Out and about to celebrate almost-Dr Cruickshank!

My brilliant colleague Peter Cruickshank has finished all the work for his PhD by published works. He has submitted his thesis, defended it in an oral exam, made the very few and very minor corrections emerging from the exam, and submitted the final version. So there’s only a bit of bureaucracy between him and being doctored.

To celebrate this, our prof (Hazel Hall) and her husband (Tim) invited Peter, his wife (Sam), me and my wife (Elly) to lunch last Sunday. Here are the happy people:

Peter, Sam, Hazel, Tim, Elly (photo by Bruce)

Peter and Sam (photo by Hazel)

Bruce and Elly (photo by Hazel)

I can’t do justice to Peter’s thesis here. However, writing from it may appear in future papers, and the actual thesis may appear in Napier’s repository.

But I do want to publicly thank Peter for his massive support for my career as a researcher. In September 2011 I started a part-time MSc in ‘information systems development’ at Napier, after illness put an end to my publishing career. (My progress through the MSc is documented in my original blog, Just another bipedal sack of DNA and neuroses, because that’s what humans are.)

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Getting older!

So this month I reached a semi-significant age-milestone. I’m not sure how I feel about this, except that the next fully significant milestone hints at potential retirement. How did I get to be this old? Actually, scrap the ‘retirement’ idea. I enjoy my Napier, community council and LeithChooses work, so I want to carry on with all of it. (But maybe I can reduce it a bit so I have more time for the much better half and me.)

Anyway, celebrations consisted of the first cycle this year with the much better half and not one but two ‘birthday-burgers’.

Here’s  a screenshot of the inevitable cyclemeter map. (The actual map states when my birthday was, so I’m not linking to it.)

screenshot of cycle-route around Edinburgh

Countdown to LeithChooses voting…3,2,1!

Steps to voting

  • Read through the short descriptions of all the projects.
  • Note the four you want to vote for. (Include at least one from those marked as ‘Qualifies for a  Boost Vote’.)
  •  On or after 25th January, go to the voting website www.edinburgh.gov.uk/voteleithchooses.
  •  Register with your postcode and email address.
  •  Follow the prompts and place your 4 votes.
    • You have 3 ‘normal’ votes – you can vote for any 3 projects. (You can’t give any project more than one of your ‘normal’ votes.)
    • You have 1 ‘boost’ vote, which you can give to any project that qualifies for a boost vote. You can give this to a project that got one of your ‘normal’ votes, or to a different project.
  •  Click to submit.

If you’ve already read through the projects and selected those you wish to vote for, then actual voting will only take you a few minutes.

If you haven’t yet read about the projects, you will still be able to see the information on the LeithChooses website and on the voting website, after registering.

You have a whole week (25 to 31 January 2021) to vote – but PLEASE don’t leave it to the last minute!

(Text shamelessly adapted from LeithChooses blog-post!)

Bruce and Elly’s 2020 – the EZ-read version

2020 started off fairly rubbish for Bruce and his family. Thanks to Elly for keeping him sane-ish! Then we all got hassled by lockdown. Bruce and Elly are both very grateful that they have indoor jobs with no heavy listing. Or, indeed, jobs at all.

Elly’s workload at her company (Glen Shuraig Consulting) goes, er, from strength to strength. It’s a lot easier than being a civil servant would be right now. Elly asks that we take a moment to remember all the fantastic work being done by civil servants. It’s much less recognised than the fantastic work being done by staff in the NHS and the care system, but it’s still really important, and people have been working under huge pressure all year.

Meanwhile, Bruce continues to enjoy being a part-time academic at Edinburgh Napier University; minutes secretary and IT-wonk at three Edinburgh Community Councils (Leith Central, Leith Harbour & Newhaven, New Town & Broughton – he doesn’t live in any of those areas) and at LeithChooses participatory budgeting scheme, and even doing some commercial web-design. He continues to rant into the internet via this website.

Travel has been rather limited. (Bruce has only been on campus three times since March; Elly give up her desk in a shared office in town.) Neither of us have driven to Barnard Castle, so Elly’s eyesight must be OK. (Bruce doesn’t drive.) We had planned to go to a hobbit-house in the Netherlands in April 2020, but clearly that got squelched. We hope to go in April 2021 instead – we badly miss Euro-asphalt and Doppelespressos in local-cafés. Also, Bruce plans to apply for a post-doc position in Krems, Austria when all the ‘rona-horror is over. So he has been trying to improve his German with the aid of a teacher from Austria. He is jealous that she and her ‘Schatzi’ (look it up!) have just moved to Bali!

