Tag Archive | ou

A nervous nose appears …

I’m creeping nervously back into my old haunts. Given that last time I said I was back I promptly fell off the blogging wagon again I am loath to make an definitive statements this time.


Life has been quite an adventure since we last spoke. My dad gave us all a scare when he started losing his sight in his left eye. On Sunday it was hazy by Tuesday he couldn’t see anything out it. Very scary!! It was job to accompany him to various hospital departments. He didn’t have an appointment so we had to hang around for four hours while they squeezed him in. He got a very exciting ultrasound of his eye which was interesting to watch while showed he had blood in the eyeball. They weren’t sure if his retina had detached so he had to come in the next day for more shoe horned appointments. He had his first minor surgery that day to laser the small tears but they could not be sure they had them all. So the next day (Thursday) he had another minor surgery where the next guy up the chained lasered the back of his eye some more. However on the Monday they then dragged him back to drain the blood pool from his eyeball, finish off lasering bits and put in a gas bubble into his eye.


For the gas bubble to work effectively to press his retina back against the tissue without scarring Dad was required to stay in one set position for 50 minutes out of ever hour. This meant I had to take over feeding everyone and Mum took over cleaning up after me. It was pretty exhausting standing making dinner every night. I am extremely grateful that Dad is back in working order now. Worse he needed drops put in his eyes every 2 hours for the first week so it was a bit of a strain having to get up and down all the time. It is amazing how quickly 2 hours can pass when you are reading.


Because of all this family drama my Open University assignment got put off indefinitely. Finally the final, final deadline was given. Tomorrow the assignment must be in or I fail this course. Thankfully I have had a burst of thinking wellness and have just completed the last question. There is one question where I am extremely dubious about my answer but otherwise I am very pleased with my work. I shall just have to see whether my marks are any good.


Right having blown all my brain cells on databases and SQL queries today I am now off to curl up with a good Kindle!


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 1 session 😐
Headache intensity / pain level : 1 😀
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 4 😐
Fatigue : 5 😐
Brain Fog : 5 😐

Short but sweet …

Off to the physiotherapist today to confess to my sins. Have completely collapsed since my last visit and so expect to get that disappointed look. Still given that I did manage to get my assignment in on time it has not been a total loss the last few weeks. I am now gearing up to get the next assignment done – due in 24th April. Only got 4 weeks or so which means need to get myself in the groove soon.


In other news I’ve been engrossed in a reading binge. I have read all 10 of the Blood Destiny Series by Connie Suttle, all 5 of the Legend of the Ir’Indicti Series and am now working my way through her High Demon Series. If you are looking for a little bit of little fantasy this is your author. Don’t expect deep plotting but do enjoy a rollicing storyline as she barrels towards the her finale  She has managed to make me cry while reading so don’t expect it to be all sunshine and light either.


Right I’ve off to get dressed to leave. Speak soon I hope.

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 12 hours in 1 session 😐
Headache intensity / pain level : 4 😦
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 5 😐
Brain Fog : 5 😐

Another one bites the dust …

Well, it is gone, done, finished. The first assignment for this year’s course with the Open University is submitted. It is winging its way across the ether as we speak. It actually turned out not to be a complete nightmare AND I got it submitted by the deadline, whoo! The large part got done two weeks ago when I had my bright spot and worked my way through all the diagram questions. Today and yesterday I was focused on getting the last of the short answer questions out of the way. I now know what the legal and ethical implications of database management are or at least my assignment knows. I’ve already overwritten those files in my memory.

When I haven’t been assignment working (most of the time) I have been (surprise, surprise) reading. Given my slow brain melting state the last few days I’ve been going back re-reading some favourites. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my favourite authors. Her Miles Vorkosigan series blew me away when I first got started with Cordelia’s Honor back in 2008. Since then I have gone on to read everything she has every published that I can get my hands on! Anyway I was started off on this path of remembrance by her latest release – Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Having read the newest book in the series I decided to go back and read the earliest. I’m now back up to book 12 in the series so I’ll soon be back to where I started!

