Posts Tagged ‘Braille’

Ridiculous Avoidance

Friday, 7 November 2008

Still no camera charger, so I can’t show you the handbag I’m making, or the matching corsage (both from Erika Knight’s Essential Crochet, seeing as my flatmate gave me the book and the yarn – both deep purple! – at the same time. to put on my coat when I go out with it. I’m really quite happy with both, although there is some finishing up to do. I’ve bought lining material for the bag, and a friend has offered to sew it all up, so I basically need to decide what to do about a handle for it, and attach a safety pin to the corsage. I did the large size of the pattern for the latter, with a chunky wook (instead of crochet cotton!) so it will perhaps make more of a statement than I meant it to, but I think the pair of items are going to use the two skeins I was given quite well.

There are no visiting teddies here just at the moment, which gives me a few days to sort out charging the camera…

In the meantime, I have been reading a decent amount, although I’m still a couple of weeks behind the book-per-day aim.

276. Foul Play by Tom Palmer

Football fan and wannabe detective who doesn’t mind skipping school for a good clue to the current mystery, Danny is basically a good kid who squabbles with his older sister but gets on well with his father. He gets a bit too personally involved with the strange events happening at the local football stadium one night, however…

This book is absolutely calculated to appeal to reluctant boy readers, but it’s not bad for all that!

277. Akiva by Rabbi Meir Marcus Lehmann

I said a bit about this book last week, in comparing it to And Rachel Was His Wife. I think the main thing I’d add is that the latter is character driven, while this has imparting information and a point of view as its objective. It’s very good for all that.

278. Artist Trading Cards by Leonie Pujol

Maybe when I finish the Masters I could take up ATCs…

279. Graphic Biographies: Martin Luther King Jr by Gary Jeffrey & Chris Forsey

Any other day [than Wednesday – the rest of this post has taken me awhile] I’d ignore the current Politics (with a big ‘P’ – I don’t think one ever can fully ignore small ‘p’ politics), and focus on the ones discussed in this and the following few books, but I think every (American, but not only) politician who mentions dreams in a speech knows their listeners will think of Martin Luther King Jr (and the ‘American Dream’ too), and I am pretty sure Barack Obama wouldn’t mind that today.

280. Graphic Biographies: Harriet Tubman by Rob Shone & Anita Ganeri

It’s rather longer since Harriet Tubman escaped slavery, and helped others both in the journey and the life after slavery. America has had a long struggle towards full equality of all its communities, as has every country out there. I’d be interested to know of some that have really got there, even if only in law. While the explicit (and legal) inequalities Tubman (and King, and Mandela) fought against are now much diminished and more subtle, in many ways that makes them harder to fix.

281. Graphic Biographies: Nelson Mandela by Rob Shone & Neil Reed

So, after all the politics, the series of books is a good one! The graphic story is well told and drawn, and each book has a couple of standard non-fiction style pages before and after it, to give context. I haven’t read the ones on entertainers, many of whose stories, like Mandela’s, have not come to an end yet.

282. Who Was Mary Seacole? by Paul Harrison

Seacole was a visionary front line nurse. More front-line than Florence Nightingale, and well known in her day.

Still wading through all the books to be discussed in this post by Friday, and today’s Sheldon tickled me. (Although it’s now got me thinking that I have no good excuse for not having finished the Braille Primer yet…)

283. Natural Disasters: Forest Fires by Laura Purdie Salas
284. Blazing Bush and Forest Fires by Louise and Richard Spilsbury

Yes, these two are on the same topic. Both are good, and I can’t decide which one to recommend over the other. The first tends to briefly tell the story of a particular memorable fire in history, and from there give facts, whereas the second gives information and then shows example pictures and tales, so it really depends which approach suits your purpose, taste or child.

285. You Wouldn’t Want To Be A Victorian Miner! by John Malam

Quite true, you wouldn’t, especially as a child! This is a most informative, well done series. It’s also reminded me of a film I saw (on television) as a child, but that I can’t find on IMDB. It was about a small mining village in England (or possibly Wales) where the mine was to be modernised, or closed, or something, and the pit ponies were to be killed rather than bringing them back above ground, I think. The local children get very upset about this, and after their protests get them nowhere they go through one of the old unused mine shafts (?) and kidnap the ponies. Being a children’s film it all ends happily, of course, with the ponies allowed a field to retire into. I can’t remember the title or other details, so if anyone has any ideas, I’d appreciate it.

286. I Wonder Why Volcanoes Blow Their Tops and other questions about natural disasters by Rosie Greenwood

The focus here (which surprised me) is not volcanoes, but natural disasters, but all are interestingly described, with bright clear pictures.

