Sunday 15th April, 2012

So. Bootcamp. Basically, the idea of the bootcamp is immersion resulting in increased confidence with Welsh as a (limited) speaker, not just a learner. No dog, no English, no phone signal (by the coincidence of being on the wrong network for the area) and no Internet connection (not by coincidence but by virtue of the housing) for a week. I can’t say I’ve actually learnt that much – it’s cleaned up a bit of my pronunciations but any new vocabulary probably won’t be remembered until I proceed with Gwrs 2 (finally). However, one of the things to come out of bootcamp is the decision to write some posts around languages in the near future. There are a few things that this might end up bringing to the site:

  • A “Languages” (or “Ieithoedd”?) page. I want to ensure a permanent, obvious mention of SaySomethinginWelsh [External Link] with a bit of an explanation about how things are working out for me. But as someone who speaks English as their first language and who, some time in the dim and distant past, learnt some French it might also be worthwhile making a generalised page.
  • Linked to that, I’m considering doing a blog post about my experience of the bootcamp (more on this in a bit). You can find some general updates and other people’s comments here: SSiW forum – Tales from April Bootcamp 2012 [External Link].
  • And, finally for this section, I think there’s a fair amount of ideas / information for my world-building section of posts. I have some notes that may or may not come to fruition over the next week or so.

With respect to the “My experience” / how well I coped part of the subject, the answer is: I survived. The couple of times I’m actually mentioned in the bootcamp forum thread suggests I didn’t spoil everyone’s fun by being stressed out for the majority of the week. I feel a bit of a fraud / idiot for two main reasons on this one. Firstly, I didn’t actually warn anyone I have a tendency to shatter under stress (i.e. warn them I have Asperger’s) and, secondly, I didn’t plan for it myself. I hadn’t expected to just break on Easter Saturday (after a long drive).

It’s not like I didn’t expect to be stressed – new people, new place and new language? Come on! – but I thought I had my coping mechanisms in place. Turns out that I hadn’t. If I write a more involved post on bootcamp, I’ll explain all these things in more depth. Anyway, where the fraudulent element comes in, of course, is that my being so wound up has the potential to lessen or hide other people’s struggles in the same situation. Nervousness and (lack of) confidence is not something special to those of us diagnosed as on the Autism Spectrum, and we were all out of our everyday comfort zones. While I’m hardly an expert, everyone seemed to deal with things very well and we did all come away feeling better about speaking Welsh. (But I would warn anyone considering going to make sure they understand the stress involved. Don’t let it stop you but do understand that it’s all going to be a shock to the system. Talk things over with the organisers before you go if you think there might be a problem. They want you to go and they want to help you get the best out of the week.)

I did write a little bit at bootcamp (dispensation from “dim saesneg” as it’s my main coping strategy without Finn around) but my brain essentially fried some time on Easter Sunday and I have a very small word count of about a thousand words on various ideas I may not get back to – some non-fictional for the website and some words on a mid-length story idea that may not work properly. It was a little weird trying to write because my brain kept flip-flopping between languages. It’s still doing it now: starting in Welsh, realising it doesn’t have the right words so switching to English. Unfortunately, the result is very basic and the words still aren’t the right ones. This may improve with redrafting and continuing to work through the idea.

So, to the other ideas that came up as scratched markings in my notebook. Along with the standard fiction stuff and the language posts, you can expect to see mention of in the next few months is genealogy. I’ll be restricting anything I publish to three main family / name groups: the THOMASes, the TABERNERs and the CHARLESWORTHs. I need to investigate how best to make information available (with the standard proviso that I’m probably wrong, etc, etc) and look over the existing stuff. It’s been a while since I’ve done any research and it’ll take me a while to get back on top of things – if I can find time.

