Thursday, 9 April 2020

Reliable Coronavirus Information

There is a lot of misinformation being spread about Coronavirus: causes and cures.
Some of these theories are funny, some make you raise your eyebrows and some are downright scary and will certainly lead to more deaths!

So, I thought I would do my bit and share the people who I have been following in the recent weeks, and they are all medical doctors*.

Firstly, there's Dr John Campbell*: Dr J Campbell's YouTube Channel
He is British and has a very calming voice.  He does a daily global update based on facts and figures.  He gives his expert opinion about what to expect in the coming days and weeks and so far has been proven correct. He also has other videos about whether to wear masks etc. If anybody wants to know what is happening around coronavirus, without any hype and scaremongering, listen to Dr John.

Secondly I follow Dr Duc Vuong: Dr Vuong's YouTube channel
He is an American surgeon who specialises in obesity.  At the start of every episode he shares his qualifications and degree certificates to prove his credentials.  I like Dr Vuong.  He is passionate, to the point he has been accused of scaremongering, but actually he tells it like it is.  He does swear, which I find amusing (especially when he tries not to!) but you can see he believes in what he is saying.  He has produced some good educational videos about how the coronavirus attacks the body, what a cytokine storm is, and he is now moving towards doing more videos with other people.
If anyone is suffering with anxiety around coronavirus, I would suggest watching just one of his videos before you subscribe to him, because he is blunt and he is passionate.  I, personally, find his passion and straight talking to be a comfort against all the crap that is spouted online and from those in positions of power and influence who should know better.

Lastly, ZDogg (or Dr Zubin Damania): ZDogg's YouTube Channel
Again, he is American and he produces videos against "pseudoscientific nonsense" and recently has done videos about coronavirus.  I confess to not having watched as many of these as I have of Dr Campbell and Dr Vuong, but the ones I have watched I have found informative and enjoyed. Especially his satirical and musical ones.

*Technically, Dr Campbell isn't a MD, but he is a medic (nurse) and has a PhD with a medical focus.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

The Magemother by Austin J Bailey

Working through the unread books on my kindle, I am skipping books that are for very young children, but reading books that are aimed at teens.  I'm also going through my books and choosing them based on author's last name (so I previously read and A, this is B for Bailey and next I'm reading C).

This book is actually aimed at Middle-schoolers (I had to look that up, and seems to be roughly 10-13yo), so slightly younger than any of the books I usually read.

The blurb says:
An invisible girl. A missing mage. A world in need…

Brinley has spent most of her life lost in her own imagination, teaching bullfrogs to do gymnastics and pretending to be invisible. Now, when a magic bell from another world summons her across time and space on a journey to find her mother, she will discover real friendship, face true evil, and overcome her greatest fears in order to save the ones she loves.

The Mage and the Magpie is the first book in Austin J. Bailey's Magemother series: an epic middle-grade fantasy adventure series with witches, shapeshifters, and cliffhangers, and awesome kids (There are no boring adults in this book!).

I could tell this book was aimed at children - slightly quicker pace with less description and depth than I'm used to, but actually it was still really enjoyable.  I'm not going to read the subsequent books in the series, but if my children were looking for a fantasy book I would encourage them to read this and I would buy the following books for them.  (And admittedly, once I've bought them, for the kids, I probably would end up reading them.)

The book is really well written and the story is easy to follow, even though you are following multiple characters at times.  I like books with a sense of good prevailing over evil, and even though there are sad bits, the book is built up as an adventure and you cannot always predict what will happen next.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Weekly Update Y2w14

I don't want to get too excited, because I know what I'm like - a couple of weeks of weightloss and then I pile it all back on again.  Especially as this is Easter week, and all the associated foods that I don't/won't deny myself.  Added to the fact that we're in lockdown and we need to use up all DD2's Easter chocolate from last year, before she gets given more this year, I am not pinning any hopes on losing weight this week.

On the positive side, though, we're not in self-isolation any more, so can go to the shops if we need to.  My husband went out yesterday, so we have lots of yummy food in the kitchen, and we still get a weekly delivery of fruit/veg (alternating each week), so there are plenty of ways to be healthy.

