Walk 2 Report

An update on the walk that we went on (quite a while ago I’m afraid) which I’ve only just had time to upload photos for!

We had a lovely walk on bonfire night from Mountsorrel to Frisby-on-the-Wreake. It was one of those crisp autumn days where we were racing the sunset toward the end, but it ended up being an impressively gorgeous day with sunshine and not too much mud!

Thanks very much to Tim, Nat and Tyr for joining me!

Some highlights:

  • long shadows
  • a delicious, cheap pub lunch at the Horse and Groom in Rearsby where the chef dug out some food just for us after a busy night before… delicious gammon steaks and other things!
  • the sounds of fireworks as we came home
  • the delicious gin cocktails at the Bell in Frisby while we waited for our cab
  • water birds on the Cossington Meadows
  • little birds in hedges
  • autumnal leaves
  • Hoby rising from the late afternoon mists
  • old bridges
  • stiles – by the end our hips were not really up to them!
  • water mills that were also people’s homes! (with the walk going through their front garden)

Walk 1 Report

Today we had a lovely walk from Newtown Linford to Mountsorrel. Thanks to Kelli, Amy, Tim and Nat for joining me!

I’ve embedded a map with the walk route we took (I was a bit slow to start the runkeeper app so it missed a bit off the beginning) but we did a solid 9.5 miles and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Some highlights:

  • deer!
  • corn fields taller than us, giving the Stephen King experience
  • scary sounds that turned out to be a steam train
  • dream house on the edge of Swithland Reservoir
  • mysterious Victorian water gardens
  • sunken paths and ancient oaks
  • glorious weather (apart form an initial shower, just to remind us not to take the weather for granted!)

The next walk will be in October after I return from Australia. Hope you can join me!

Please donate to LOROS to support these walks here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/liedra 

 

Leicestershire Round Walks for LOROS

Because a couple of friends of mine (and their families) have been very well treated by LOROS in their end-of-life stages dealing with cancer, I have decided to raise money for LOROS by giving myself a challenge – to walk the 102 mile Leicestershire Round.

theRoute

I am inviting those who wish to join me to do so – these will be walks of no more than 15 miles around the countryside of Leicestershire. Dates and times will be advertised here. As these are not circular walks, I will be arranging public transport/offers of lifts. Please let me know if you plan to come along – so we know to wait for you/pick you up.

If you can’t make it but would like to donate, please do so at my Justgiving page.

Saturday 13th August: Walk 1, Newtown Linford to Mountsorrel (8 1/2 miles; 13.7km, around 4-5 hrs with lunch on the way at a pub in Woodhouse Eaves). Catching the 09:13 120 bus from St Margaret’s Bus Station arriving at 09:35. Return bus 126 from Mountsorrel goes frequently.

Walk details are available here.

The next walks will be in October – more details to come in September.

 

Peer assessment in teaching

This year I implemented a bunch of new things in my “Introduction to Research and Ethics” module, including peer assessment. I hadn’t done it before so was a little nervous about it, but it worked out really well. There’s a great write-up that my faculty’s CELT officer wrote with me about the process available here.

I was particularly chuffed at being mentioned in the minutes from the assessment board – it’s not often that particular lecturers get mentioned and commended by name by the external examiner!

I plan to put together a portfolio for an internal teacher fellowship application this year – so wish me luck!

If you’re one of my incoming second years – you have this to look forward to! If you went through it last year, you’ll be pleased to know that I’ve learned a lot from your experience and appreciate your patience!

Learning history through Dungeons & Dragons

So I’ve been DMing a game of Dungeons and Dragons regularly for a few weeks now. It’s not my first game, but it’s certainly my most complex. It’s the first where I’ve built the world up fully myself and set up the encounters and so on throughout the game.

The setting is, basically, “ancient Yorubaland” (the quotes implying that it is in no way historically accurate), where people from Oyo and surrounds have been suddenly threatened by strange enemies that appear from nowhere and take captives away (or kill them if they resist). Fairly standard stuff. In this game there are desert elves, jungle elves, “high” elves, humans, and old, wise warthogs. My group had been wanting to ditch the European medieval fantasy tropes so it was a good opportunity to learn a bit about ancient Nigeria, and let me tell you, the Yoruba freakin’ kicked arse. At basically everything, but especially cavalry warfare. They also have pretty awesome gods (orisha), which is always important in a D&D setting. You can read quite a lot on the Oyo empire here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oyo_Empire

The enemies, however, come from far away, via the Ethereal plane through portals. They are yuan-ti that hail from, basically, Tenochtitlan, which have been fighting the elvish city-states to the north (Cholula, Huejotzingo, Tlaxcala) in a highly ritualised forever-war aimed at providing the yuan-ti with sacrifices for their god.