The final new thing to look out for in the future: there will be a new Hellhound in the next few months. Rosie is currently four weeks old (if I have my dates right). The result of an accidental mating of my sister’s Jack Russell and Shih-tzu (Yes, I’ve seen the obvious joke and I do find it very funny), Rosie will hopefully be joining us in four to eight weeks. I’m going to need to take some time off work to supervise introductions and that will probably dictate when she joins the pack.

And, to finish off today’s ramblings, there were two additions in the week before bootcamp to re-mention:

  1. I put up a new version of Order of Play, which indicates the latest Alex Jones has been allowed to live. I am still undecided whether to post it on the website or try to find a more suitable home for it.
  2. I posted a mention of the Smallsword Symposium IV, which has since been given a webpage of it’s own here: [External Link]. (Event page also updated.)

Sunday 28th August, 2011

In which I admit defeat in genealogy (again).

Those of you who’ve come to the site before may notice a slight change. My Genealogy button has gone. As I said last week, I’m just not spending enough time on it to ensure the information is up to date (in the sense of using all currently available sources and following the current theory of who is related to whom). Which means I may have been spreading lies and misinformation – and ignorance is no excuse, etc, etc. So, that section has been taken down for the time being. It may return if I get back into genealogy, it may not.

So, thank you again to everyone who has helped me in my own searches, providing me with transcriptions, advice and leads. I apologise for those times when my own help hasn’t been of the same calibre and “bless you” to those for whom it has. Happy hunting!

In writing news, I’m almost there with Arthur on the Wall, or Part I of The Three Guineveres! I have one maybe two sections to write (hopefully this weekend) and the redrafting starts. So next week I hope to be spamming people with requests for readers – of an otherwise incomplete story. Basically, I just want to know whether it’s working. If it is, it’ll get put back into my writing schedule after I’ve worked through the 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf redrafting.

Sunday 21st August, 2011

Time for a change of pace. Changes to genealogy, swords and writing.

So. Genealogy. Been a while. Which is kind of the point of this week’s diary. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to get back into my family history any time soon, so I’m taking down the family pages next week. This is just advance warning to anyone who may come this way and an excuse to extend my thank-yous to the genealogy community. And, guys, you have been great. You have been endlessly helpful, endlessly communicative with someone who has struggled to keep up with you, endlessly patient with my mistakes.

While I know that the people we research do not go anywhere, and don’t resent being abandoned, I figured the best thing to do was to take down the section because the way the data is put together does change. For those who have never done any family history research, it’s hard to explain the thrill of putting together what is effectively a four dimensional jigsaw puzzle – that probably doesn’t have a “right” way of being put together based on the amount of information available. There’s definitely no picture on the box. Even the first hand data you think you know, like your own parents and siblings, can be sadly mistaken in the wrong circumstances (just watch a Jeremy Kyle show for about 5 seconds). Basically, as I’m not reviewing the information I display on this site or doing further research, it’s being left behind, an outdated snapshot. I’ve been told I have been spreading misinformation a couple of times over the decade or so, and warned to watch out for it, but I’m not putting in the time. Which means what is held on this site could effectively be a lie and I wouldn’t know it.

So, again, thank you to everyone who has helped me in the questing years, provided me with transcriptions, advice, leads, maps. I apologise for those times when my own help hasn’t been of the same calibre and “bless you” to those for whom it has. If anyone would like copies of my data, please GET IN TOUCH and we’ll work it out from there.

In the swords section, I’ve started putting up events. Some of these I’ll be attending, some I can’t go to for whatever reason. I’m simply putting them up here so that you can see what’s going on and get them a bit more publicity. Speaking of publicity, don’t forget to visit the shared SSS website [External Link]. If you’re interested in historical fencing and near either, please drop us a line. Correct contact details for the SSS Sheffield club are avaiable through the official website.

