Sunday, 18 March 2018

On what I have been doing, having a resemblance to Gordon Freeman, teaching and research.

I don’t seem to update this blog as often as I would have like. The last time we spoke, I had a little bit of a rant about the press and I promiced to talk about mental health in this post…I might not dedicate as much of this post to that, as my past self would have hoped.

The last time we spoke, I was a free man….I wasn’t a student. I’m nearing the end of my Access to HE course focusing on Social Science at MKCollege. On this course I study Psychology, Sociology, Social Policy and Health Studies. It’s a lot of fun I must say, a little stressful and I have learnt a lot about by myself. 

I have quite a few stories from the course that all deserve their own posts.

This course will lead to myself studying Psychology at University in September. I’ve accepted my place at Northampton University. – I’ve met a few of my future classmates online and they seem like a completely mad and wonderful bunch. I think the next three years are going to be magical.

Elsewhere in my life, I have been getting healthier and fitter. Its wasn’t easy at the start but the rewards have so far, outweighed the early moaning, groaning, pain and struggling.  I’m getting more energy, and I’m starting to gain a nice body and feel pretty good about it…I’m liking this and I would highly recommend this course of action.

I now don't look like I'm Gordon Freeman and more like I'm a 25 year aspiring lecturer who is getting fitter. Before and after below.

When we last spoke, I was a care worker. I’ve since had a change of career and now I’m a Maths tutor (note the use of the word “tutor” and not “Teacher.” I’ll explain that bit in a moment.) I love this job so much. I get to go to different schools and meet new people and I love my job. I have a series of after school “clubs” that I teach to Key Stage One and Two (age 5 to 11) and we cover everything from data and averages, to clever little tricks that you can use to square numbers without a calculator. It’s a neat little trick that I love bringing out when I’m with friends. Showing off is fun.

The tutor bit is simple. While I am teaching maths to kids. I’m not a fully qualified teacher (yet.) I’m just delivering the material as a tutor. It’s part of the reason while I want to go to University.

Those of you who have been paying attention would be thinking, “but Tommy…you’re going to study Psychology…not Maths”

Yes, I am. The reason for this is that my goal is to become a lecturer of Psychology at University. Obviously studying Psychology is the first step.

I do however enjoy maths and I suspect that I may be one of the few people in the world who will enjoy statistics.

This is a really nice positive post so I will leave my mental health development for another day, but I will share a great moment. For Heath Studies. We were tasked with creating a health promotion campaign. I chose to do my campaign on Autism because its a subject that I know a lot about but it is also a condition that I have a lot of emotional investment in.

But...A campaign to raise awareness...How would I do that? Any form of graphic design was out of the question. My art and design skills are somewhat lacking. I don't have experience with any other promotional campaign. 

I was at a loss but then I re-read the assignment brief. 

"You are a health or social care professional and have been asked by your employers to create and run a health promotion campaign to increase public awareness of a disease, illness or lifestyle choice. Using the tasks below:"

It took a few moments for my brain to click into gear before I had a thought process that went something like; 

  1. I used to be a care worker (heath or social care professional)
  2. I would always go into training
  3. I want to be a lecturer in the future, I'm a teacher now
  4. I could combine teaching and the campaign.
And as it was thought, so it became. I created a lecture, and then presented it. To a whole group of business students. It was a never racking experience before I went in, but the second that I entered the room, it was show-time. I aced it and I had so much lovley feedback in the end.

I know the nerves came from the fact that this was the first time that I presented something educational that was also my own creation.

I also made a meme just for the lecture:
There has to be something said for the feeling that one has when they not only include a meme in their report, but go further to add it to the appendix and cite it to justify its use.
One final thing, and this does require a really small bit of audience participation. Would you be kind enough to fill out this google doc for my research project. I’m looking at the welfare state and what people think about it. How is the government doing? What is and isn’t being done to help people and is everyone treated fairly?

I will share the entire research project when it is done and has been graded. That will be sometime in the future, after I have finished my course.