287. Waiting for Anya by Michael Morpurgo

My plan is to gradually read my way through Morpurgo’s canon, because he presents big historical (and other) issues in affecting and enthralling stories that children and adults like. This one is set in a French village on the Spanish border during WWII. The adult men went to fight and many are now prisoners of war, including Jo’s father, so the women, children and older or disabled men are getting on with looking after each other and the sheep without them. Apart from this absence the war has stayed away from the village for three years, until a unit of German soldiers is billeted upon them to guard the border, and Jo discovers there are more impacts than he realised.

288. Scarlett by Cathy Cassidy

So, Scarlett is a very troubled twelve-year old who has just been kicked out of her fifth school since her parents split up three years previously. People do seem to recognise that counselling might help, or have helped, but since they only ever threaten her with it (rather than offering it to her) that isn’t going to happen. After cycling through living with her mother, her grandmother, her uncle and her mother again, this city girl’s latest ‘last chance’ is to be sent to her father, his new wife and stepdaughter in a cottage in rural Ireland, and she doesn’t want to go.

289. My Special Brother by Rena Schiff

Far better than I thought it would be (I have to admit to letting the garish cover put me off over the years), this is the slightly fictionalised story of a 1960s Orthodox Jewish family in New York who buck the expectation that disabled babies will be left at the hospital to go straight into care, and bring their youngest son (who has Downs) home to be a beloved member of the family. Thankfully most of these explicit expectations have now been overcome, and there is ever more provision and support for children and adults with disabilities to receive extensive education and live as productive respected members of the community [although there is a lot more for us all to do] but this family worked their way through the prejudices and ignorance, and then allowed their story to be told to explain things to the rest of us. I’m making it sound very worthy – really it’s a good story too.

290. Just Between Friends by Sara Wiederblank

A definite relationships novel, this has four friends in their mid twenties dealing with how their expectations have either not been met, or have been met but still don’t entirely satisfy. One of those frustrating (but often frustratingly real) tales where the reader wants to just make the characters sit down and talk to their spouses or other loved ones!

291. Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age by Raymond Briggs

Fungus the Bogeyman remains my favourite Briggs protagonist, but this is amusing. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone who didn’t know a bit about the Stone Age already, as most of the story revolves around the anachronisms within our understanding of it.

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Lacking Pity

Monday, 28 July 2008

222. Miracle Ride by Tzipi Caton

I’ve read this cover to cover in a few short hours this evening, and feel like I’ve learnt something from it, although I hope I already knew not to be quite so pushy and/or judgemental as some of the people ‘Caton’ (the book is written under a pseudonym, with some names/details changed for privacy) is confronted by. (It’s a good thing I already hated both the word and the concept of ‘nebach‘. Completely unhelpful, in my opinion.)

This book is a rewritten version, including some later perspective, of her journal of the year from when she first noticed her lymph nodes were enlarged, aged just sixteen, through diagnosis (Hodgkin’s lymphoma), treatment, and trying to get back to normal life afterwards, but then discovering that she just isn’t quite the same person she was beforehand, and can’t do things in the same way, following the same track as her classmates. While their troubles and stresses for the most part still are the latest test by an unsympathetic teacher, she cannot fully relate while dealing with debilitating treatments, friends (of friends) dying, and the side-effects of powerful drugs. It’s a powerful tale, that has some strong lessons for the people around those going through life-testing situations, the Orthodox Jewish community in particular, and for those dealing with teenage girls in general. Baruch Hashem I amn’t qualified to judge its value for those actually going through such situations, but I don’t doubt it would have a high one.

Otherwise, it’s still hot (this weather was supposed to break days ago) and I’m still hardly crocheting. The Braille is progressing, however, and as I type and read words I keep semi-consciously working out which contractions they would include!

Niccolo Rising chapter three: Poor (unmarried) Katelina is going to regret repeating something she should never have been told…

Life Expectations

Sunday, 13 July 2008

So, another week about to begin. I’m taking a break from my Braille practice to write to you. I was mightily confusing myself on Friday by constantly switching back and forth between the Perkins Brailler and my laptop (which I had directly behind the Brailler), and trying to touch-type both of them almost at once. I managed, fairly well, but both were somewhat slowed down. I think it helps that fewer fingers are used on the Brailler, as it helped my fingers decide which was which!

201. Step-Up History: The Indus Valley Civilisation by Rhona Dick

The Indus Valley Civilisation flourished 4-6,000 years ago in an area around the border of modern-day India and Pakistan, but there is a lot that is unknown about it, and this presentation, aimed at children, is nice and clear for an uninformed adult as well.

202. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Books narrated by Death make me think of Terry Pratchett‘s Discworld character, but this book really isn’t so much like the few of Pratchett’s books I’ve read (the flatmate is more keen). Or perhaps it is, in some ways, but at the same time this has to be so much more serious, as set in the Germany of the 1940s in this world, and no other. I cried, but I did laugh, too, in some places, and I could accept the characters, in a setting more messed up for being real than any fiction.

203. My Life in My Hands by Alison Lapper with Guy Feldman

This is a very open and honest autobiography of a woman who is a prestigious enough artist in her own right to have received an MBE for services to art, and yet who is far better known as the subject of a controversial sculpture, and as a participant (with her son Parys) in the BBC‘s series Child of Our Time. This book is more about her life as a disabled woman than specifically as an artist, although since much of her art is to do with her body shape and people’s reaction to it, that is in no way ignored. I would heartily recommend this to those in art, disability, or just in biography in general.

Overly popular

Thursday, 15 May 2008

The popularity of the spool-knitting drop-in has not abated, and I’ve run out of tubes to rework into spools! I’ve put out a request at work for more (preferably in a variety of sizes), and put the girls’ names on the ones I’ve made already. I’m also taking more yarn along. I got to see some great completed projects today already, and thoughts of how to develop skills and new projects to use the technique for. Lessons in straight crochet are becoming more popular again too, which is great.

I got to do a bit more on the granny square blanket, but once involved in shopping for the new flat I simply didn’t have the hands available. In work I got to practice with the Brailler (I’m amused that the manual specifies that they are available in blue and green, when I got a grey one!), and I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m going back to redo all the exercises with it, but I think I’ll continue progressing on the graph paper, as I can (messily) do that on the bus.

I’m really happy at the moment, what with the new flat, its peace and the fun of doing it up, learning (Braille) and teaching (yarncraft) things I enjoy, reclaiming my social life, reading again, and getting compliments. I even got to 23,000 steps on my pedometer today. It’s fabulous!

Yarn Enabling

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Not only did I get to the knitting & crochet group this evening (yay!), I taught three kids to spool knit today, with one of them adding in beads already! I’ve shown them someone else’s striped project, and told them about other types of colour use, and they all went home with their spools and should be showing me how far they’ve got tomorrow or Friday. (They also asked me about other things that can be done with the crochet hooks they were lifting their loops with, and more kids asked about crafty skills too.)

Basically, one began looking at the Klutz Spool Knitting kit that was lying around, and I said I’d teach her, on the spool from the kit, and her friend asked to learn too, so I took off the elastic band project I began a few weeks ago so I could give her the spool I’d made then. And five or ten minutes after the third girl came in and asked to learn too, so she unwound some address labels from their cardboard tube, and then came back an hour or two later, after I’d made another spool for her.

I took some pictures as I went, so I could show you how I make these spools, which come out much stronger than any others I’ve made. Besides the tube, one needs about six large paperclips, which can be bent by hand against the table.
Creating a knitting spool 001

I use normal sticky tape to get the hooks in place.
Creating a knitting spool 002 Creating a knitting spool 003

And then cloth tape (for repairing books) to actually hold the paperclips in place.
Creating a knitting spool 004

Wind the cloth tape tightly around the clips and the tube. This makes for a good strong spool, as can be seen from my elastic band project (which did pull hard) that I took off the first of these spools I made. (The elastic cylinder is just about big enough to get my finger into.)
Creating a knitting spool 006

Beyond that fun, my Perkins Brailler arrived today, although I didn’t get to really look at it (hopefully I will tomorrow) and won’t get to show it to you, or even play with it much, until I can bring it home next week. I’m up to lesson 13 of the RNIB Braille Primer, working on graph paper, so hopefully I’ll be able to pick up the use of the machine quickly and keep progressing.

Plus two more books read. This has been a pretty good day!

122. Modern Peacemakers: Aung San Suu Kyi: Activist for Democracy in Myanmar by Judy L. Hasday

The current discussions of Burma (because of the trouble getting aid from outside into the country, let alone to the actual victims of the cyclone) inspired me to finally actually read this, and I’m glad I did, as I learned a lot about the Lady, as she is called in some chapters of this book, and the country she is from. I had known that Burma/Myanmar is a very (self-)isolated and brutal dictatorship, and that Aung San Suu Kyi, as leader of the opposition movement seeking democratic government in the country, has spent many years under house arrest, but I didn’t really know any more than that, so I was glad to learn more.

This series is about the recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, and gives lots of background about both the person and the situation they work(ed) in, and I’ve found all of them that I’ve read quite enthralling.

123. 100 Things You Should Know About Penguins by Camilla de la Bedoyere

I’ll get over all these series sometime soon, but they are very useful, and in many cases informative and interesting too. This looks to be a good one, with clear and cohesive numbered paragraphs that can be read either in order or at random. There is general information about penguins, but also plenty of space given to the varieties of them. I hadn’t realised there were quite so many, myself.