And my main time sink (outside of work and Finn): writing. I have four sections to go until the end of Arthur on the Wall, or Part I of The Three Guineveres, assuming no extra bits and pieces needed by characters. I know I need to go back and rewrite at least a couple of them, though. That said, I expect to be finishing off draft one by the end of the month. Then I need to farm it out to check it’s worth carrying on with the other two parts. (Any victims willing volunteers?) Then it’s back to 25 Ways to Kill a Werewolf and redrafting.

Monday 27th June, 2011

Alt.Fiction [External Link] has been and gone for another year and I’m having my central heating fixed during a mini heatwave.

Although the forecast indicates the heatwave will be ending tomorrow, while the central heating work will continue over the rest of the week. I have explained carefully to Finn that this will be “Bring your dog to work” week, not “Let your dog eat the plumber” week.

The heatwave sprung up on the second day (Sunday) of Alt.Fiction. It wasn’t particularly cold on the first day, but it wasn’t the almost thirty degrees centigrade it hit by the end of the Sunday. Although I’m sure that Adele of Un:Bound [External Link], who was stuck in the podcasting suite for almost the entire weekend (she was let out for good behaviour at lunch time – for about half an hour – and at the end of the day), will say otherwise. That was one hot and stuffy room usually crowded with an audience. Made up of those people smart enough to realise the podcasts were allowed audiences. I was not one of those until Sunday.

Pretending to play the guitar and genealogy obviously haven’t progressed since the last update (although I now have a stack of TABERNERs to check over and possibly add to the online data. It would be nice to say I have something to show for my writing work. However, the work has mostly been of the mental exercise variety (got to love workshops that get you thinking about your WIP, whether intended to be applied so directly or not). I did manage to rattle off the first draft of the “sort of noir science fiction thing” I mentioned last week and that is now with my alpha reader, Dylan Fox. The shhh! project is awaiting feedback and I have, oddly enough, received some more – and very comprehensive – feedback on 25 Ways to Kill A Werewolf. The good news is it looks like the latter might even get to second draft stage! So, back to The Three Guineveres and the seventh battle!

Sunday 19th June, 2011

It’s another “nothing to see here” update but, if you want to know about it, click on the “read more”.

As you may have noticed, it was Father’s Day today – in the UK, at least. This week is also my big sister’s birthday week (Happy Birthday, Sam!). As per usual, we’ve ended up combining the two and having the celebrations this evening. We like our family things small and quiet, so that’s pretty much all there is to it.

In terms of my spare time, genealogy is still pretty much on hold. I haven’t managed to coax The Master Genealogist back up to functioning order again. I run Ubuntu (9.04 LTS, if I remember the numbers correctly) as my operating system and I have to do things to make Windows-based programs run. I’m following exactly the same instructions as last time and I can’t get things to display properly. It’s not like I had any updates to make, so you probably won’t notice the difference!

In my writing time I’ve moved The Three Guineveres (Part I) a little closer to the seventh battle. In fact, the next bit written should be the seventh battle itself. I’ve also been working on another one of those projects I don’t like to mention (so shhhh!) and have detoured into turning one of Arthur’s knight’s tales into a sort of noir science fiction thing.

Oh, and I’m still somehow tinkering around on the guitar. I haven’t got bored of it, yet.

Next week’s update will be delayed (although it will turn up, unlike last week’s) because it’s Alt.Fiction [External Link] weekend in Derby. Maybe see you there?

Sunday 5th June, 2011

We all survived half-term. I think.

So, the holiday round-up:

