Sunday, October 3, 2021

Hi there. Already thinking about Christmas

I want to make a wind up toy where when you turn a crank, the sleigh and reindeer rock up and down as if surfing the wind and clouds.

I worked out the basics here.
And this is where I am today.

I used the paper to measure how much room I will need for the base. More than  two feet! It is a big prototype!

And what would it look like with a cute dinosaur in Rudolph's position?

I can't recall what the schematic calls for, but I will use a 2X4 for the base, straightened and re-curled paperclips to hold the crank shaft and the crankshaft itself will be a straightened and refolded coat hanger.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Still alive and thinking about creativity

 Although the pandemic is ongoing, I have been busy at work, even managing some creative activities. I have on occasion been wildly creative and also lucky with my creating but mostly just doing my job.

Still, here is an interesting article about curiosity. 5 Dimensions of curiosity.

This sounds a little like how my own blog started but in a more serious way:

For over 20 years, I have been studying curiosity. I didn't plan to be a curiosity researcher. 

The following five categories are well explained at the link - I have removed the explanations to encourage your reading the original material:

1. Joyous Exploration. 

2. Deprivation Sensitivity. 

3. Stress Tolerance. 

4. Social Curiosity. 

5. Thrill Seeking.

4 types of curious people (again, details removed):

1. The Fascinated:

2. Problem Solvers: 

3. Empathizers: 

4. Avoiders: 


We found overt social curiosity to be linked to healthy psychological outcomes including open-mindedness, extraversionagreeableness, low negative emotionality, interpersonal competencies, and low levels of loneliness. With covert social curiosity, information is gathered by surreptitious routes such as gossiping, snooping, spying, and other indirect means of discovering what other people are like. Covert social curiosity was linked to much less adaptive psychological outcomes such as a motivation to avoid errors and mistakes in the workplace, and a tendency to complain to friends, family, and co-workers.

The discussion here on curiosity is also interesting.

Via Kottke.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Fighting CoVID at Work

At least playing at fighting CoVID anyway.
First, a Christmas craft, a way to scent drawers or closets. The result looked surprising like abstract images of the virus.

And that led eventually to adapting a game to play at beating up the virus.

For recreationists, this is a game I adapted for Long Term Care Residents. Some key points here are the limited mobility of my residents and reducing the amount of work I need to put into actually running the activity. So as my pictures show, the game is called Balloon Tennis and the residents are in a circle around a balloon tethered to the ceiling. They smash at it and it never travels fast enough to harm anyone and never needs to be picked up by me when it goes over the shoulder of a player. The balloon has a little water in it to give a little more weight.

So first I wrote "CoVID" on the balloon and glued a few 'spike proteins'.

I hung it from the ceiling.

I was struck by the idea of performance art and if we were beating the virus, how would we do it? Well, by using Vaccines, Masks, Hand Washing and Social Distancing of course.

And so my residents beat the heck out of CoVID that day. And since we have been lucky and careful, we don't have actual cases of the disease at our Home to make the game morbid.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

a minor household repair - very creative!

A text only post as I didn't think to take pictures while working. 

 My mother has a brass bed frame and some of the bolts that hold it together are loose. I will write a little about my repairs if I think I can make them clear and interesting - enough to explain my thesis, anyway. That thesis being, unskilled repair people have to be very creative indeed to solve problems they didn't understand when they arrived at the problem. 

 One part of the challenge in describing the event is also the problem with being unskilled. When I discuss 'fasteners' it is because I have no idea what the name of the actual part is. I also don't know if this name is common knowledge and to save time I will just say 'fastener' rather than describe in detail - which would also be painstaking and awkward as I lack that vocabulary as well. 

 Here is what happened. My mom's brass bed frame was coming apart at the junctures where pipe met pipe. I found the whole thing was kept together by 'headless-threaded bolts' perhaps fifteen cm long. At one end, a decorative brass globe screwed on. But inside the pipe was a fastener that had been pushed back quite deep into the pipe, far beyond what the bolt could reach. My first thought, having lived in Asia for many years, was chopsticks. Some disposable chopsticks we had at hand had a lump at one end so I pushed the stick past the fastener and pushed up on the fastened while pulling back. I think I had some success but mostly I pushed the fastener as high as it could go and it stuck in place. Then I got needle nose pliers and they were now long enough so I could pull the fastener out, learn how it worked and replace it. I threaded it on the bolt and tried it in the hole.
 But now I couldn't remove it. These fasteners went in easily but were hard to pull out. 