This war is basically [SPOILERS TO MY D&D GROUP – DON’T READ THIS LINK] the Flower War which I had never heard of before and which is pretty amazing. It’s also happening at the eve of Iberian dwarves arriving to, uh, well, trade or something with the local people. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there… 😉

So basically I have been learning a boatload about historical areas I never knew much about, for a D&D game in which I mispronounce just about everyone’s and everything’s name. So my lesson for you is: go play D&D and learn about cool historical stuff!


 

Image is of the Great Pyramid at Cholula: “Teocalli vid Cholula, Nordisk familjebok bd 4” by Nordisk familjebok, Vol 4. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Teocalli_vid_Cholula,_Nordisk_familjebok_bd_4.png#mediaviewer/File:Teocalli_vid_Cholula,_Nordisk_familjebok_bd_4.png

Today I turned off Facebook.

Since 2007 I’ve been on Facebook. That’s around 8 years. I had around 300 “friends” and I enjoyed some of the long discussions I’d have with people on there. However, it’s just not worth the privacy cost any more. Facebook has been slowly eroding my privacy over these last 8 years, and I’ve finally realised that it’s too much for me. There wasn’t any particular thing that pushed me, but Sal’s post here reminded me what Facebook (and other companies’) goals are, and about the underhanded ways in which they repeatedly change their privacy policies to achieve those goals.

I’m resigned to my lack of privacy with my mobile phone/laptop/tablet company (Apple) but at least they just want to sell me cool tech. I’m resigned to my lack of privacy with Google, but that’s basically because it’s Google and there’s not much you can really do about it these days. (Not that I’m saying it’s good, but that “unplugging” from Google is a mammoth task that currently isn’t quite worth it for me given the usefulness of their stuff.)

Facebook, however, is something I can live without. If you’re here because you’re wondering where I’ve gone, I’m on twitter @liedra (yes, they’re not exactly angels either, but I know where I stand with Twitter – everything is not private!) and on Google Plus (as my full name). I realise this will likely make planning some things annoying for my friends who like to use Facebook events. I am sorry. I’d still like to come! Email me (liedra at this domain) instead – it comes straight to my phone. Or you can text me. Ask for my phone number. Thanks for understanding.

Hopefully I’ve made you think about your own privacy cost. Is what Facebook is doing worth it for you? I’d hope that the fact an ethicist is leaving Facebook means something to you. But don’t take my word for it, just think about it for yourself. You likely already know that it’s a problem, but have avoided thinking about it, much like I have over the past 8 years.

The picture above has been my profile background picture for almost a year. I still love it. You’ll probably find pictures like that here in future. Or on Google Plus. Or on Twitter. 🙂

Future Research Leaders

I was lucky to be chosen this year for the DMU Future Research Leaders scheme as one of 12 from a pool of 40 candidates. Today was the first session where the programme was outlined and we all introduced ourselves. I think this will be really good for me for a few reasons:

  1. I’m at a stage in my career where I have a permanent job so I need to strategise and work out where I want to be and what I want to do with myself.
  2. I’m not very good at the above as I’ve always really done other people’s research (apart from my PhD). So I need to work out how to pitch myself and carve out a niche.
  3. I need to learn how to deal with my career around potential career breaks, and how to juggle things once I’m back.
  4. I really really love interdisciplinary stuff and want to keep doing it, but also want to be REF-able in order to keep the higher ups happy with giving me research time. This’ll help me work out where to pitch what I do better.
  5. I probably want to be a prof one day, so it’d be nice to work out how to do that.


There’s an external guy who’s an ex-PVC and who’s run a department for a while and research groups and who’s seen it all running the programme and we basically chat once a month and get some one-on-one time 3 times a year, and to top it all off I get £2000 to go and do some awesome research with some awesome people.

The best bit is that unlike many of these things where I’m often the only woman at them, 11 out of the 12 people on this programme are women. How awesome is that?! Apparently it was completely not engineered; these were just the best candidates. And by the sounds of things they are all very interesting and dedicated people, many of whom have dealt with or are dealing with some of the issues I listed above. So yeah, I’m super excited about the whole thing!

As part of the exercises for the programme we will need to write up little responses to the monthly prompts. I will share some of them here because I think it’s useful to be able to reflect on them later and also to get some other input from people who are also interested in these issues.

Picture by Robert Donovan

ANZAC biscuits

Straight from my mum’s recipe folder – this is an oldie but a goodie (and 1 day too late for Australia Day…) If you don’t have golden syrup, you could try maple syrup or honey.

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup caster sugar
¾ cup desiccated coconut
125g butter (salted)
2 tablespoon golden syrup
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon boiling water

Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut.
Combine butter and golden syrup, stir over gentle heat until melted.
Mix soda with boiling water and add to melted butter mixture, stir into the dry ingredients. The mixture should not be too moist, but if you need more moisture, add a little more water.

Place tablespoons of mixture on lightly greased oven trays; allow room for spreading. Flatten a little with your fingers.

Cook in a slow 160 deg C oven for 20 mins. Loosen while warm then cool on tray.

