Japanese Dogwood

Japanese Dogwood

When I moved to Exeter, one of the first things I did was to plant a tree. This year it’s gone ‘berserk’ and many of my neighbours have remarked on it… Which has led me to take more notice of it too.

Stockholm Library. Photo credit: Susan Yin on Unsplash.

Why do I read?

To be entertained by a cracking yarn. To comfort me in illness or sadness. To experience the thrill of a new beginning, and the potential that I hold in my hand for unfurling life or explosive change.

3D printed nodding donkey

Nodding donkeys

The nodding donkey is a grotesque distortion of circular natural seasonal fecundity into linear exploitative extraction. The donkeys are nodding to capitalism’s exponential growth message, always looking down even when their head is high, never looking up to reality or the future.

Clouds. Photo credit: phtorxp on Pixabay.

Breaking SAD – Springwatch

Things feel bad. Spring comes, the days get longer and the weather improves. But things still feel bad. So the feeling of badness is not just because it’s winter. The feeling of badness is yours.

Xray of lungs. Photo credit: Adam Ciesielski on FreeImages.

Migration can kill

Since my wander around St Loyes with Rosie King, I’ve been continuing to think about migration patterns. The daily migration of workers on Sowton Industrial Estate became particular obvious to me during “The Birds of Sowton Industrial Estate” as it emptied of cars at the end of the working day. How do we make this migration pattern less harmful? How can we persuade people out of their cars and onto their bikes/feet?

Kite flying. Photo credit: Sandra Morais on FreeImages.

Catching the wind

Mucknell Abbey, Worcestershire, 10 March 2011 – The anticyclonic frost and cold of the beginning of March has become cyclonic bluster and low cloud. I take advantage of the force 5-ish sou’westerlies, and reach for my kite.

Give blood at blood.co.uk

25 pints

Recently I received through the post a small package from the Blood service: a letter, certificate and badge to mark my 25th blood donation. I didn’t expect to feel so honoured and proud.

Emerging mushroom. Photo credit: ekamelev on Pixabay.

Breaking SAD

There are times for everything under the sun. Times for sleeping, times for waking, times for planting, times for reaping, times for getting stuff done, times for taking a step back.

Categories Blog
Axe. Photo credit: Markus Spiske on StockSnap.

Axe-grinding and the morally compromised

The sound of axes being ground is deafening, whether it’s the right-wing press incensed that the UK spends any money on overseas aid, or the UK government seeking to undermine an effective advocacy organisation. UPDATE: If you would like to help the people who Oxfam helps, see the comment for points you can make to your MP.

Game of Life in greyscale

Game of Life

The Game of Life is a pretty standard coding exercise. But what if Life is no longer seen in black and white, and instead in shades of grey? Update: Or in technicolor? And what happens if we tweak the rules?

Cycling along the shore. Photo credit: Peter J on FreeImages.

Clare goes for a bike ride

Clare is seduced by the sunshine symbol on her weather forecast app into going for a bike ride around Exeter. She plans to drop in on the FLOW tree planting on Exe Mill Field and the Ziggurat painting on Paris St to see how they are getting on.

Economic forecasting. Photo credit: geralt on Pixabay.

Nudge nudge

Question: “Is it easier to forecast the weather, which obeys the laws of physics, or the economy, in which the actors are swayed by the forecasts?”

Categories Blog
Fishing Boats with Eye of Horus (KNOW MALTA) by Peter Grima from MALTA - FISHING BOATS, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57478646

Second Curve

I heard management guru Charles Handy speak at Greenbelt on the need for second, third fourth… curves to living a fulfilling life.

Categories Blog
Boscastle-Tintagel on Open Street Map

Safety net

My map is a comfort blanket. Its grid lines are a safety net that give me the confidence to stride out. It gives me a sense of being in control.

Categories Blog
TEDxExeter 2017 HOPE. Design by Dacors.

Imaging HOPE

Written for TEDxExeter 2017 “HOPE”: Images are extraordinarily powerful. Those able to see, see before we learn to read, and orient our world by sight. They can convey truth, and they can manipulate, so should we be hopeful or despairing?

TEDxExeter 2017 HOPE. Design by Dacors.

A fortnight of HOPEful responses

Written for TEDxExeter 2017 “HOPE”: During 82 seconds on Wednesday 22 March, Briton Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing and injuring more than 50 people; fatally stabbed an unarmed police officer in New Palace Yard; and was shot and killed by an armed police officer. Over the next fortnight, these were some of the responses.

TEDxExeter 2017 HOPE. Design by Dacors.