Alright, let me try to describe them; they were basically domes with a hole in the centre. Huh; that was easier than I had thought. You put the dome in the pipe so it was concave to the opening and it went in fairly well but was hard to pull out.  

So now I have to push the bolt, already connected via the dome-fastener to a pipe, to the main bed frame. But of course the frame post was slightly twisted so I could not just push it through. I needed to twist the main post, slide the bolt through without knocking it deeper into the pipe and fit the decorative end on. Three hands were clearly needed. 
On my third try, holding the pipe in my hand and my fingers on the bolt, I used my other hand to twist the frame post and slide it on... and succeeded! I quickly put the decorative end on and was done!
 Time to look over the rest of the bed. It seems the bed frame was three inches longer than the mattress. and the angle-iron mattress-holding part of the frame was loose where it contacted the brass.
 I cut a two-by-four into three inch lengths, then cut gaps about an inch deep into them for the bolts holding the iron to brass fit. I tried to tighten the iron frame to the brass with my fingers.
I couldn't find a wrench head the right size. So I opened a ratchet set my father had given me nearly forty years ago and used it for the first time! Thanks, Dad. 
So I was able to tighten the parts of the frame together, tighten the brass piping, and even clean under this bed for what appeared to be the first time in months. 

 Someone who knew what they were doing would have taken ten minutes, I think. They might even had pushed the dome fasteners deeper and used fresh ones as that would probably have been better time/money efficient than salvaging the original ones. 

 My creative exploration and journey took over an hour and included, among other things, balancing a flashlight on my shoulder so that the light was a eye level to look down the pipe while also holding that pipe and probing it with a chopstick. 

 And I think this is the big lesson; naïve creative work can complete a job as well as experienced-step following work but it will take a lot longer.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Writer's workspaces

 I should be looking for a house these days. I do but not as consistently as someone who could be homeless, with his whole family, in a few months should.

I don't actually know if that is why I am now interested in these images of author's desks and offices. Is this some adjacent sort of procrastination? An on-topic concern for what I will/might/should be buying in soon?

Here they are. Maybe I will add some commentary as I add photos and such.

Twitter claims this was Ursula K Le Guin's desk and workspace. A friend replied to the Tweet suggesting that this wasn't her office.  I don't know.The image came from her home but perhaps was not her office? You can tour her house here.

I will be looking at more images from that tweet by Into the Forest Deep. Somehow at that Tweet, I found a fairly large image but when I selected 'image in new tab' the result was smaller. I have gone with that image here so if you want a slightly larger one, follow the Tweet link.

Le Quin passed away two years ago so the office does not look lived in but ready to sell. I see myself as having maybe a writing space indoors or a workshop that transitions from cerebral writing and planning and drawing to more physical creative work, mostly wood carving. I would be afraid to hold a block of wood in Le Guin's space even while I love the views.

From the same Tweet, Neil Gaiman's desk looks more used. I would not worry about dropping a piece of 8" X 8" in there.

Tolkien's desk is shown in that Tweet but it looks far too genteel for my liking. University dons in the UK at the time had standards, I guess. I don't care for Terry Pratchett's desk for a different kind of clutter than Gaiman's. This many screens seems, well, silly. 

I do like other aspects of the room but there is too much bare floorspace. I mean, it looks good and I might aspire to having my mess in one place only but to me, too much bare space means underusing the space.

In these tweets, Cherie Priest shows us her office. Here are two images that I shrunk slightly - to see them full size, follow the link:

I chose these two, from an excellent assortment, to show her desk and also her Murphy bed. I think that when the bed is up, there are dog beds on the floor. My own bed, which does not fold into the wall, often becomes a storage and semi-workspace. I don't know if hers does but it is available.

I like the look of this office, no idea whose, the image (again shrunk) is from a real estate company. but the wood is beautiful. I like the idea of having lots of windows but I typically have to close the blinds because the light is brighter than my computer screen.