As a break in the science fiction writing I also started reading a book I’d been recommend by Amazon. I recently worked my way through the Nola O’Grady books by Katherine Kerr starting with License to Ensorcell. I loved these books – urban fantasy with a dash of humour. I can’t wait to find out with her next adventure might be. Since I’d run out of Nola’s adventures to read I tried a new book Blood Wager by Connie Suttle – book 1 in her Blood Destiny series. I really enjoyed it. I really like the heroine Lissa – a newly turned vampire. It’s fun hearing her complain about her new life not coming with a manual. I must say the ending annoyed me mostly because I wanted to thump one of the male characters round the head. When you start composing rants as you lie down to sleep dressing a character down for their behaviour you know you have been well and truly sucked into a series.
To distract myself from my spiraling rage I went back to visualizing my latest fantasy novel idea. I really should be trying to visualize in the novel I’ve already started but right now I don’t have the heart for it. I hope that I’ll feel more myself as the summer draws near and will then tackle the Moon Daughter project. In the meantime I’ve been dreaming up new worlds and characters. My ‘what-if’ from a couple of posts back (8th March 2013) has matured into 3 fleshed out characters, a world magic system, 2 local environments and 3 visualized scenes. This is still a very early phase though. I am nowhere near having a plot or character arc in sight!

Well now that I am done working for the day I shall head off to read the next book on my list either A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold or Blood Passage by Connie Suttle.

Hours Sleep Today so far : – 5 hours in 1 session 😦
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 😀
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 4.5 🙂
Brain Fog : 5 😐

Trying to train a young dog in old tricks …

Wow, I can’t believe it has been 10 days since my last blog. I am struggling to get back into old habits. Partly this is because my laptop was stolen away by my mum for a few days. She needed my Vista since her Windows 8 was not cooperating with her. My other reasons include recovering from major life events.


In the UK if you are disabled and need support with your care at home you can apply for a benefit called Disability Living Allowance. This comes in several different levels but in previous years I have been on the lowest rate for the care support and the highest rate for mobility. Basically the highest rate for mobility is not much money but it does include an automatic right to a Blue Badge which gives you access to yellow line parking. So when I reapplied in 2011 it was the expectation that my benefits would be continued as usual though it is always a very process in and of itself. Shockingly I was turned down completely. They seemed to think that I had been cured!! So over the last year we have been going through the appeals process. It finally culminated with a face to face tribunal on Tuesday of last week.


The tribunal was three people across a desk from me and my mum. By prior consent I was not told of the date of the tribunal until the day before. This cut out all the days of worrying I would otherwise of wasted my time on. With only 24 hours notice I was in surprisingly calm frame of mind as we arrived. Due to inclement weather the tribunal was running behind but this did not bother me. I had my Kindle with me after all. Still I was pleasingly calm when we finally entered the session some 60 mins after our arrival. The session itself went very well. I tried to follow my mum’s advice to pause and count to 5 before answering. I have a tendency to rush in with an answer that is then usual not entirely accurate. The questions themselves were offered in a very gentle way. I was frightened that I might end up being cross-examined or with hostile questioning but the panel were very mild in their tone. A mere hour later it was all over. We trundled home in the snow to await the result. On Thursday I was informed by post that I was to be awarded the lowest rate care and mobility back dated to the decision in 2011. Yeah!!! 😀


This of course would be quite enough of an outing to incapacitate me for a few days but on Thursday I was roused from my prone position to celebrate my sister’s birthday. This was to be a big occasion – not her birthday but the first occasion of meeting her boyfriend of 3 months. We went into the nearby large town to eat at our favourite Greek restaurant. The food was spectacular as usual. We, under strict orders, managed to not embarrass my sister too much. I certainly enjoyed a chance to see her young man in person. He certainly managed to cope with us for one evening to his credit!


Now as the new week begins I am still trying to pick myself up from last week. With my Open University assignment due in on Wednesday this week hopefully my brain will start co-operating soon.


