaurant called 'The Vine Tree' which had been recommended by a friend!! We were not disappointed....the food was fantastic!!

I bought him a limited edition Dr Who Master's Fob Watch

a limited edition copy of 'The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun' by J.R.R. Tolkien. It's leather bound and beautiful to look at!!

and his last present arrived today (I'm safe to post about it now....he's on his way home from the office). I used MyPublisher and created a book of his best photo's (I was inspired by the Fall Colours idea). I used songs with colours in their titles that were released in 1969.....I opened the package earlier and the book looks great!! (I've wrapped it up so can't post any photo's yet but I will once he's opened it!!)

On Sunday, we had a lovely relaxing day....went to the pub in the afternoon and then I cooked a three course Moroccan meal and we spent the evening eating and drinking.

We're looking forward to seeing everyone in Scotland in a few weeks where we will be having another celebration!!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Happy 40th Birthday Honey

Just because your 40,
don't despair, oh no
overnight you won't discover
you've lost your get up and go.

Nor will you become all wrinkled
nor ache from head to toe
so even though your ripening
don't regard it as a blow,
you won't suddenly look decrepit

...Cos that happened long ago!!!

Happy 40th Birthday Honey

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate Change - Green Gadgets

Today over 6000 bloggers from 135 different countries will blog about Climate Change as part of blog action day. I am one of them.

'Oi, where do you think your going? I promise I'm not going to preach at you! Come back!'

I decided that I would do a post about some of the 'Green Gadgets' that are available, or are about to become available, on the market. (Oooh I do love gadgets don't you....and some of these are really clever!!)

Did you know that researchers at Leeds University have come up with a washing machine design that only uses one cup of water to wash a complete load of washing? The machine heats the water and converts it into vapour, the beads in the vapour remove the stains and, once the cycle is finished, they fall through a mesh in the machines drum and the same water can be used over a hundred times!! (How cool is that!!). It uses much less water and much less electricity and is going to be available to buy next year.

You could get yourself a Powerbrella!! ('A what?' I hear you say 'What on earth is a Powerbrella?'). Powerbrella's are large umbrella's made of flexible solar put them up to shade you from the sun when your sitting out having your barbecue, reading your book in the garden or are down by the beach and the suns energy is used to power what ever you have with phone, laptop, i-pod...anything that needs power basically!! From what I understand, these are available on the market now and the company that produces the solar film are looking into using it to make solar powered clothing and bags. (I would love a bag that charged my mobile!!)

How about a Battery Wizard? This nifty little gadget not only re-charges your rechargable batteries but it can bring your dead non-rechargable batteries back to life!! (I want you to know that I'm resisting making references to Dr Frankenstein) ('It's alive!!' *snigger*) (sorry!!). Apparently it can recharge standard alkaline, NiCad and NiMH disposable batteries up to 10 times so you get 10 times more use out of them before having to throw them away!!

On your bike!! No, I'm not telling you to bugger off!! I'm suggesting that you could treat yourself to a BioLogic FreeCharge (Bargain at only £50). It's a gadget that attaches to your bike’s dynamo, granting you the opportunity to charge your mobile, I-pod etc just by pedaling your bike. It works by using the energy produced by your pedaling to charge an internal battery and then it transfers the current to your gizmo. (By first charging the internal battery it means whatever you are charging will not be affected by the velocity of your pedaling). Some people just come up with brilliant idea's don't they!!

Motorolla have launched, what they are calling, the world first carbon neutral mobile phone. It is made of recycled water bottles and, through an alliance with, they have offset the carbon dioxide required to manufacture, distribute and operate the phone through investments in renewable energy sources and reforestation. In addition, the phone comes in packaging made from recycled paper and it contains a stamped envelope for you to send your old mobile back to Motorola for recycling.

Last but not can now buy laptops that are encased using Bamboo instead of plastic!! Bamboo is the most sustainable raw material there is because it grows so fast! Not only are the results achingly beautiful (seriously, I so want one!!) but it has been tested to ensure it can withstand continuous use and has the added advantage of not being instantly recognisable as a laptop. Dell, Assus, and Fujitsu are among the companies now producing them.

