Monthly archives: October 2006

Let's all feel really sorry for the SUV drivers

Oh, okay, let’s not.

The Lib Dem controlled council of Richmond Upon Thames has pre-empted national policy with a proposal to increase the cost of parking permits for more polluting vehicles and second cars. This extra charge only applies to vehicles parked in the street, the only ones for which a permit is required, so may not be as effective as they’d like, but it’s a start.

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Whiteboard Plus

Activity on Spinneyhead has been low for the last few days, and not just because of going to a wedding. I’m working on a number of other projects, which will be revealed soon.

Most promising of my current non-Spinneyhead projects is Whiteboard Plus. I’ve been working with Clare since the end of her teacher training year to create a site that would be a resource for interactive whiteboards. The plan is to provide material that teachers can use on interactive whiteboards, forums where they can discuss technology in the classroom and news around the subject.

If you are a teacher, or know any, please pop on over and join our nascent community and give us feedback to help it grow. If you, too, have created material for interactive whiteboards then we would be interested in partnering with you to sell bundles themed around particular aspects of the curriculum. At present, as Clare trained as a Maths teacher, Maths is the main subject area covered, so we’ll be particularly interested if you can cover some other area.

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Support your local Spinneyhead

I know that a lot of you buy stuff from amazon. It pains me to have to say it, but none of you seem to go through spinneyhead to get there.

Next time you want to go on a book buying binge spare a thought for a poor struggling blogger and come here first. I’ll even put up a direct link to the home page so all you have to do is click.

More first drafts

Coming soon will be a blogspot blog just for the first drafts of all the stuff I’m writing at the moment. They’ll still be published here, this new clog will be all fiction all the time.

The idea is to elicit feedback and pan for donations, as well as making the stories easier for editors to find.

I’m scribbling stuff down faster than I can type it up at the moment. I’ve finished the crime story, working title So Much To Answer For, and it’s going to come in between 12000 and 15000 words, which is novella length. I think it needs a bit more middle and more peril, but I’ll decide how much based upon comments.

The Boyfriend Season idea has inspired me. Bouncing off it I’ve started on a first person piece that may form the basis for the restarted Post & Publish. It’s also an experiment in how little I need to say to paint in a setting without making it so minimalist only I know what the narrator is talking about. You won’t get to see how well I’ve done until after I’ve published So Much To Answer For. I think it’ll be worth the wait.

Now I must get back to scribbling. I think I know what the punchline’s going to be.

Heaven knows I'm (less) miserable now

I never thought I’d be reading, or recommending, a self help book.

A couple of months ago, whilst reading around the subject, I realised that I’ve been having bouts of depression since my teens. Failure to recognise this sooner had left me without developed coping mechanisms and no doubt held me back on occasion. It was only because I was in the worst spell I could remember that I ended up doing anything about it.

My GP recommended Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, but admitted that it would be at least six months before I could expect to see someone on a one to one basis. He gave me a couple of web addresses to check out in the mean time.

Most informative of the sites was Mood Gym. It was whilst reading this site that I began to recognise my history of depression. The site is meant to introduce Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and seems biased toward university students (it is running on an domain). There are also a few exercises to help you to help yourself.

Mood Gym isn’t perfect. The exercises didn’t always save properly and its insistence on referring to “Warpy thoughts” grated. However it did Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and drove me to look for a more in depth resource.

I decided to move on to bibliotherapy. The third result on Amazon for “Cognitive Therapy”, after Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Dummies and Mind Over Mood: Cognitive Treatment Therapy Manual for Clients was Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy. Despite having fewer stars, the reader reviews were, for me, more convincing. I’ve been working my way through it for the last few weeks.

The theory behind Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is quite obvious. Before chemical imbalances or external influences, it is what you think that affects how you feel. Negative thoughts make youfeel bad, bad mood leads to more negative thoughts, and so it continues.. The trick is to recognise what the author calls Automatic Thinking (“warpy thoughts” if you’re an Australian undergraduate) and counter it. There are other factors, for example depression makes you feel that you can’t do anything, so you don’t, thus reinforcing your feelings of uselessness. Unsurprisingly, the answer to this is to do something, because you’ll be surprised how good it feels to get even the simplest job done.

This all sounds like the sort of advice friends and family try to give you- “Pull your socks up”, “Snap out of it” etc. The problem is that, no matter how well meaning, the drive can’t come from outside because you’ll just react against it.

There’s more. Advice on dealing with criticism and guilt and controlling your anger and other things that can bring you down. There’s also a large reference section on all the drugs you might be prescribed, how they act and what side effects may occur so you’ll be better informed if your doctor prescribes them.

Is it working for me? I think so. I’m still not the happiest person you’ll meet, but I am learning to cope and to cut off the negative thoughts before they put me in a funk. I’m also forcing myself to do stuff, no matter what. It may not be focussed exactly where it should be, but it all helps. Soon enough I hope to be back to full working order, growing Spinneyhead’s tail and looking to the future.

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Something I won't be doing on Saturday

Every so often I have the sort of evil thought I wouldn’t ever act upon.

Everyone should turn off their mobile for a wedding ceremony, it’s common courtesy. Just imagine the possibilities for evil. Just before going into the service create a text message to everyone you know is there saying something like “Did you turn your phone off?” then send it just as the bride walks down the aisle.

It has potential for entertainment, but I am not responsible for any lynchings that result.

If I now forget to turn off my phone on Saturday I am going to be in so much trouble…..