This post has got me thinking about more blog posts.

Monday, 19 June 2017

On The Throne and The Press

You know…with the rise of smartphones/tablets, our productivity as a people has gone through the roof. We can communicate over great distances instantly. We can share reports and media with each other at the tap of a button, and we can write blog posts while on the loo. 

Hello there… 

I swear I do my best work on the porcelain throne. I get ideas down, multiple paragraphs bashed out and talking to friends, I'm not the only one. 

This got me thinking…why? 

My conclusion is that it is peaceful…we all lead hectic lifestyles. As a care worker, I do long shifts dashing from here to Timbuktu, providing care for people in their own homes. Other people are constantly under pressure to meet targets and churn out work at an alarming rate. 

The porcelain throne offers a sanctuary from that…it offers a place where no one can touch you. Where it is acceptable to ignore your boss and your colleagues, and to. To be alone, with your own thoughts. Offering the mind a creative time for our minds to flex their muscles. 

But I digress. 

I wanted to about uni...a little while back  where, I talked about what options I have and whether should I take a of those options was multimedia journalism. In the post I wrote the following: 

"an old love that turned into a loath…I know I’m good at journalism, but I left the career because I was fed up with cheap second rate, copy and paste articles getting all the ad revenue, when well written and relevant pieces were left by the way side. – must not turn this into a rant. I certainly find this interesting, and while it could be useful. I don’t see myself going down that route, and worry that I’d just be repeating what I leaned on the field". 

So I wondered why I wrote that...and why I am so angry at a field I used to love. I couldn't place my finger on it until I saw these two tabloids in the supermarket 

It clicked...this one photo was all the anger I was feeling towards the media after leaving the field was summed up between this pure an utter shouting match between the two papers. Gone are the idealist days that I used to yearn and beg for when I was a journalist. 

Now all I see is sensational headlines being thrown out in a bid for adverting revenue and sales. 
But I do suppose part of the problem why I don't like the idea of being a journalist anymore was that I did not want to be a part of that some ways, I was a rebel...a very idealistic rebel. 

I wanted to fight for the downtrodden and the underdog...I wanted to tell the stories of real life heroes and bring to justices those who take advantage of the people. I saw myself as a reporter for the people...Someone to stand up to the big scary CEO's and hold MP's accountable. I love that image of me...Its so romantic and lovely...the kind of imagine that I can imagine a Marvel comic is wrote about...though I blame the Sarah Jane Adventures for this...god she was epic. 

Then I see the ugly...I'm not a fan. 

I knew it though...It was my driving force way-back-when and most likely the reason why I ran out of steam...I was an unbearable twenty year old trying to stick it to the establishment...god they were good times. 
I'm not bitter though as I did enjoy it. 

But do I want to go back into that world? 

I'm not entirely sure. 

Next time I think I'll talk about mental health. XD 


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Family In Costa and Our Princess Lexa

Right now, I'm in Costa with Jon, we're sat here waiting for Lexa to finish being pampered at the groomers... She's our baby girl, and she needs to be treated like a princess. She has just come out of season, and has clearly been quite uncomfortable so she deserves to have a lot of pampering

They've refurbished this branch of Costa next to M&S for what seems to be the 15th time this year. It's a lot brighter then costa's normal signature look. They are making as much use of the open space as possible, with quite a few small tables with a chair either side as well as a few larger round tables and a couple of half booths. 

I'm sat in one of these half booths next to my boyfriend who is more interested in Yu-Gi-Oh duel links than the family from East Asia directly opposite. I'm not sure whereabouts they are from. If I was a bit braver I would ask and maybe even learn something about their home. 

Jon doesn’t give two shits that I'm writing about him. 


See, nothing. 

The Asian family are all sat around one round table, next to the window. Dangling above the table are three seeming unnecessary light bulbs surrounded by a yellow bottomless cage. 

Just from watching them for about 15 minutes, I can already see the family dynamic. 