 

On the shoulders of giants

This article originally appeared on medium.com

This is a reasonably quick tutorial on a new workflow that I have been wanting to perfect. The aims of my workflow are as follows:

  1. To be able to future-proof my writing.
  2. To be able to easily access all the things that I know other people know about stuff.
  3. To be able to easily reference the things I need.
  4. To be able to access all this information from anywhere on any platform.
  5. To be able to export my data in case Something Happens.
  6. To be able to do it all preferably for free.

The motivation from this came from observing my head of department and how he works. 20-something years ago he wrote himself a database front end into which he painstakingly copied and pasted quotes and categorised them. He is becoming increasingly frustrated by the program because it’s stuck in the 90s but he can’t escape it now because it’s so useful. I wanted to be able to recreate it with all the amazing tools that academics use these days but nothing quite seemed to be able to do it all at once. My mistake was that I wanted a feature of Qiqqa (which is free but Windows-only) whereby you could tag quotes within PDFs. The mistake was that I tried so hard for so long to look for PDF-annotation tools that fit in with reference managers… I didn’t want to have to import PDFs twice. Nothing (other than Qiqqa) really managed it. And Qiqqa’s tablet support is apparently a bit rubbish.

So one day I had an epiphany. And this is the result of it.

Tools you need

  1. Zotero, Mendeley, or another reference manager. The main features you want from this is to be able to do inline citation in Word, and to be able to export a single reference as some sort of unique identifier so you can find it again easily (I use a full citation in Harvard style).
  2. Evernote
  3. A multiple clipboard buffer app. I use Flycut on Mac OS X. You can find it in the app store. There are lots there for Windows but I haven’t quite found the best one yet. Will update when I do.
  4. Microsoft Word (this is the one exception to my “free” thing, as I have it already and you probably do too if you’re an academic).

Procedure

  1. I make a notebook in Evernote for a particular area that I research. The one I’ll be using here is called “Video Games”.
  2. I find some journal papers or books or whatever I want to read for my research.
  3. I import them into Zotero in the usual way (I’m not going to give a tutorial on Zotero — there are plenty out there).
  4. Now I’m going to read them. As I read, I copy into my multiple buffers (using cmd/ctrl-C) the quotes I’m interested in.
  5. Once I’m done reading/copying, I go to Zotero and export as bibliography entry the paper I’ve just read. To do this you right click the paper from the main pane in Zotero, and “Create Bibliography from Item…” I choose Output Mode to be Bibliography and Output Method to be Copy to Clipboard. This basically puts the citation in my clipboard buffer.
  6. I open the notebook I created in Evernote and open a new note. I paste in the citation as the title, and then one of the quotes from my buffer.
  7. I tag the quote with whatever tags I feel appropriate. For example, I’ve been writing about “male gaze” today. Here is a quote:

Become the male hero. Help the female hero. That’s what the male gaze does to videogames.

This quote has the tags: male gaze, sexism, story development

8. Continue on with the rest of the quotes as with steps 6 & 7.

9. When I come to write the paper, I can now search for tags that include whatever I am writing about, e.g. “male gaze”. Voila! A whole load of quotes that I can then easily write about, copy & paste, etc. into Word and easily cite using my reference manager.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 16.29.15

The best bit is that it stops me doing what I have done in the past — i.e. read old papers and just rewrite the bits for background where I’ve written about it before. It saves me printing out reams of paper only for the paper to be read once and forgotten about. It also allows me to keep up to date in the subject area because I’m constantly adding new papers with new tags. I’m hoping it’ll allow me to build up a corpus of knowledge about my field, so that when someone says “hey Catherine, tell me all about the male gaze in video games” I’ll have a boatload of stuff ready to show them. ☺

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 22.57.38

Hope that helps. Any questions or suggestions, hit me up!

liedra.net revision circa 2014

It’s almost 15 years since I first bought the domain name liedra.net. I started out with the site full of terrible poetry and homages to Nick Cave. It then went on to host my first ever blog, which I wrote in terribly insecure PHP3 and a MySQL database with an empty root password. The internet was a lot more naive back then. I recall being impressed with sites that had image link maps or whatever they were called and had one of those for a bit. I ran an early version of WordPress for a while, but that was terribly buggy and insecure. It’s still probably terribly buggy and insecure but at least it’s being cared for a lot better than it was back then. I had several rounds of custom written photo gallery applications before I realised that I just didn’t have the stamina to keep up with regular updates. I failed miserably at blogging once I had a real job and real responsibilities.

So here we are again. Round … well I’ve lost count now. 6? 7? 10? Probably not as many revisions as waferbaby but then I don’t have that sort of fanbase either. I strongly suspect only my mum and dad will read this. And probably random students who’ve come here via the SoDIS helper or Peermark systems I also run on this server. Hi! You’re pretty smart. Do well in my classes, ok?

Who knows what I’ll use this for, but we’ll see. I have vague plans of at least collecting all my non-paper academic writing in one place, so here’s as good a place as any to do so. See you all some time!