And little as it may seem, I have started doing Body Groove again - yey!  I've convinced my husband to join me too.  We're building up slowly due to my unfitness and his embarrassment at dancing round the living room, but we've started and that's the main thing.  And he's still going on runs by himself to keep his own fitness levels up, so isn't his main way of keeping fit, but I know I need to do more, and little by little it can make a difference.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Damage Limitation by Roland Meighan

As a home educator with one child now in school I was interested in a book that discusses reducing the harm that schools do to children. 

This book is actually a collection of articles, talks, letters and other writings from a variety of contributors (as indicated by the front cover).  It is split into eight sections: Damage Limitation; Point of View of Learners; Compulsory Mis-education; Point of View of Parents; Grandparents; Teachers; Damage Limitation; and Education for Violence.

This book was first published in 2004, and from my point of view, I would like to read a similar book that included more recent articles and research.  Having said that, I am glad I have read it, and can imagine it prompting thoughts for some readers, whether parents or teachers!  My favourite bit was the post-script at the very end, entitled "Postscript: beyond damage limitation - teaching in the next learning system..." as it consists of a list of points for anyone in the teaching profession to consider whilst moulding the minds of the youngsters in their care.

I'll end with the text given on the Amazon page:
I have to take a deep breath and I have to put on a positive, cheerful demeanour, for I know that 1 will have to look the system full in the face, every visit, and I know that it will make me unutterably sad.
Why? Why will my walk down the corridor and my visit to the classroom and my attendance at a Governors' meeting make me so unhappy? And why has the recent OFSTED inspection of our secondary school - an expensive charade played out before a captive audience - driven me to speechless levels of impotent anger?
Why does my heart sink when I read of the pupils temporarily and permanently excluded? Why can't I rejoice in the school's strategies to improve the exam results? Why can't I rejoice in the school's strategies to improve the attendance rates, and in its strategies to stamp out bullying and in its policies on the wearing of school uniform and the control of litter? Why can't I rejoice in the knowledge that, after a few days' presence, the OFSTED team consulted its tick lists and concluded that a high percentage of the lessons observed were ‘satisfactory’?
I cannot.
As I walk down the corridors now and sit in on lessons and attend Governors' meetings, I see and hear from the imprisoned, the deflected, the exhausted and often the deflated. I find myself particularly studying the Headteacher for any sign of his or her cracking up, or giving up. Amazingly, despite everything, some enthusiasms do survive in small places and small doses.
But all is not well. Almost every week now I read of changes in the educational policy of the government, and these changes add up to an unacknowledged admission that things have gone badly wrong.
As I write, I have on my desk some news of the latest change: national trials are under way, apparently, of a new and less stressful test for seven-year-olds in England. The head of testing at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has said:
"I think this is the future, if we are going to move away from high stakes testing. We want to see if the current system can be improved, above all by valuing the teacher's detailed knowledge of the children in the class."
What words! What sentiments! Shall we weep now, or later? The damage already done to seven-year-olds by key stage one testing is quietly buried beneath another vision of the future for young children in the schools they have to attend. The damage is real. This book makes that abundantly clear; so powerfully clear in fact, that one could be forgiven for doing a Corporal Jones, who, whenever a threatening situation occurs, runs around exhorting people not to panic.
The contributors to Damage Limitation offer an alternative to panic, and an alternative to formal schooling. They are not siren voices. Far from it. They look at the present system of schooling with a clear, unflinching eye, and suggest what should happen to make schools, which are by their very nature authoritarian institutions having to march to a tune not of their own making, far less damaging to children. In addition, they go on to unfold their belief in children, in how children learn and in how they should be treated. They declare their belief in the life-affirming purpose of education, and in doing so they refuse to accept that there is no alternative to what John Taylor Gatto calls the ‘twelve-year jail sentence’.
As a briefing book on how to get educated despite school, this is both a timely exposure and a heart-warming inspiration. It is written by people whose experience in education has touched them deeply and made them think long and hard about what it means, and what it takes, to be educated. It deserves to be read by as wide an audience as possible, and we owe Professor Meighan a debt of gratitude for bringing it to life.
Peter Holt

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Black Virus and Black Rust by Bobby Adair

We're in the middle of a pandemic.  What better way to pass the time than to read about a pandemic that sweeps the whole world?