Every little helps!!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Ig Nobel Prizes 2009

For those of you that don't know, the aim of the Ig Nobel awards is to honour achievements that "first make people laugh and then make them think". Each year the awards are presented to the winners by genuine Nobel laureate and this years ceremony was organised by the magazine 'Annals of Improbable Research'.

Here are some of this years winners (These are great!!)

The Ig Nobel Public Health Prize was awarded to Dr Elena Bodnar who designed and produced a bra that, in an emergency, can be converted into two gas masks. She demonstrated her invention and gave one to each of the Nobel laureates as a gift.

The Ig Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a Swiss research team who did research into whether it is better to be hit over the head with a full or empty bottle of beer. (I kid you not!!)

The Ig Nobel Veterinary Medicine Prize was awarded to Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University for showing that cows with names give more milk than cows that are nameless.

The Ig Nobel Physics Prize was awarded to a team from Harvard University for analytically determining why pregnant women do not tip over.

The Ig Nobel Literature Prize was awarded to Irelands Police Service for writing and presenting more than 50 traffic tickets to the most frequent driving offender in the country, Prawo Jazdy, who's name in Polish means 'Driving Licence'

and last but not least

The Ig Nobel Mathematics Prize went to the governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank for printing bank notes with such a wide range of denominations.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

I think I've made the right choice

I am passionate about the third sector and the main reason I wanted to do this course was because I felt that I needed to learn more about the theory behind the current practices and to be able to look at the desired outcome and have the knowledge to choose the right path to get there (Does that make sense?).

I have good experience in the sector. Whilst in Manchester I worked with 5 Patient and Public Involvement Forums (They looked at the healthcare system from the patients perspective and then worked with the professionals to improve the services), the Community Collective in Salford (This comprised of 16 social enterprise, charity and community groups getting together to undertake meaningful public consultations on behalf of the public sector) as well as winning, designing and delivering on, a 12 week public consultation for the countries 2nd largest cancer hospital. Whilst in Thailand I set up and ran the BWG Welfare Team (Team of five people who researched funding requests, made recommendations to the BWG Committee, distributed the funding and then did the necessary checks), created a 'People Bank' of volunteers to work in charities across Bangkok, sat on the Board for Operation Smile (Charity responsible for providing Cleft lip and Cleft Palate operations to those in remote areas that couldn't afford them) and was involved in setting up tour's for the blind at Bangkok's National Museum. I have always managed to deliver on what has been asked of me but I've always felt that the journey to get there would have been smoother if I had more resources (and by that I mean knowledge of tried and tested methods) at my finger tips.

I'm taking two modules this semester (Management for Working in Communities and Community Development) and two next semester (Organisational Development for Working in Communities and Social Structures and Policies). I had my first lecture/Seminar the other day and already I have learned something about the way I manage projects and approach the management of staff.....which is just as well really since I have to produce an essay in three weeks outlining my strengths and weaknesses in that area!! I had to produce a life line detailing significant points in my life and my emotional reactions to them and then complete a questionnaire of 100 statements grading my response to them (did I completely agree, sometimes feel like that, generally feel like that or completely disagree)...the results were interesting!! (I'm sure I'm going to have a few 'Oh, that's how I do it' moments and also a few 'Oh, I wish I'd known about that method' moments too!!)

I really do think I have made the right choice regarding the course and I already know that I'm going to get a hell of a lot out of it!! (Gosh, things change fast don't they!! How different is this post compared to the last time I blogged about Uni!!). I really had forgotten just how much I love learning!! (Yes, I am aware of how sad that is!!)

On another note, I will try and keep blogging regularly and I will make a point of trying to get round all your blogs too but I might not comment as regularly as I have been. Please don't all abandon me!!

Monday, 5 October 2009

See the new Book Trailer for Virtually Dead by Peter May

and if you think that looks should read the book :-D

(I already have, advantage of being writers daughter, and I can promise you that it's a page turner!!)