First is the head of this unit, perhaps the father or the uncle. He's wearing a dark green checkered shirt covered with a very thin blazer. He has not smiled once and his hair is abandoning him, but you can see the love he has for his family.  

I noted the behaviour of the father as he was waiting; I could see how excited he was, even though he was trying to maintain a reserved demeanour. As soon as he heard his family coming up the stairs, he stood up and his face, in just little ways, lit up.  

He listened carefully to each member and nods along and shows just the right amount of care when wiping the toddlers mouth. I unfortunately cannot speak their language but it is lovely to listen to... It just bounces around like a tennis match.  

The view from when they left...If they were any closer I could have touched them
Sat to his right is the son. He looks to be in his 20's at least... the family resemblance is striking, but he has much more hair. He's very excited, but still trying not to show it...he came up carrying the drinks and did lead the majority of the conversation... unlike the woman sat next to him...I'm going to presume that this is the girlfriend. 
I come to this conclusion because I do note that the family was dressed in slightly smarter clothes, like the range Next or M&S sell, while she was wearing a hoodie and trackie that didn't quite hold up in terms of cost. She was also a little more submissive, compared the sister sat next to her (seriously, that family resebemansce.) Its interesting to see, that even though she was submissive, it was in a very respectful way, rather then forced.  
The sister looked, and dressed, as if she was about to take over the country. She held herself as if she already has. She did appear to dominate most of the conversation 
The final member of the family was the toddler who really didn't give a shit and was more interested in his yoghurt. 
Jon has started writing now... I took this photo of him and me... He looks as if he is about to kill someone. XD.
Last thing...a few hours later...Lexa is back home; trimmed, dopey, and smelling lovely. 

Monday, 5 June 2017

A short update

Just a short post today As I write this. I am currently with my boyfriend watching him play Star Trek Online (STO for the first time…Surprise surprise…he’s playing as the campiest Romulan he can possibly create…He’s certainly enjoying the character creation mode.

I’ve not really got a huge amount to talk about if I am entirely honest…I don’t really want to talk about my work as a career, not because I have nothing to say, but rather, it will just save a lot of bother with regards to conforming to company policy on social media. I don’t need to level of shit that one mis-worded sentence or throw away comment can cause
I did service my car over the weekend…I then broke something on my car…fortunately its not expensive and cost £4 to replace.

With regards to my previous post in which I talked about the choices that I have at university, I am still undecided as to what to minor in.

I do want to talk about my father, but that will require a huge post.

I have to say that STO on the PS4 is really quite pretty…I need to build a new computer soon.
Perhaps I could write about random episodes of Star Trek, analyse them, talk about what story they tell and the interactions between the characters.

After working out the name of his first ship, Jon is telling me about Mass Effect 2 and a Quarians  ship name The Qwib Qwib…I have a new name for my Defiant class now XD

Thursday, 1 June 2017

On dyslexia, university open days, and the awkwardness of having to answer how hot a woman is when you're gay.

There are fewer greater ironies then a writer with dyslexia.

Further to that point, who is the cruel bastard that decided that dyslexia should be spelt “D-Y-S-L-E-X-I-A.” Did he/she have a unique person level of masochism that only affects a specific group of the population? Does this person get off – in some weirdly perverted way- from knowing that there are guys and girls like me all around the world that struggle with spelling, grammar and keeping sentences in one fucking place (I describe mine as herding cats; they go wherever the goddamn hell they please but will eventually sleep in a warm place), or keeping an sentence together?

Because he or she has fucked us all over, with that spelling......I swear, anyone with dyslexia has memorised that word for the one moment we have to write about it on a form.

Though…I must say I’m more of stealthy one, I can get by. I can read a new form or page. I just let the cats settle down. If someone asks if I’m doing alright, I just say, “yes…..just one more moment.”
Then I would go on some made up story of how when I was in school, I had an English teacher who used to be a lawyer and taught us to read everything carefully…this was so drilled into me, that it’s become a habit for me, “I hope you don’t mind.” Often this ends with a toothy grin delivered  by me, and an equally toothy grin passed back to me…I see in the other persons eyes, a certain unique fear that only manifests itself when people see my mouth open wide…they never know if they should call the police or National Geographic.

