Thursday, 31 July 2008

Any one for adrenaline?

On Saturday evening I opened the back door to grab some dog food from the big metal bin we keep it in and heard a funny rasping noise in the field behind the house. I looked up and saw that one of the tups was rubbing himself against the wire fence and sort of coughing. He was also foaming a bit around the mouth. These particular tups are mostly Leicesters and they're not known for surviving ailments. I rushed back in to find Badger, hoping that her agricultural college days might have instilled some knowledge about sheep-coughing.

She dutifully came to give a second opinion and suggested that perhaps he was dehydrated, and I should go and take a closer look. Suddenly he bolted, running for about five meters before he was restrained by the yellow hose-pipe which was tied around his neck. I have no idea how but this fellow had managed to not just loop the hose around his neck but actually tie a proper knot in it as well. 

Most of the rams around here have horns and you'd be foolish to get into a croft with one that might be unhappy, but Leicesters are horn-free and very friendly, so it was only out of fear that he might take fright and choke himself further that I decided not to hop the fence and try to get it off myself. Instead I legged it to the farm where I found the farmer and his family having a BBQ, and so it was only a couple of minutes before the farmer was in the field sorting it out. Phew. He said that there's no doubt that the Tup wouldn't have survived much longer. I kept expecting Michael Buerk's voice to cut in with some dramatic cliches.

Ms M thinks I am disproportionately invested in the well-being of critters (though I'm not averse to them ending up on my plate with some roast potatoes). I was rather worked up about the near-strangling of the Tup, but assumed I'd had my adrenaline for the weekend. This was not to be the case.

On Sunday night little Ruby had a run in with an over zealous farm dog up the road. Ruby was largely oblivious to the gaping hole in the top of her leg, which was quickly doused in sheep wound treatment (the dog's owner is a Defra vet) before we rushed her to the emergency vets. Ms M did a stirling job of maintaining a decent speed over the tops in the dusk while somehow avoiding the dozens of suicidal sheep, rabbits, baby lapwings and even a proper hare who threw themselves into our path.

The vets were wonderful (with me, as I was in a far worse state than Ruby), patched her up temporarily and dispatched us with antibiotics. On Tuesday Ruby had a procedure done to take away the bits of skin that weren't going to be viable and fix the whole thing up. The interim period was interesting, but I'll spare you the gory details.

So. Tuesday was already an event filled day. Ruby has a heart murmur which means that sedative is to be avoided, but luckily she's very compliant so she got through her little op with just a local. The vets claim she was as good as gold. I believe them but suspect that if they'd had to kneel on her head to get her to stop wiggling then they might not tell me anyway.

During all this I'd been doing a very good job of patiently waiting for news about The Triangle Book. I'd submitted my audition last Thursday, expecting to hear back late on Friday. I am not good at waiting under the best of circumstances. By Monday night I was pretty much rocking.

Now, I know that for many of you, the idea of writing a 500 page text book on geometry is strangely less than appealing. But for me, this is the holy grail. This publisher write the best learning books I've come across. I love their books, most of which are best sellers in their class. I don't know how to communicate what this means to me ... it's like coming up with an idea for a chocolate bar and being asked to produce it by Cadburys.

Anyway, on Tuesday night I finally got the nod. As in, yes, they think they want me to do it! Eek! So, in about 2 weeks time I'm off to the US for a few days for some training. 

I enjoyed doing my audition chapter so much that I can hardly stop jumping about with excitement at the idea of doing the whole book. It's my idea of heaven.

It feels like a really important project. Geometry (and algebra, because frankly you can't do geometry without it) is so pure and beautiful. Plus, Master M is going to rock at this stuff by the time I'm done. If I do it right it will help millions of people to grasp the fundamentals of mathematics for many years to come. How cool is that?

There are still a couple of steps in the process to come. And I'm still in the final stages of the climate change book - we keep getting 90% done and then moving the goal posts at the moment. I'm on second draft of the first 80% though, which feels good.

I should take a moment here to thank Badger, who came up with the idea that I should contact the publisher and offer my services. And also for her excellent artwork on my audition. Badger is part of the appeal to the publisher - the fact that I have a designer who is so well suited to doing the fancy bits is perfect. We're really a package deal, so I hope she's feeling pleased about it too, even if the square-root signs make her feel a bit sick ...

In other exciting news, nmj's book The State of Me has dispatched from Amazon today!  Ms M and I will be fighting over it this weekend no doubt ...

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A Wallaby and a Hedgehog..

Whilst I was posting the picture of the Hedgepig yesterday evening, he returned by the back door. Ms M kindly gave him a plate of cat biscuits, and Wallaby Cat thinking it rude to leave our guest eating alone joined in.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Today in the Dales...

This young Hedgepig came to visit yesterday.. and how odd that as I write this he is at the back door paying another visit.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Surely that won't sell ... ?

Bold fabric conditioner have released a new fragrance: White Diamond and Lotus Flower.

