Swirling Maelstroms of Brain matter.

This isn’t game related, nor is it book related. It’s going to be a post on emotions, swirling maelstroms of brain matter, and general sadness. I’m also not naming names, nor am I going to give hints as to who the post may relate to, so as to protect the innocent. You know the drill.

Last week, someone close to me took an overdose. They spent the night in the hospital, and we found out the next day. This person is lovely. They have just landed an awesome job in the exact field they wanted to be in. But, they suffer from Depression, and as with a lot of people diagnosed with it, overamplifies or misunderstands intentions and words, winding them around until what started as a throw away comment ends up with huge momentum impacting on every action and thought. Eventually, they decided that things would never improve, and they took an overdose.

The above statement took me too long to write. I scrubbed it out, and rewrote it a number of times. I’m still not convinced that it reads how I mean it to, and don’t want it to appear that I’m belittling the triggers for this, I’m absolutely not.

I personally don’t suffer from Depression. Sometimes I feel low, sometimes I feel high. Mostly I consider myself a ‘normal person’ in so far as there is one. Perhaps I have a tendency to overthink things, but my brain also comes with an off-switch. I can flick this by indulging in computer games, board games, and in fact anything that requires my brain to strategise. I am, however, surrounded by people that _do_ suffer from it. (I say surrounded, like its some kind of plague, with outstretched arms, and moans of “Xaannaaxxxxxx”, you know what I mean…)

There’ve been millions of blog posts written about Depression. But when it hits close to home, you’re left feeling helpless. How do you show the person how much you care about them? How do you tell them how great they are? How can you convince them that what you’re saying is true, and not just something that you’re expected to say?

We sat down, and talked about it. Not at length, because it was obviously an uncomfortable situation, but we talked. Ultimately I think this is all we can do. I’m here. I’m available. This is the message I tried to get over. This is the message WE tried to get over.

But, the message also applies to everyone I know. If you’re part of my life, you’re part of my life because you’re awesome. If you think you’re not awesome, chances are you’re wrong. If things are shit, if it seems like everyone dislikes you, or everyone ignores you, or even that you just don’t see how things could get better… Know this. Things get better. Everything might seem shit, but it gets better. You may have fallen out with someone, but people fall out. It happens. If they’re worth being friends with, they’ll come around. If they’re not worth being friends with, save those neurons for focusing on people that are. (I don’t know if Neurons are used for focused thinking. Go with it?) If you want to talk, talk to me. If you can’t face talking because you’re anxious, nervous, shy etc. Send me an email. Send me a text. @ me on twitter. We can talk, we can help. Things will get better. Worst case scenario is that I use a pun so badly that you want to kill me, but thats ok. Direct it at me instead!
Cas

Of Mountains and freezing water.

Technically by now, I should have posted both a Werewolf update, and a D&D update. however, I spent the last week panicking quietly about a trip abroad. Questions like “whats going to go wrong”, “will I enjoy my trip away with people I don’t really know”, “How will I fit in”. All the standard questions…

Its my brothers 40th birthday, or it was a few days ago. We came out together to Marbella in Spain (I add that last part, because I don’t really know who reads this. It ‘could’ be helpful?) He invited around 20 people out, and in normal party fashion, it dwindled the closer it got to the day. we’ve had a total of 8, but right now, we’re at seven, as one was only able to be out for a few days.

I’ve met and spoken with a few of the other guests before, but they’re pretty much strangers to me, friends of my brother. I came into this knowing that most of them are heavy drinkers when out, and this is something that I’m not. But, that’s OK, because peer pressure isn’t a thing 🙂 To prove this,

image

A Large one

I had a cocktail, and told the waiter after that one was enough, and that I’d like a coke. He brought me a mini cocktail. laughs were had all round.
We’ve had a most amusing time so far. With humour befitting a group of blokes on holiday together. Cock jokes abound, and where double meaning can be found, its implied.
So far, we’ve sampled a lot of the local dishes. Something I’m sure Cal would be proud of me for. I don’t eat much variety. Local dishes cause panic attacks. I’ve only had one or two so far that I’ve not 100% known what they are, but I’m blocking my brain from filling in the gaps. We have two awesome guides in the form of Caleb’s friend Marc, and his Girlfriend Rofio. Marc is our driver/translator, and Rofio is his translator and provides the proper explanations to us.

We hoped to do some silly activities whilst out here, but so far most of the water sports and go-karting type things are closed. Today we hiked up a few mountain trails. Admittedly we didn’t climb peaks, but we got to experience some breath-taking scenery, meet some wild goats, and scream in terror at mountain roads. Roads only slightly wider than the car, with drop offs that make you pee your pants. admittedly, there’s barriers. I’m glad that someone made these barriers 100 years ago, out of untreated timber. They’re sure to stop a plummeting car!