Both Bruce and Elly have been spinning (indoor cycling), dancing on the pedals at LifesCycle’s live classes via FaceBook. Elly is better at attending – and spinning – than Bruce.

She’s better at most things, Bruce says.

Elly says Bruce is just suffering from imposter syndrome.

Bruce says that’s just a fancy way of saying he doesn’t have enough self-confidence.

Elly says we should stop this debate now for the benefit of everyone’s sanity.)

Ah well, that’s almost it for 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 is better. (If it’s going to be worse, please just count us out.)

Love from Bruce and Elly

Going-away music

I just found this in my files from when I was recovering from serious illness in late 2016. My tastes haven’t changed much since then. NB I don’t currently plan to go away soon – too much living to do still.

Songs for Bruce’s funeral and/or wake

Links in song-titles are to YouTube videos, just so you know what the songs are. At the actual event, use the original vinyl or CD, not the Youtube versions.

Song Artist Album Why
and other ramblings?
Pigs on the wing (part 1) Pink Floyd Animals Classic intro
Pigs on the wing parts 1 and 2 must begin and end the proceedings.
Advertisement (another intentional irrelevant suicide) Roy Harper Whatever happened to Jugula? Sound effects!
Decades Joy Division Closer This song has always taken me places.
Drugs for everybody Roy Harper The dream society Generosity
Hope Roy Harper Whatever happened to Jugula? Because there has to be some.
The final cut Pink Floyd The final cut One of the ultimate expressions of my paranoia
Don’t use both The final cut and Not now John – both would be too gloomy.
Miss Europa Disco Dancer Manic Street Preachers Know your enemy An alternative to the Dambusters’ March.
Use the Youtube version ONLY IF you show the video.
Not now John Pink Floyd The final cut The other ultimate expression of my paranoia
(If using Not now John, it MUST be the album version, i.e. with swearing.)
Boogeyman Motörhead Rock and roll Gotta have some Motörhead, and this has a brilliant intro by Lemmy
The lord’s prayer Roy Harper Lifemask 20 minutes of Roy’s finest, from a time when he nearly died
Ease PiL Album It just rocks!
You can have it all Kaiser Chiefs Employment Because I won’t need anything anymore
The masses against the classes Manic Street Preachers Forever delayed Class struggle!
Change Lightning Seeds Jollification Happy, skip-along pop
Faster Manic Street Preachers The holy bible An antidote to happy, skip-along pop. Possibly the finest Manics song.
Do NOT use the Chemical Brothers’ remix from Forever Delayed.
It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine) REM Document Something more populist and upbeat
Echoes Pink Floyd Meddle Because it’s just brilliant.
If possible, use the version from Live in Pompeii.
Pigs on the wing (part 2) Pink Floyd Animals Classic outro – we’ll look after each other

Right up yer kilt!

Today is the last full day for a while when I can sit on the old bog-seat in the garden, smoking my wotsits off. It may also be the last day for a while that I ride Nikita the folding bike. So here are some celebratory photos.

Bruce lighting a fag in the garden

lighting up

Bruce enjoying a fag in the garden

smoking the world away

the toilet-seat and Nikita the folding bike

the bog-seat and Nikita the folding bike

Hence some questions, mostly for my Napier and community council colleagues:

  • Should I bring Nikita back to Scotland with me?
  • Should I keep on wearing kilts in Scotland?
    •  If so, with or without tent-slippers?

RIP Lena Elisabeth Ryan (née Kessler)

Today was mum’s funeral. She was cremated at Wyre Forest Crematorium, after a service wonderfully led by Reverend Dr David Southall. Click either graphic to see the order of service at full-size (PDF).

front and back of LER order of service inside of LER order of service

The photo on the front is from my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding. The photo on the back is from when we arranged for mum to drive a coach for one of her birthdays. She had let slip that she had always wanted to try this when taking her pupils on school trips.

Thanks to lockdown, there were only 10 mourners: Ian and Pamela (my brother and sister-in-law), Susan (my sister), Elly (my wife) and I, two very close neighbours, two other family friends and Stephanie Senter of Worcester Scout Active Support. We all look forward to a post-lockdown celebration of mum’s life, to which we can invite her friends from all around the world. Continue reading