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 13 hours in 2 sessions 😐
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 😀
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 6 😦
Brain Fog : 5.5 😦

Beware: Hibernating readers may wake at anytime…

Hello World. Yes I might actually be back. Despite my absence for 65 days I did not in fact forget about you I just had a bout of computer phobia. When my M.E. related depression gets bad I get anxious just thinking about turning on the computer. I won’t even nip on my mum’s which is almost always running to check email. So all my online activities have suffered from my complete absence. It is quite amazing how many emails you can stockpile in two months.


While I’ve been hibernating there have been many developments. Today’s cumulative good news is that my sister is now officially a doctor of philosophy in Psychology. She submitted her corrections a week ago or so. Her confirmation letter came in the post this morning and she is on her way to collect her certificate this afternoon. So we now have a doctor in the house! 🙂


In other news my mum has completed her radiotherapy sessions and is now dealing with the aftermath. Her arm is still very sore from the surgery at Christmas. But at least she is not having to go the hospital every day as she was for the radiotherapy treatment. Otherwise she has weathered this storm with her usual unruffled grace.


As I attempt to drag myself out of my winter cave I find myself tripping over Open University textbooks. My first assignment is due in on the 20th March. Amazingly in 2 days I have completed 60 marks out of 40 so have a presentable assignment already at this stage. Of the remaining 40 marks one question looks relatively simple and the other one looks like my worst nightmare. In fact the question heading says ‘tests your ability to select and relate material from various topics’. Arr! 😦 There is also the ‘note you should not need more than 600 words’ warning flag. I absolutely hate paragraph or long answer questions. Give me a diagram to draw or convert, or code to write and I’m happy. Ask me to ‘briefly distinguish between terms’ and I’m looking on the question of doom. Still I shall solider on and at least attempt to put some sentences together I might be able to pick a few marks.


On the topic of putting together sentences – work on my novel halted back in November. I haven’t yet come out of my cave far enough to resume writing. However I have been the recipient of another writers brainwave. I have been pondering fairy stories again. This time what would happen if the evil fairy at Sleeping Beauty’s christening instead of wishing for death at the pricking of her finger on a spindle simply wished that all the other fairies’ wishes came true precisely. What if your skin actually was as white as snow? Perhaps as cold and wet as well? I’ve been having an interesting time thinking about the impact of those seemingly benign wishes. Now I’m working on why the different factions of fairies/witches might exist and what the king’s reaction is going to be to all this. Anyway it keeps me entertained as I lie on the acupuncture table each week and before I drift of to sleep at night.


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 1 session 🙂
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 🙂
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 3 🙂
Fatigue : 3 🙂
Brain Fog : 3.5 🙂

Head banging …

Finally yesterday I did manage to get some work done on my novel. I think I have the plot points sorted out for the four different streams of characters. I surprised myself by actually having a good number of the plot points already covered just not emphasized correctly. There is a fair bit of deadwood in the writing so far though. I need to go through and hack out all the scenes that aren’t immediately required so that I can see the bare bones of the novel and then work backwards adding in material.


Apart from that couple of hours bashing my head against a brick wall it was a nice slow Saturday. I spent most of the rest of the day reading voraciously. I’m trying to stem my recent Kindle addiction buying glut by re-reading my back catalogue. So far I’ve had some success in stemming my book buying urges. I only bought 2 books yesterday instead of 10 books like on Thursday.


With National Novel Writing Month approaching so rapidly I need to get a move on and get myself prepared. I must say I’m still finding it odd to get up in the morning and not worry about what Open University studies I need to complete for the day. Oh well, I just have to hold out till February when my next course on databases starts.


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 1 sessions 🙂
Headache intensity / pain level : 2 😀 😀
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 5.5 😐
Brain Fog : 5.5 😐

On your marks … Set … Go …

11 days until Open University software development exam – ahhh! :-S I began my revision this morning with creating a breakdown of the 6 past papers I own. It is amazing the patterns in questions. I can now tell you with 99.9 % confidence that I will need to draw a state diagram for question 6, that at some point I will need to draw an activity diagram, state the signature and specification of an operation and redraw a communication or sequence diagram to it’s counterpart diagram. I’m feeling much more confident now I see what I need to revise and what I don’t.