I bailed on beers tonight, because I’m knackered, and my quick hour nap, turned into a quick 5 hour nap. However, its given me a little time to listen to music, watch some shows I saved to my tablet (in case of down time) and… well.. write this I guess?

Tomorrow, I’ll be taking a stroll, I’m heading down to hunt for the beach again. There’s a major road between the villa and the beach, and we tried to find a through route the other day. It led to Rob and I trespassing on a golf course, and being escorted off by security in a golf cart. I blame Rob… It was his idea!

Rumour has it that ‘funny beach’ has water sports. That’s its real name. Yes, we’ve nicknamed it something similar, but we’re blokes, and have been drunk for most of the holiday so far. We get a pass.

Gah, bloody buttons!

A week ago, we bought me a new coat. Its not something we do often, in fact, i think i’ve had 3 new coats in the last ten years. This time, we spent a little more, and got a lovely coat, which is both warm and snuggly.

This morning, while putting it on, I noticed that one of the buttons felt loose. I planned to come home, and re-sew it when I’d done the school run. Because god knows where I’ve put the spare buttons they always provide. While crossing the road, Maia pointed out the button rolling across the road ahead of us, clean under a car.

Damnit.

We were in a hurry, so I couldn’t stop to retrieve it, but I made a note of where the car was, and stopped to look on the way back. Couldn’t see it though 🙁

So now, I’m pulling apart the house, looking for the buttons that came with the coat.

its like finding a specific straw in a haystack

Experience Cinema the way it should be!

That sounds like some kind of advert for a cinema of the future, however its actually what happens when you go to a cinema at 11.30am on a tuesday, during school term time!

Oh, yeah, happy birthday to me! etc.

I’ve wanted to see ‘The Martian’ for some time. I read the book in anticipation, and I’m pretty sure you’ll find a post a month or two back about this. With life being as hectic as it is, being a secret agent, airline pilot, rocket ship inventor and all of those other exciting occupations that I don’t actually have, I’ve not yet had the chance to see it. Fortunately its my birthday, so I get to chose, and thats what I chose.

Our town has two cinema’s in. One is attached to the large shopping mall, and the other is at the end of the high street. The Mall one gets a lot of foot traffic, as its surrounded by fast food establishments. The other one, by default, is a lot quieter. This suits me perfectly. When Cal booked the tickets, she said we were sharing it with two other viewers. When she selected the seats, she realised those two viewers were actually the default placement spot for us. A large screen cinema for just the two of us. Just as the film started, another person joined our private viewing. How dare they! I allowed it though, 300 seats is probably enough room for the three of us to share.

One of the things about seeing something you’ve either already seen, or read (and enjoyed) the book of, is that you’re desperate for it to be good, and for the person watching it with you to enjoy it.

I could see that Cal was enjoying it, and it amused me at the end that she’d panicked about the same issue I had (when reading the book) as the film progressed. Was this one of those films where the main character dies, and you’re hearing about it from his diary?

I’m not going to spoil that one. Go read/watch it and find out.

Half Term Holidays are officially over.

This is a good thing. I’ve just dropped the youngest off at school, where Teaching staff have fixed their smiles, and are silently muttering “only 6 more weeks” under their breath. My daughter’s still at the age where she loves school, and really looks forward to going and seeing her friends. She thrills at the chance to learn new stuff, and take part in everything. That’ll be drained out of her in time, but for now, its great!

My younger son, however,  has to be Harangued out of the door though, and spends the morning grunting at us. I’m guessing its grunts of happiness and joy, but I could be wrong there.

Thinking back to my school life, I hated primary school. Back then, if you were being bullied (and I was) you needed to toughen up. Stand up to the bullies, and they’ll leave you alone. I tried this a few times, it just increased the number of kids that got involved.

So for Primary school, I dreaded every day of it. My secondary school was a long way from home, and this meant that there was zero chance of me being at school with any of the former bullies. It also meant very little chance for me to form friendships that lasted outside of school, as the closest person to where I lived lived 4 miles away. Whilst I made the trip to his house a few times, his idea of fun stuff to do didn’t always mesh with mine, but that was ok.

I’d travel in to school every day by train. It was a half an hour journey in, plus about a ten minute walk at each end. The school itself wouldn’t have won any OFSTED awards, unless they gave out awards for ‘meh-ness’. I’ve vague recollections of writing about what a mess they made of schooling for the five years I was there, so I’ll not recount that period again. Socially though, I quite enjoyed it. There was an underlying fear that half the kids at my school had access to knives, and were on the lookout for a fight. However I’m pretty sure every kid thinks this about their school. A few years of primary school bullying made me a fast runner, and pretty athletic all round, so I excelled in whichever sport we were doing at the time, though I wasn’t the best at throwing or the most accurate at kicking a ball.