Voices of HOPE

Written for TEDxExeter 2017 “HOPE”: Music has played an important role in many social movements, bringing hope to millions, fostering community, and encouraging perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

TEDxExeter 2017 HOPE. Design by Dacors.

HOPE and Joy

Written for TEDxExeter 2017 “HOPE”: The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu got together for a week to talk about the challenges of living a joyful life. The result was “The Book of Joy”.

TEDxExeter 2017 HOPE. Design by Dacors.

A new HOPE

Written for TEDxExeter 2017 “HOPE”: What was the last line we saw Carrie Fisher (albeit a CGI-reconstructed ever-youthful Carrie Fisher) deliver in a movie before she died?

Both side of the Soul Cube

World Origami Day

In modern times, origami has been used as a beacon of hope. I created the origami “Soul Cube” to help me get past that powerful critical voice in my head and access the deeper nurturing wise voice that speaks words I need to hear.

Detail from one of the Green|Blue images

God’s eye view

I’ve been working on a set of 21 images of flood risk around the south coast of England, from Sussex to Bristol. What has emerged is a beautiful forest of sometimes fragile, sometimes twisted trees.

TEDxExeter 2016 Dreams to Reality. Design by Dacors.

I have a dream

Written for TEDxExeter 2016 “Dreams to Reality”: Martin Luther King dreamed of a better world, and he had been to the mountaintop. And yet it wasn’t about the mountain, but about the view over the mountain to what lies ahead.

TEDxExeter 2016 Dreams to Reality. Design by Dacors.

First a dream

Written for TEDxExeter 2016 “Dreams to Reality”: “All we need to begin with is a dream that we can do better than before. All we need to have is faith, and that dream will come true. All we need to do is act, and the time for action is now.”

Bad hair on landing from a tandem skydive. Worse things have happened, I suppose!

The day I jumped out of an aeroplane

Hospiscare does amazing work in caring for terminally ill people and providing respite for their carers, and relies on the generosity of many people to continue this work. I have had a surprising number of connections with them, through friends, family friends, work, church, and singing. So I wanted to do something to help.

BBC Bias

The complaint I made to the BBC for refusing to include the Green Party in the general election TV leader debates.

BP has been found "grossly negligent" in the lead-up to Deepwater Horizon. Credit: skeeze on Pixabay

Petroleum

BP has been found “grossly negligent” in the lead-up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I wrote a series of haikus in response to the original event, and other oil-related events past and imagined,

What apocalypse lies behind frosted glass?

Zombie Apocalypse

“I would ask you to take a walk on your own (where and at what time of day is up to you) for at least half an hour. I would like you to walk ‘as’ the last human survivor of a zombie apocalypse.”

Yes, it's a pic of books in a library. Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash.

Exeter Library Square

How we name our streets and public buildings is a reflection of the values of history and our values today. It subconsciously and subtly affects our self-worth.

Food sorting. Photo snaffled from Exeter Foodbank website.

Letter to Hugo Swire MP

How is it that in a country as wealthy as the UK, more than 500,000 people are reliant on food parcels? Please represent your constituents, and do something to address food poverty, injustice and inequality.

View of St Michael's Mount from the top of James Turrells' Tewlwolow Kernow at Tremenheere Sculpture Parl

Tewlwolow Kernow

It was a hot bright day during the 2013 summer heatwave. I approached from below through the gardens recently planted with exotics from even hotter climes. I passed through a circular seating space, an antechamber, through a narrow door into a low and dark space stoppered by light in front and behind, and opened out suddenly into bright height.

Forget-me-nots on the verge of Ludwell Valley Park... now wantonly strimmed!

Wildflower whispers!

Now is the time when we most need our pollinators, and our pollinators need wildflowers to thrive. So I have been feeling sad over the last few days about the acres of wildflowers in the verges in Exeter that are being strimmed, and took it upon myself to protest a little…

Blackbird singing. Photo credit: Alexander Wallnöfer via Free Images.

Must. Not. Get. Sarcastic. Ach failed again.

Oh dear, I was writing about Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, then I was writing about modern criticism of the book, then I was writing about environmental regulation vs economic freedom, then I was quoting George Osborne, and it all went downhill from there. But I enjoyed the rant 🙂

Living the Questions: What is true freedom? How can we be bound together again? Photo credit: geralt via Pixabay.

Living the Questions at TEDxExeter 2013

There are several possible origins for the word ‘religion’ and its modern senses. None of these need imply certainty and rule out doubt. I want to go back to the etymological origins of ‘religion’, and ask a few questions. In the spirit of the TEDxExeter 2013 theme of Living the Questions, I’m not expecting to answer them.