By the way my sister’s thesis was submitted on Thursday 28th September. I had only one day where I only got 3 hours sleep trying to get it all down. However we did have a week of eating, sleeping and proofreading! The end product was well worth it – it looked like a professional document, which is what we were aiming for. I am incredibly proud of my sister’s hard work, determination and professionalism. I’m expecting that she shall excel in the academic world. She has already been asked to oversee an analysis of undergraduate statistics performance. Now we begin the preparation for the viva (an oral exam) – she is worried about it but I know she’ll do herself proud.


After all that stress I’ve had a few days hibernating with a series of good books – getting my head out of thesis space. I’ve found myself in a romantic suspense mood so I’ve been motoring through different series – I think I’ve read about 15 books in the last 4 days. I’ve added Kristen Ashley (Rock Chick), Suzanne Ferrell (Kidnapped), Katie Reus (No One to Trust), Tess St John (Don’t Let it Show), and Julie Ann Walker (Hell on Wheels) to my list authors to watch for new releases list. I’m very excited because the nest book in Julie Ann Walker’s series is out tomorrow so I am counting the hours! I’m gradually working my way through their back catalog’s; it will be a good way to get some time out from software development definitions and diagrams.


I did manage to get a little time in on my novel on Saturday. I tried to outline my plot using the 7 Point System. I know I have to outline the plots for at least 4 of my characters since they are point of view characters but I think I may have to outline other characters as well mainly the bad guys. It is much harder than it looks! But I’m getting there. Hopefully once the exam is done I’ll have time before the November National Novel Writing Month to get myself ready to rewrite and finish this novel.


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 1 sessions 😀
Headache intensity / pain level : 4 🙂
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 3 😀
Fatigue : 3 😀
Brain Fog : 4 😀

Submit or die …

The assignment has been submitted, whoo! Gosh, the relief of it. Done now, all over – just the exam to worry about now – eek! The tutorial I went to on the 1st September was really helpful, but I had forgotten what it was like to be hit by a bus. I woke up on Sunday feeling crummy; on Monday I felt like someone had run over me in the night. In fact my headache was so bad it woke me at 6am. I spent yesterday dosing back the painkillers every 4 hours, in sunglasses, with the curtains drawn just to keep the headache to a manageable level. I’d forgotten what these headaches were like; go a couple of weeks without one and the ME brain just deletes the experience from your memory centers.


My sister has been really supportive: sitting besides me in the dark to watch tv. We’ve been fast-forwarding our way through the Paralympics. I really enjoy listening to the commentary but with 12 hours of tv time every day we can’t keep up. So we whizz our way through to the action, watch  the actual races and the odd British medal ceremony. We aren’t that bothered to watch Judo or table tennis, but we love the swimming, cycling, equestrian, and athletics.


My writing energy has been mostly diverted the last few days. My sister’s PhD thesis deadline is looming so I need to crack on my proofreading that at every opportunity. I normally only have 2-4 hours working time during the day – that is hours were I’m able to actually think clearly enough to work. At the moment I am spending them all on my sister. Once I get over the bulk of her proofreading I will then be on to serious revision. So it looks like this month is going to be a quiet writing month.


I did have a  moment of brilliance though on Saturday. For my degree we have to create a software program as part of the final year project. I’ve been mildly worried about it, i.e., quite worried when I thought about it but ignoring it normally. The tutors say things like ‘do you have a problem at work you could create a solution for?’ As an unemployed, unconscious layabout this is not very helpful. However on Saturday I realized I do have something now in my life other than Open University and tv. In a flash I thought ‘what about a writing program that prompts you with character development questions?’ There is loads of stuff I’ve been thinking about relating to this idea so I’m excited. My project is still at least 2 years away, but if I’ve had one idea I can have more! I’m planning on sitting down and making some notes on my computer to save for when I get to submitting proposal ideas. This has lifted the weight from me – now I know I have an idea I don’t have that nagging worry that I’m just not good enough to complete the degree. I was worried I would get to that final project and simply have nothing to contribute or create. But now I’m feeling much happier. Yeah, for me (throws virtual confetti in the air).