As diamond is a famously hard and chemically unreactive substance which, it follows, has no smell, Ms Melancholy and Badger have concluded that the name was mixed up at the last moment.

Why anyone would want their washing to smell of cheap cider, vomit and their mother's Charlie is beyond us.

P.S. in more random TV bloggage, Ms M dreamt last night that Andy Peters - former darling of children's TV who is currently irritating the life out of us impressing us all on Celebrity Masterchef - was awarded an OBE for 'Services to Goose Fat'.  Analyse that. 

Thursday, 24 July 2008


In the last couple of weeks I have been working on two writing projects which couldn't be more diverse.

On the one hand, The Survival Paradox is about the inevitability of the human struggle to balance short-term self-interest against long-term community-interests. It is about what makes the issue of Global Climate Change so challenging: not the technical aspects but the social aspects. The barriers to saving our planet are all socially constructed, existing solely within our collective imagination. There is no Rational Economics, there is no Nation State, there is no spoon...

The Survival Paradox is about our felt-truths. Felt-truths are the rules and meanings about the world which we have gathered in a sensible attempt to reduce the chaos and uncertainty which we experience. The fact that they are so effective, and so affective, does not make them true. The only real truth lies in mathematics and science, and it exists as ratios; the world beyond numbers. 

(Our number system is social constructed - there is nothing special about the number ten unless you choose to count in tens).

Truth does not have units of measurement. It does not come in pounds or dollars.

Truth comes in circles and triangles, and little else.

The Survival Paradox is a search for the truth, which is that there is little truth in our world. This statement is itself a meta-narrative and thus a Liar's Paradox. It is an attempt at truth with continuous doubt; a book that seeks to prove the fact that almost nothing can be proved. *sigh*

No wonder I am tired. Envigorated and utterly grateful to have been on this journey, but exhausted.

The other writing project is my audition chapter for a deal to write a book about geometry. It is exclusively about triangles, circles and ratios. It seeks to help the reader find the proofs for themselves.

Yin yang, and all that jazz.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Wii are a familii

From left to right: Badger, Ms M, Stray and Master M.

There is absolutely no truth in any rumour that we have spent this evening making wii-miis of everybody from blog-land. None at all.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

More photos...

I am not wanting to bore anyone with my photos.... its just I was quite proud of these ones I took today and I wanted to share them. Ms M and Stray will be back with wise words very soon I am sure, but for now you get my pictures of the Dales.

Wet Dales..

Its wet and showery up here, but a good opportunity to take pictures of angry sky's, however it required great patience waiting for that rare sun burst to brighten the foreground.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Dear Daz... (Proctor & Gamble)

I am messaging you after my distress at your intrusional TV advertisement.
I feel disturbed and disgusted since witnessing it for a number of reasons, mainly its sexual connotations with such vile characters clearly portraying British pervness. When I saw your advert all I could think of was filth. Is this your way of encouraging us to wish to be clean? I feel that you should know that your advert is disturbing and would never encourage me to buy your washing powder. I suggest you sever all ties with your Marketing strategists.


Ps. I have aspergers.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Stop Press: new title

Following mixed responses to the previous title, the new question is: Would you buy a book called

The Survival Paradox

What makes the threat of Global Climate Change the greatest opportunity ever presented to the human race?

The Survival Paradox is a two-dimensional tension: the needs of the individual versus the needs of the group, and the best solution in the moment versus the best solution in the long-term. In short, The Survival Paradox is: 'me, now' versus 'all of us, in the future'.

I'm working with the book's originator today. He is over in the UK about to go on holiday, and we've just done a scary restructuring exercise. It feels absolutely positive but also reminds me of the process of moving a large, semi-complete lego construction from the dining table as a child. I sort of know that if I'm careful enough and steady enough then it will be fine but it feels hazardous all the same. 

What if I drop it?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Words and pictures

44,000 / 80,000 words done in the Global Climate Change book. At points it has been more, but these feel like 44,000 good words. It's quick now. I think and think but when I write it's rapid. 1500 words an hour at top speed. 

The neuroscience stuff I've been learning has really helped. It feels solid now. Like a book made of triangles.

Speaking of books made of triangles, the textbook-publishing-people loved my idea for my 'audition chapter' for the-best-book-about-triangles-ever-written. They actually said LOVE. In capitals. I had presented one main idea and two backups. They said 'don't worry about the backup ideas, the first idea is PERFECT.' In capitals.

Isn't that lovely?

This company has a great track record for best sellers. When I was nine I had a wonderful teacher called Mr Long. He was a hippy. He had long hair and a beard and he sat at his desk strumming on his guitar all day. He had time for every one of us. It was before the national curriculum, in the days when learning didn't mean ticking boxes. He taught us in small groups, according to our interests and strengths. Mr Long taught me and two other children all about triangles. Sin and Cos and Tan and Pythagorus. He told my parents that one day I would be a writer. 

I am rather taken with the idea of writing a best seller about triangles.

I would dedicate it to Mr Long.