I played on the school rugby team for a few years, and swam, rowed, and sailed whenever able. These were all activities I really enjoyed, and its weird to think I don’t do any of them any more. I lived by the sea for 8 years, and didn’t once try to find out how to get back into sailing. I guess it takes hindsight to point these things out.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and normally I’m excited for it. Sometimes I make a show of not being excited, whilst inside the 5 year old me is yelling about jelly and ice cream. Today though, I’m not really excited. I don’t know why, I don’t have anything planned for it. Cal asked what I’d wanted to do, and I really can’t think of anything that interests me at all. I think the mist and gloom of the November mornings might be creeping in, and I need something to either shake me out of it, or shine a bright beam of cheerfulness in.

I wonder if you can buy bright beams of cheerfulness on Amazon?

Its Officially BiteyMcChomp Month

November is the month of my Birth. Its also that weird month that has the strange acronym to try and get people writing. Nomobogofo or something… (NaNoWriMo to prove I can actually use Google.) However, I’m not spending this month writing a Novel, simply because I’m not ready to do that just now. I will, however, spend every day writing a blog post, just to prove I can do it.

Today, I spent a few hours travelling back from my folks in Poole. For the non-UK residents, Poole is on the south coast of England. Its pretty much slap bang centre of the bottom coast. For the last couple of years, I’ve taken the kids to my parents for Halloween. We’d go out trick or treating around that area, knocking only on doors that had decorations up. Each year, theres been more and more places advertising the fact that they’re joining in. This is great, because it means we no long knock on every house, only the ones that want to take part, and that means less disappointment for the kids.

We started the evening with everyone climbing into their costumes. Adults dressed up as well, and we took a circular route from my sisters house. Half way through, we stopped at Squirrel Park (thats not its real name, just what everyone calls it. Something to do with the abundance of pigeons there maybe?) It was dusk at this point, and the kids got to play spooky hide and seek in the park, then we carried on knocking on doors, and getting sweeties. Once done with our route, we headed back, and started the party games.

Firstly, bobbing for apples. Which each kid excelled at. Then on to dangling donuts. (donuts hanging on string, that the kids needed to eat without using their hands.) Then the “find the gummy worm” (gummy worm, hidden in a plate of cream.) This games actually a joke. They gingerly try to get the worm, and we give them a little push, so their face splats into the cream. After that, we let them loose in the back garden, to run round with torches, while we all grabbed a beer.

It was a lovely evening, but by 9, I could see my daughter flagging. We made our excuses, and headed back to my parents, where she crashed. I, as a grown up, also crashed.  (You can’t tell me what to do!)

It was a lovely weekend, but I’m glad to be home. I’m feeling the need for a hot bath, and some tv-watching.

 

The wonders of technology?

In 2004, I started working for a company that built its business around mobile data.

Mobile data (at the time) encompassed wifi, and GPRS. GPRS was around 35kbps. That was a little slower than dialup speeds (56kbps) but as the mobile internet wasn’t really developed at that point, it was mostly used for sending emails from mobile devices, mostly by business users. The company I worked for provided a service to mobile networks, and wifi providers, helping their customers connect to their data services, and connecting multiple devices together (laptop to phone, to share the phones internet connection). Since then, data speeds on mobiles have increased, firstly to edge (approx. double the speed of gprs) then 3g, then HSDPA, and finally 4g, which is what we’re on now. I don’t know the exact speed of 4G, because I’m currently travelling on a train, and my internet connection is fluctuating wildly.

This brings me to my point though. 11 years ago, I was working for a company who’s focus was having people connected to the internet while on the move. 11 years later, and I’m trying to connect to wifi on the train. The wifi on the train has no internet connection. I switched to wifi on my phone. No cell coverage for half the journey…

You think by now, coverage would be a little better!

<grumbles and goes back to reading his D&D handbooks>

 

Which emotion has the helm today?

I seem to start a lot of my blog posts with “When I was…” or something similar… this one’s no different I guess…

When I was a Teaching Assistant, working with kids with extra needs, I was invited to apply for a specialist role that had opened up. The official title was ELSA, Emotional Literacy Support Assistant. I was one of three people that showed interest, and one of two that actually applied for the role. The application involved submitting a document outlining my understanding of Emotional Literacy, and how it could be applied to children within the school. My only issue was, I had no idea what Emotional Literacy was. However, both the Head Master, and Deputy Head told me they thought it would be something I was good at.