-den means pasture, usually for pigs. Photo credit: Fran Linden on Free Images.

Surname migration

The Great Britain Family Names website allows you to find out where your surname comes from, and how many people share it. Bryden isn’t that common, but what interests me is the geographical spread.

Ploughed field in Ludwell Valley Park

Buy this

Brueggemann: “the yearning for land is always a serious historical enterprise concerned with historical power and belonging. Such a dimension is clearly played upon by the suburban and exurban real estate ads that appeal to that rapacious hunger.”

Malbork Castle. Photo credit: Pawe³ Windys via Free Images.

Counter-tourism memories

Malbork Castle in Poland, built in the mediaeval period by the Teutonic Knights, is the largest castle in the world by surface area, and the largest brick building in Europe. I visited with a friend in 1992.

Old Heavitree Quarry face on Quarry Lane

Heavitree quarries

When did the Heavitree quarries stop being worked? The old maps provide some evidence.

St Loyes Chapel

St Loyes Chapel

It’s a pleasant little segment in Rifford Road, set in a garden surrounded with metal railings. There is a bus-stop in front, and it is very ease to miss St Loyes Chapel altogether if you don’t know it is there.

Cat in a box. Photo credit: Giane Portal via Free Images.

Schrödinger’s Lazarus

In Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment, there is no way of knowing the state of the system without opening the box. Hence to the outside observer the cat is both living and dead, smeared out in equal parts.

Woodwater Lane by night

Woodwater by night

I spent a day immured in the office at the computer, feeling wintry-cold while it rained and rained. By night-time, I was completely frowstie at being stuck indoors. As the rain had pretty much dried up, I decided on some mythogeography. Going for walks at odd times, like 10.30pm, follows mythogeographical principles, after all.

Digby Water Tower on a Woodwater wander

Woodwater wander

As a birthday treat, I promised myself a walk down Woodwater Lane, from home to water to wood to home again. A satisfying experimentation in exploring the present day.

Local explorations triggered by a corn cockle

From wood to water

Yesterday, cycling down a section of Woodwater Lane, I noticed a corn cockle in the bank. It struck me that I have cycled down the lane many a time, walked down it occasionally, picked blackberries at that time of year, but I have never really paid attention to it.

Kissing gate in Ludwell Valley Park

Ludwell life

It was a happy accident that the house I bought when I moved to Exeter is very close to Ludwell Valley Park. It is my slice of countryside in the city, where I can wander down enclosed lanes, through fields of nodding purple grasses.

Flags around the world. Photo credit: Tibor Fazakas on Free Images.

Dear Reader

I find writing a blog slightly weird. Well, not so much writing it, as thinking about who’s reading it. Something strikes me, I write a post and publish it. I’m just writing about stuff that interests me. It’s weird to think that this might interest other people as well.

Sonic branding and the Daily Office

I’ve been watching some of the highlights of the Euro2012 football tournament. The online clips, at least on the BBC website, all start with the flowery Euro2012 logo and a burst of five notes ba-da-ba-bup-ba.

Yes, it's a pic of books in a library. Photo by Jessica Ruscello on Unsplash.

Reading to know we are not alone, part 1

I am pretty well read, in theory. In practice, I remember very little of what I’ve read. I read quite quickly, but even if I read slowly I still wouldn’t remember what I’ve read. Which means that I often get the pleasure of reading a good book twice, and I can appreciate the journey again.

On speed

On 29 September, Phil Hammond, the then Transport Secretary, proposed increasing the speed limit on motorways to 80mph. We may as well, mayn’t we? After all, Department for Transport figures show that as many as 49% of drivers currently flout the current 70mph limit.

I have the same dream. Photo credit: Jerónimo Bernot on Unsplash.

Values going viral

People don’t make decisions based on rational assessment of facts; they make decisions according to how they fit with their values and identity. Psychologists classify values as either extrinsic, which concern status and success, or intrinsic, which concern relationships and benevolence. How can we make intrinsic values go viral?

A pile of fresh vegetables. Photo by Sven Scheuermeier on Unsplash.

Food #BAD11

Thoughts around the L of the LOAF principles – Local, Animal friendly, Organic, Fairtrade – and how you apply these principles when confronted by a bewildering array of choices.

The world is my ostrich. Photo credit: cocoparisienne on Pixabay.

Welcome to my new blog

It will probably be about things that interest me, related to my ponderings on where next… research? consultancy? kitchen gardening? writing? web design?