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 4 sessions 😦
Headache intensity / pain level : 7.5 😦
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 8 😦
Brain Fog : 3.5 🙂

Open and shut …

Open University M363 Tutorial

Wonderful but exhausting. I slept on the way home which is very rare for me and then had fours asleep as soon as I could stumble into bed. I find the face-to-face tutorial extremely useful for the exam revision. I wish we had been able to go a bit more in-depth with the exam question analysis but what we did was helpful. I was able to get some of my quibbles answered regarding my final assignment so I shall be fiddling tomorrow and then submitting as soon as possible.


National Novel Writing Month

I had honest to goodness tears in my eyes as I validated my novel yesterday. I made it! 31 days of thinking about my novel everyday, supporting my fellow campers and here I am a successful National Novel Writing Monthwriter.

I’m a winner!

This is me hitting the 50,000 word bullseye

My total word count for this month came to 50, 802 words. I did cheat slightly. I’ve been using acronyms for a lot of my military characters like DHMI for Deputy Head of Military Intelligence to save my fingers as I write. But this morning I went into Search and Replace and put in all the full names so I increased my word count without actually writing. Of course on the re-write I am going to have to think of actual names for all these people. They can’t just be job titles forever!


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 8 hours in 2 sessions 😦
Headache intensity / pain level : 5 😐
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 5.5 😐
Brain Fog : 5 😐

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? …

I’ve found a new cure for afternoon naps – zooming military aircraft. We had our local airshow yesterday. Surprising it is quite difficult to sleep through a fly by of a Vulcan bomber, not to mention the fighter jets and such. I just powered through. I did looked like a pile of wet noodles by the evening. Even my sister had mercy on me and let me off playing family board games with her. We indulged in Being Human – series 2 and Dexter – series 3 instead. A wonderful evening of tele.


Class of 2002 Reunion

Progress is finally occurring with my school reunion. We got some dates through so we can finally (!) being arranging a date and the specifics. I say ‘we’ I mean me. I’ve got loads of ideas but whether I can make them happen or not, humm. At least my sister is on board with all of them and has already promised to help sort out some of the paper side. I need lots of stuff printed for display and she is going to help out with ferrying my to a copiers etc.


I’ve realized organizing something like this event is actually quite complicated. I mean I knew it would be but we need helpers and I don’t where we are going to get them for free. I can’t be stewarding the parking, on the sign-in desk, on the yearbook desk, on the drinks table and mc-ing at the same time! I’ve only got three spare family members to ‘volunteer’ to the job as well. Well, we’ll figure something out. My sister suggested that we should just let everyone figure out there own parking and that they were probably capable of pouring their own drinks! True I’m sure, but I’m bound to spend the event popping over to check on everything. I’d really like to be able to spend the event circulating and such not being stressed over the organisation side. This is a fanciful dream on my part but I can hope!



I got my 3,000 words written yesterday so I’m on track to make my target word count if I can write 3,000 today. My characters were very co-operative yesterday for a change. I do wonder whether I will have to cut the chapter I wrote yesterday. I spent 3,000 words describing the arrival of my main character, Victoria’s, family members to a dinner. I wanted to show all the different relationships but it is probably too long. Anyway no editing until the novel is finished! I do seem to be building towards or at least foreshadowing an ending now so that is good news. My characters are arranging themselves to all be in the same place at the same time for the first time in the novel. I’m looking forward to seeing what they have to say to each other.


So I’m off to write for a bit, until my sister comes downstairs to interrupt me. Yes, I know I should be doing some Open University work but my brain is a bit crunched today. I can’t seem to get it into gear at the moment. It surprises me I can still write but maybe I’ll look back with a clear brain and see that I have to scrap everything I’ve written in this state. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll feel less like my brain is stuck to an ice pole. If I tip my head back it feels like the forehead will rip off, right now it just feels like a brain deep burning sensation.


Hours Sleep Today so far : – 9 hours in 1 sessions 🙂
Headache intensity / pain level : 4.5 😦
Nausea level : 0 😀
Joint / muscle pain : 2 😀
Fatigue : 5.5 😦
Brain Fog : 5.5 😦