Side-side note…when is “the” capitalised and how far north does one have to go before it disappears from the English language?

But, back to the main point. University.

So, as you know, I’ve every intention of becoming the next Derren Brown, just more northern and less charming, and one of the ways I will be achieving this monumental feat is by studying Psychology (the continuing irony dyslexia provides for my life will often manifest itself in an inability to spell a subject that I feel very passionate about and want to study at a University level.
To help me work out where I’m going, I’ve attend a number of open days, a wise course of action.
In time, you will learn that these are quite rare. 

Last week, I went to Northampton Uni open day.  Which I must say was a blast, I was really happy with what I learnt when I visited and found the campus to be quite beautiful. It was also a help having Jon with me as this was where he studied a few years back.

So we had a look around, Jon pointing out a few of the buildings, what they were for and having a happy reminisces over them. It was lovely, and later, we proceeded to scheduled tester session for Psychology.

Of course, in typical Thunder fashion, not only did we get slightly lost, but we were also the first ones there. I must say, that’s a very rare combination for someone.

I am the only person that can arrive early and get lost at the same time.

At the session, we first met Steven Kilpatrick, a man who gained my respect instantly by colour coordinating his jumper, exactly, to the yellow colour scheme of Northampton and more so, to the yellow power point that was ready to go.

This respect only grew, when he descried to fuck with those who were arriving after us, by asking if they were here for some completely different subject, and then taking an internal jump of glee when they stopped dead in their tracks and questioned their entire existence.

“Are you here for Nursing…Computer Programming…Biochemical Engineering?.”

The hilarity continued when I realised, that at the tender lamb like age of 24, that I was one of the oldest in the room.

There were a few parents but aside from them…I could have adopted them all as my children and have the start of a slave army.

I’m sure noone would mind.

The required level of politeness was exchanged and we talked briefly about psychology and what brought us here…who had the longest journey…who nearly didn’t make it, and so much more small talk that Phillip Schofield would be proud.

Moving on the content of the session, it came in three parts.

The first part was an introduction the department and the University, Steven, and a second tutor, Alistair talked about how they first got into psychology, how they got into the position they are in now, and projects they are, or have worked on.

The second and third part required the main group to be spilt into two. One half went with Alistair to do his part of the talk, and myself and Jon stayed with the rest.

Steven then talked about the course and what each unit will look like and that the option of taking joint honours and still being able BPS accreditation, this has slammed open a tonne of doors for me and I will talk more about his later on in the document.

He then moved on to talk about attraction, and to illustrate a section of psychology that looks at our behaviour from an evolutionary point of view. Steven show us two photos of two different men and asked the women in the room to pick which on they found attractive. With both examples, they went for the slightly older, more alpha looking male, then the younger baby face one.

To further run that point home, Steven also showed use two photos of David Beckham. One from when he was in his late teens, and one from very recently. They all agreed that he looked a lot better now.

He then moved on to showing us two pictures of woman and asked the guys in the room, which one they would find more attractive.

They answered, and pretty much most of them went for the younger more fertile female. He then asked me what I thought as I didn’t vote in that round. I leaned back my chair, crossed my legs and looked him straight in the eye

“This is slightly awkward, I’m terribly sorry about this, but I’m gay.” 

The entire room burst in the a gut wrenching laughter, that’s only seen when bankers fuck a load of people over to make more money, or when equally undesirable gentleman share champagne over their latest plan of world domination.

Steven looked rather shocked and mortified…I tried to reassure him that all was fine, but my efforts were lost of the roar of the would be Sigmund Freud.

I let myself giggle a bit and then came out with the comment that the younger woman on the left looked as if she’d sucked a lemon.