  • My niece did not sleep in her very own, very pink bedroom at my house. She (and her dog, Poppy) slept in “mummy’s room” – the other spare bedroom. Which meant that Finn was relegated to sharing with me. Like Jenny, he doesn’t seem to think single beds are worthy of the name “bed”. Either that or he shares my distaste for pink.
  • I bought a new string for the three-quarter size guitar, a carry case (because you know it’s not going to get handled with care in transit, no matter how careful the five year old) and a basic music book that’s still technically too old. Both Granpa and I spent some time showing Jen where to put her fingers (me with the aid of the book) and she seems happy with it although she’s cheerfully ignoring all coaching.
  • Oddly enough, I managed to walk off with Granpa’s guitar. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. Possibly the fact that I obviously enjoyed learning more than Jenny while round at his. I have been lent it indefinitely / until such time as I care to buy a replacement. Which is cool – even if I will have got into the habit of playing left-handed by then.
  • We didn’t see Rio on Wednesday morning (IMDB link here: [External Link]), at least not all the way through. We lasted half an hour. In Jen’s defence, the bad guy (bird?) is voiced by Jemaine Clement doing what sounded like a very good Tim Curry impression.
  • The computer died but it only took me twenty-four hours to get it back up and running, less some hard-drive(s). The worst hit in all of this is my genealogy hobby (yet again). The data are intact but I haven’t finished persuading the software I use that it wants to work with the Ubuntu operating system (yet again).

As you can probably guess, not much writing has got done. No change there, then. Things would probably go faster if I taught Finn to type and he could do his own work instead of looking at me with disappointment.

Sunday 3rd April, 2011

You know, I would actually be more interesting if I did things… Minor writing updates and some genealogy updates may be turning up for next week.

In between the birthday stuff and spending several hours looking at various shades of cream and off-white (Hey, lookit! I’m a girl after all!) I’ve done the bare minimum of doodling through the last fortnight so let’s start with writing as it’s got some tangible evidence of work.

  • There’s been an update on the Archangels’ page as I’ve belatedly found out some news. The original email way back when fell through my spam filters and I decided to check up on it and… basically, The Gospel was been republished in an updated version of the anthology as the original publishers went defunct last year. So, new links on the Archangel page lead to places it can be bought from.
  • As a few of my friends know, I’ve had a crack at writing some stories for my niece and now I don’t know what to do with them. Well, after a stern talking to, I’m actually seeing about rehoming them. In the unlikely event that I’m the next big thing in picture books, you heard it here first…
  • And, on the theme of branching out from speculative fiction, I haven’t heard back from the romance stuff, so we can safely assume that I won’t be taking over the world by that method. I’ll still be sending the manuscripts out but it’s not exactly a priority in my writing workload.

So, on to queuing up some future changes in the genealogy pages.

  • I have had contact this week with a fellow SANSOM descendant by the name of Roger SANSOM and, if he’s amenable to the sharing of information, a few more people may be joining the database. I’ll update the report as soon as we get things hammered out.
  • I’ve also been contacted by another TABERNER descendant whose branch have been heavily involved in the TABERNER inheritance squabble. As a result, I should be able to put together enough information to have a reasonable explanation of what happened to the (alleged) fortune. I have some transcriptions of newspaper articles and a photocopy of the will that (I think) set it all off but I haven’t been sure about how things all went sideways and how to connect it all together. In other words, more verbage on the TABERNER page at some point soon!

I still have some emails and comments to catch up on, so apologies for being slow to those I haven’t contacted yet. I will be doing so soon. Otherwise, see you all next week!

Sunday 6th February, 2011

A minor spring-clean on the site and some sword news (or, “Come to SWASH 2011 [External Link]!”).

So, for those who’ve been in the last week or so, you may have noticed the look of the site changing slightly from day to day. I’ve made a couple of tweaks to how text displays on the page and have then gone back through all the individual site pages (not including the diary archive) to update them to the new standard. I’ve caught a few more spelling mistakes and edited some sentences that just didn’t make sense. If you see anything that didn’t get caught that’s an obvious mistake, please let me know. For that matter, please let me know if something isn’t displaying as well as it should!

The updating also includes (as promised) the report available on the LOWE page. Although I now know where in Shropshire Zachariah LOWE (mk I) is from – what is now the Telford area – I haven’t found any further information on the family, yet. The most likely lead, oddly enough, is a christening in Worcestershire.