Quickly, quickly

Friday, 2 May 2008

Day 12 of the Omer.
The Secret Life of Cows

Shabbos is in an hour, my laptop is playing up, and I have burnt fingers, so this will be short. The bottom book in the picture is the one I finished rereading today, which is just lovely, and very interesting indeed. Beside it is my completed exercise 4 and the Braille Primer – I now know the most basic word contractions! – in the top right is the granny square blanket so far as I’d got last night, and the six books I got in a two-for-one deal at the charity shop (they didn’t have any yarn in).

The two books on the left I’ve heard bits of on the radio, the two in the middle I’ve heard commendations of, the Dodie Smith one I’ve had my eye out for, and the Christine de Pisan, well, that brings me straight back to my teen years when I discovered and did a major project on her for school.

I’ll fix the tags, links etc on this entry after Shabbos, and then tell you all I remember about de Pisan (and see does the internet agree with my memory.)

111. The Secret Life of Cows: Animal Sentience at Work by Rosamund Young

This account of several of the cows from the Youngs’ farm is well put together and a wonderful read, more convincing as to how intelligent and loving cattle, and indeed many of the other farm animals, can be, by its friendly style than it might be were it to evangelise.

Good Shabbos!

Slow and steady

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Day 12 of the Omer

I’ve done some more on my granny square lap blanket, lesson 3 of the Braille Primer, and read another book at work. I could take and upload a picture of the first two, but it wouldn’t look particularly different from the latest photos you’ve seen already, so I’ll save on the memory. I’m feeling quite good about the braille letters now, although I can’t read words without working out each letter yet. I’ll get there. In tomorrow’s lesson I start on word contractions (abbreviations), so that’ll be more to remember.

I did go and vote this evening, as I felt I must, considering all the struggles major and minor for emancipation (including a few relatively very small ones of my own for my right to vote this time), even though I literally hadn’t decided who I would vote for by the time I was at the booth with ballot papers and pen in hand. I amn’t going to tell you who I did vote for, and to be honest were I to do it again I amn’t sure it’d come out exactly the same, but that’s the way these things go.

There’s been so much focus on the top two or three candidates for London Mayor that I’ve heard practically nothing at all about the candidates or parties standing for the London Assembly, and so the vote there had to be on party politics, which I don’t always think local elections automatically should be. But it’s done now, and all we can do is await the results.

110. Men’s Fashion Illustrations from the Turn of the Century ed. by Jean L. Druesedow

This book is similar to the one yesterday, with its introduction to the changing styles of fashionable dress during the covered period (here 1900-1910) for its subsection of the population. Whereas the plates in yesterday’s book were originally published in periodicals aimed directly at wealthier women, with children’s fashions shown alongside similar images of clothing for themselves, these plates appeared in supplements to the trade journal of gentlemen’s tailors, for the tailor to show his modish clients, rather than for the fashionable lady to show her dressmaker.

While fashions for gentlemen changed just as often as those for ladies, these modifications were much more subtle, and indeed many of the items would be just about wearable today, given the right setting. Putting aside the golfing plus-fours and sailing outfits, the only strikingly different aspect of the suits and overcoats was the fact that several (although not all, by any means) had very defined waist shaping, which I don’t believe is seen in men’s clothing today. Nothing that would be unusual in tailoring for women, but eye-catching on men, to my not-particularly-fashion-aware modern eyes.

My new handwriting

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Day 11 of the Omer

RNIB Braille Primer Supplementary Exercise 2
Which is what it is, so far, seeing as I won’t be getting my loan Perkins machine for a couple of weeks to actually produce proper braille. Knowing myself, however, I wanted to get started learning straight away (which I did yesterday, as when I put things off it’s hard to get them going), and the point here is really for me to be able to sight-read braille, so I can check that what comes out of the embosser is correct.

Anyway, don’t bother struggling to work out what this says, as it’s just an assortment of words and phrases using letters A-T (I’m on lesson 2). If you’ve followed a touch-typing course you’ll know the kind of thing. (If you are a fluent braille sight-reader and can quickly tell me have I made any obvious mistakes I’d really appreciate it, however.) I’m using graph paper to try to get the spacing consistent, and I think it does look better than the first exercise, that I did on scraps of paper.

109. Children’s Fashions 1860-1912: 1,065 Costume Designs from “La Mode Illustree” ed. by JoAnne Olian

This book has a good introduction explaining what it provides, including an overview of the changing styles of children’s clothing. The illustrations are beautifully reproduced, and were obviously of a very high standard in the first place.