As the laughter died down, I then shared an observation that I had made in which, some women of a younger age would prefer the baby face example as this can help to kick in a certain amount of mothering instincts and is also part of the reason why record labels and media use younger guys to help sell records. I just need to point you in the direction of Justin Bieber concert to illustrate my point.

Instead of shooting me down, or telling me I’m wrong or cussing at me for running his plan to take over the world, Steven said that my point was valid and the bringing another perspective to this discussion is what psychology is all about. There are very few wrong answers as this subject is more about understanding and interpreting what we have observed.

The final part saw us swap rooms and swap tutors. Alistair lead this one and began talking about amputees and how some have experienced, what they can only describe as “phantom limbs” and he then went on to talk about therians describing how they feel as if they are part animal in spirt and then, how this got people thinking about the brain processes input and how we can fool the brain in to thinking something is there, or not there, and then using this to start development of different technologies, one of which is to find a way for surgeons to remotely operate on someone in space.
To do this, he showed us the Rubber Hand experiment (read illusion) in which the brain can be fooled into thinking that the rubber hand that they can see is their real hand.  The following video can explain it far better than I can.

And you may ask, dear Tommy boy. 

What does psychology have to do with making technology? 

After all, tech is a bunch of wires and ones and zero. The answer is that by looking at how the brain processes input, we may be able to find ways to have this tech provide tactile feedback to surgeon and at the same time be able to have the equipment move, as if it was the surgeons real hand, in such a way, that it would be like they were there, next to their patent and not on the ground. 

This is what I love, working shit out, making links between two separate things and bringing different disciplines together to make something amazing.

I talked afterwards to Alistair, who helped me to process what we talked about, but also talk about our options at Uni and to the fact that I now know that I can do a joint honours. I had grown accustomed to only doing Psychology, or the ever so popular Psychology, Counselling and Therapies.

In fact, I grew so accustomed to this fact that I never even looked into studying something else alongside. 

This, has given me a lot to consider. I did some considering over a big lunch and I’ve worked out a shortlist of subjects that I am interested in:

Education Studies – This could be useful, should I chose to go into teaching. Though I ask myself, while I entertain the idea of me being some kind of college or uni lecturer at some point in the future, it it what I want to focus my career on.

English – I love writing and I love reading, so you would think that this is a perfect choice for me, but I have two worries. The first, is it going to be useful to me and the second, is my dyslexia going to get in the way?

Media Production and Moving Image – This seems interesting, and certainly one of the more “out there” subjects. I did speak to friend who did that course, and he didn’t give it a great review. I ask myself, how much interest will I have in it, and how useful will it be to me. 

Drama – My very first love, and the only thing at GCSE that I got an A in, and what I originally studied at college. I do generally enjoy drama, and I loved being on the stage. It is certainly something that I can a lot of common ground in between the two disciplines and there is no doubt that I will enjoy it. But again, how useful will it be to me?

Heath Studies – Probably the most relevant and useful to me at this moment in time, given my occupation as a care worker and interest in caring for people. But is care what I want to be doing in ten year’s time and how much interest will I have when I study it.

Sociology – This one is interesting and ties in so close to psychology, you’d think they were brothers. It is certainly interesting and it could be useful in my career. I will need do more research on it.

Criminology – Another interesting one and very useful to have for my career. It also seems to go hand in hand with psychology and could lead me down some interesting routes.

Multimedia Journalism – an old love that turned into a loath…I know I’m good at journalism, but I left the career because I was fed up with cheap second rate, copy and paste articles getting all the ad revenue, when well written and relevant pieces were left by the way side. – must not turn this into a rant. I certainly find this interesting, and while it could be useful. I don’t see myself going down that route, and worry that I’d just be repeating what I leaned on the field.

Social Care – like Heath Care, this can be useful, but again, how much interest do I have?…More research is needed for this as well.

I’m most certainly going back to other open days to learn more about these subjects and help consider my options.