Black Virus is a short story prequel about the virus itself...
Virus. Chaos. Survival.

Alienated in a world where he doesn’t fit in, Christian Black survives because he’s different. Then the virus came, and made the world turn different, too.

Now people are dying by the million. Food supplies are short. Riots are blazing through the streets, and Christian’s only goal is to keep his family alive. But safety lies far from the city, and just getting out will be tougher than anyone knows.
...whereas Black Rust is set 15 years later, and is about how people deal with the aftermath.
The virus came, and the world fell into an abyss.

Starvation camps, corporate farms, endless ghettos, and failed states darken a future where most of the population has been twisted by the disease.

To protect itself, a corrupt system pays Christian Black and others like him to exterminate violent degenerates who would destroy what's left of the world. Unfortunately, a mistake has been made and Christian has put too many of the wrong ones to death.

Laws have been broken. Punishment comes for Christian, but he will stop at nothing to keep his freedom.

Fortunately, the Brisbane Strain is nothing like the Coronavirus we're currently dealing with.  Rather this is type of zombipocalypse - though those badly affected by the virus become degenerates, rather than zombies who die and come back to life.

These are two thrilling stories, and even though Christian Black is portrayed as 'different' and needing a therapist, actually he doesn't seem that different to me.  He just makes hard choices and sometimes goes too far.

At the very end of Black Rust there is a twist in the plot that I didn't see coming (and I like it when I don't see them coming!).  According to Amazon, the next book is due out August 2016 and to my knowledge it hasn't been written yet.  If/when it does, I would happily read what happens next in the saga.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Saints and Sinners series Books 2 & 3 by Dayo Benson

After reading Book 1 in this series the other day, I finished the next two books in less that 24hrs: City of Angels and Unholy Ground

These two books go into much more detail about why the series in named as it is - Saints and Sinners is a TV reality show where 'Saints' try to change the behaviour of 'Sinners', and 'Sinners' try and change the behaviour of the 'Saints'.  Colby persuades Chloe to audition for a part on the show, and they both get picked, but on competing teams.  This book is still a romance, albeit more about unrequited love, so there is sexual tension amongst the TV cameras in the Saints and Sinners house.

I loved these books.  They are very easy to read, and I devoured them.  There are highs and lows in the story, areas of tension (both romantic and thriller), serious topics and humour. 

The only slight negative I have with these books, is that it explores Satanism somewhat.  When/if there is a 4th book, I'm sure that will be resolved, but as it is for the 3 books, that plot-line didn't add too much to the story so seemed unnecessary.  I think the books would have been just as enjoyable as a trilogy without that complication.  But, as I said, that's only negative I have. 
Read these books, they're good!

Monday, 30 March 2020

Weekly Update Y2w13

There has been some progress!  Whether it's because we've been stuck in the house for a week and been forced to cook from scratch, whether it's because I'm drinking more water as I'm now accountable to someone who checks up on me, whether it's because that same person is specifically praying for my health, or something else entirely, I don't know.  But there had been progress and I am happy about that.
I need to keep this momentum going, so I have been thinking of other things to add to my routine.  I know I need to do some kind of exercise, as being stuck in the house means I am being more slothful than usual.  I want to get back to doing Body Groove, but with DD1 doing her schoolwork on the table in the living room, and both girls and my husband generally taking the mick, I haven't been inclined to do it when they're around.  (Which admittedly is a bit of an excuse, as I wasn't doing it before lockdown either.)  I have downloaded the 7min workout app, in the hope that I can start there, get in the habit of doing a short burst of exercise each day, and slowly build it up.  My husband uses the app sometimes, but he uses the full version, whereas I'll be starting as a beginner.