That evening, I popped home, and fired up google. Determined to read up on it as much as possible. After a few powerpoint presentations (seriously… why did most staff use powerpoint to document?) and some vague wikipedia-ing, I had an idea of what it is.

Basically its broken down into “Knowing your own feelings/emotions”, “knowing how to deal with your feelings/emotions”, “Recognising others feelings/emotions”, “knowing how to respond to/fix feelings/emotions”.

I went on a five day course, which was supposed to teach you how to impart this wisdom to children, but whilst they provided a number of strategies, I left with the feeling that I already knew most of what they were teaching, but didn’t have a name for it.

I took some time to put together three workshops, based on three differently sized groups. (individual, 3 person, and 10 person) with an aim to delivering this training to those needed, and then worked with a number of children on it.

Most of the children I worked with understood basic emotions (happiness, sadness,) and I worked on things like anger, jealousy, loneliness. Some of the kids struggled to recognise this in others, or understand why. What I really could have done with, was some way to give these emotions some kind of personification.

Yesterday we went to watch “Inside Out”.

They’ve nailed it.

Damnit, where was this 5 years ago?

It was an incredibly moving (pun possibly intended) story of a young girl, who’s family moved a long distance from her childhood home, and she goes from a happy whacky little girl, to a girl who struggles with anger, fear and disgust.

Its a lovely film. My three kids loved it (and they range from neuro typical, to severely Autistic).

It gets the Bitey seal of approval. If only because I now get to ask my kids questions like “Is anger driving now?”

I think they’re gonna punch me.

 

Rainy days.

For 7 1/2 years, I lived in Bournemouth. I wokred locally, and we moved to London when I was offered better paid work. I’ve spoken about it before in posts.

With any area I’ve lived in., I often find I don’t make the most of the local facilities. In London we rarely use the museums for the kids, or any parks outside of the closest two. In Bournemouth, we rarely visited the beach, even though its one of our favorite places. However, in Dorset there are several other places that were on my list of places to go, but I just never got round to it.

One of these places was “The Jurassic Coast” <queue music from Jurassic World>. The cliffs, and strewn rocks at Kimmeridge Bay hold many Fossilized remains, and imprints from fossils. Mostly Ammonites, but there have been a number of awesome discoveries in the area. During a break in the rain, we decided to pop out and explore. Its about a 45 minute drive from my parents, through winding country roads and rolling hills.

As we got closer, the break in the rain got bored, and the rain came back. As we were already there, we decided to brave the rain, and fossil hunt anyway.

We got very wet. My two sons complained about being wet a bit, but enjoyed the fossil hunt none-the-less, and my daughter (and her cousin) ignored the rain, and had a whale of a time.

They found fossils, imprints, and some very large rocks to sploosh into the sea. It was a fun time, and something I should have done years ago. The rain is still going though, and I’m still pondering other tasks the kids can do while it pisses it down for their holiday.

 

Brilliant sunshine! well… maybe not.

Every year, in the last week of August, I make the pilgrimage to Poole with the kids to see my family. We try to get down a few times a year, but sometimes its just the last week of August.

For the last 3-4 years, its been amazing weather. Blistering sunshine every day, reflecting off the beautiful sandy beaches. We’d spend almost every day on the beach, soaked in factor 50 sunblock, and eating ice lollies.

On Saturday we braved the muggy heat in London to board 2 tubes, and a train. The train was on time, we were able to get seats, and we were ready for our holiday.

Twenty minutes into our journey I moved my daughter onto my lap. Although I’d bought a ticket for her, an older gentleman (looked to be in his eighties) was standing next to his wifes seat, and all seats were taken. We offered him her seat, and she shared a seat with her brother and me. Ten minutes later, the driver announced there were issues with the signals up ahead, and unfortunately this may delay our journey a little. The journey time was supposed to be two hours, and ended up being closer to three and a half.  Wasn’t a great start to the holiday really, but the kids were well behaved, we got our seat back after an hour, and all the kids electronics held a charge long enough to get us to our destination. On reaching Poole, it was bucketing it down. Someone had tried to lift the sea up in a sieve, and we were getting coated with the result.

This was ok though, it was early evening, and as long as it cleared up in the week, we’d be fine.

Sunday, and the sieve was still trying to bail out the sea.

Its now Monday, and I’m starting to wonder if we’re going to run out of rain water soon. I might have to head out, and find lumber and blueprints for an Ark.

I guess its the law of averages that we don’t have the best weather every year. Its just annoying that the kids are being kept away from the beach this year.

So instead, I’m trying to plan for bad weather activities. I offered the kids a chance to go to the cinema today. They declined, and are now hiding upstairs playing on their Tablets. I’d pretend to be a good parent, and limit their time on it, but to be honest I’m just happy that they’re happy.