As you’ve been reading / I’ve been banging on about for a few months now, 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf (See the Alex Jones’ page) is my main pass-time at the moment. I’ve now written method 18 and I’m about to launch into method 19 – after walking Finn and reading through a story draft for Dylan Fox [External Link]. After that, 6 more werewolves to kill. Almost there! Woot!

(PS. I thoroughly recommend following through the Foxie link, as he has some interesting blog entries in general but he – like a lot of us – is not a big fan of David Cameron right now and has articulated it better than I ever will.)

Finally, the sword news. I shall be at SWASH 2011 [External Link] at Leeds Royal Armouries on the weekend February 19th & 20th. More precisely, I shall be stooging (being an instructor’s sidekick and whipping boy) for the “Small Sword dis-arms” session on the Saturday, the instructor being Simon McGrory from the Sheffield SSS [External Link]. Entrance to the sessions and talks at SWASH is charged but members of the public will actually be able to observe the training sessions. If you’re at all interested in taking up fencing, sport or historical, or any other western martial art for that matter, it’s well worth a look.

Monday 31st January, 2011

Okay, so I don’t have a good excuse. I’m just late.

For the second week on the trot, I’m running a day late with the update but this time I don’t have a decent excuse like a wedding. Mainly I just got distracted over the weekend and just never made it to sitting down for five minutes to write the diary entry as there’s no site updates scheduled until next week.

My main distraction continues to be 25 Ways To Kill A Werewolf (See the Alex Jones’ page). Method 16 is written and I’m putting together the outline of method 17, which I guess means I’m officially on the count-down. With luck I’ll be finished with the first draft about mid-March. I’d prefer earlier but I hate to commit to it, knowing that life is that thing that happens while you / one makes other plans.

Next week, I’ll be updating the report available on the LOWE page as I haven’t found any further information on the family, yet. I also haven’t been looking that hard (see above). I’ll get back to my dead people one day.

Sunday 2nd January, 2011

Happy New Year! And another genealogy update, this time a major change to the CUTTS page.

New Year is a time for looking forward. So it’s perhaps a little ironic that I spent it looking backwards. It came to my attention recently that my CUTTS data wasn’t what it should be. I say it came to my attention because the actual correction was made online by someone else to someone else. It’s a bit like having overheard a conversation. Like anyone who eavesdrops, I can’t say I’m 100% happy with what was said. However, I’ve published incorrect data and names that someone else would rather aren’t published, so the CUTTS family page has now been overhauled and stripped back to the bare minimum of “what I’m sure of”. I have some leads from the 1841 census data and will be chasing up the history again. If I have time. If I feel like it.

If you are researching CUTTS in the Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire / South Yorkshire region, I urge you to go look at the links quoted on the page. My data is very rarely sourced from primary materials, anyway. I have other commitments and responsibilities – all of which mean my work is done through the Internet and likely to be error prone. (This is a warning that stands for all of my families and I’d thought I’d made that clear. Apparently not.) Anyway, there are people who have done more in-depth research on the CUTTS and you can find them through those links (and they are better sources than I).

Also, I haven’t managed to push back the LOWE data beyond “Paines Lane”, Shropshire (now St George’s, Telford) as yet. If I haven’t found anything further by February, I’ll update the report with the minor tweak / correction rather than further research.

As for the source of my defeatist attitude towards genealogy, aside from a number of computer related issues last year that have made looking after the information time-consuming and occasionally a pain to the point of wanting to jack it in, I quite like to have time to read, watch the new tv (I was without for two years and now I’m finding the missed films absorbing), walk Finn, work so I can pay bills as well as writing. The benefit of “brain-space” – what I call the time to unwind from one involved set thinking before picking up the next overload of ideas – shouldn’t be underestimated, either. It can be easy to shift gears but, when you have a very mentally involving job, it isn’t always possible to do it with the same ease. This has actually been one of the reasons behind my relatively light writing output and lack of genealogy updates for the last five or six months.

Still, excuses excuses, eh?