This, less professionally arranged, is what I expect my office, at least the writing area, to look like. From.

It seems to ordinary for me. Facing a bookshelf with windows nearby would be great.
I want more of this From here:

Not quite so practical or physical but at lest some elements from this image. Probably not the firewood under my workspace but probably nearby.
Again, just a little too physical:

I life the idea of making a sort of police conspiracy board with images and text connected by yarn to help me see my stories. So I need so blank wall space I can temporarily tack up plans and brainstorming results.

I have started Inktober. I tried to draw the office I want.

What I mostly see, and already knew, is that fine detail is beyond me. I wanted a transition from more intellectual work on the left and more physical work on the right. So my computer and a poster of ideas and plans for my Nanowrimo 2020 book on the wall on the left. I didn't think I could draw a credible chair and also show stuff on the counter so no chair. We we move right, we see more drawers and shelves, a model ship, a window with a view of a tree and another empty space where I could sit close to the counter and use a saw or a drill. There is a cutting board for delicate cutting there and I am struck by how my calendar, cutting board and dark empty spaces all are similar in appearance in my drawing! There is also an island or a table or counter at the bottom of the image with my tea and camera on a tripod. It has a lot that I want but so much more detail was beyond me.

Oh, deliberately included in my photo at the top is the pencil work on easel paper where I planned my drawing.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Woodworking and designing a game for LTCH

I have seen shuffleboard made and proposed as a game for Long Term Care Homes. We had trouble finding one of reasonable price and I figured I could make one.

Even when not socially isolated by CoVID, I have always been willing to put in an hour or two outside of work on projects for work. With CoVID, I have been trapped with naught but work friends, work and family. Family is not bad but the same three people all day every day for months can become boring.

And so I have worked on making a set of eight discs and two push poles. The triangular markings on the floor I managed with masking tape. As an LTCH Enchantment Aide, I find masking tape to be as multipurpose and valuable as others find duct tape.

I had one pole finished but, even after drilling the hole first, the wood screw split the pusher in half. Dang it all! Happily, having the experience of making the first one made construction of the second one much faster.

After some basic sanding, I screwed the set on the right together far more carefully.

I probably overthought this. I made eight discs but I knew they were all only 'mostly' round and many had differently shaped bottoms. So I wanted us to be able to make different sets easily. We can play green vs blue, 1-4 vs 5-8, or A-D vs E-H. I congratulate the excellent Jordyndickson for the lettering. I made sorta round discs and she made perfect writing.

So we had two poles, one short and meant for wheelchairs and the other long for standing players, and eight discs. The discs didn't slide well so I used bee's wax and they slid much better.

Here's a handsome guy with the long pole.

Another angle on the pole and pusher (I am sure there is a better term).

In describing another recent project - the Graduation Ceremony - my employers used this phrasing:

the creative Team at The Villa Care Centre from doing something extra special for their Students. Life Enrichment Aide, Brian, along with the Residents
In this case, Jordyn is definitely part of the 'creative Team' but the residents were also involved. I was going to arrogantly put my name on the bottom of each disc but I have never been able to take more credit than I am due. So my projects will be "VC Creatives" to honour our Creative Team.

It turned out that the short pole was not very useful and we only used the long one.

Also, even with a waxed bottom the residents couldn't push the discs far enough. We experimented with other items!

The residents under my care enjoyed the game and the experimentation as did I. I think the game will work better on the other floor where there are more who are stronger.

I have shown two activities that require a lot, I mean, A LOT of preparation. And this one took a lot more effort than one game is worth. I did learn more about wood working so my education probably makes the prep valuable for that. And we may be able to use the game on my floor and elsewhere.

Still, I wanted to finish with an activity that I thought would last 20-30 minutes and has been a consistent two hour event. And with zero preparation, really. I first called it "bird watching" but only three birds flew by. It turns out that 'window watching' is a pretty good activity! We looked out the window and commented on what we saw and about the weather and more. It was a great form of comfort to have the excuse of looking out the window for any conversational lags.
I just wanted to end with a far easier to prep activity than the previous two,

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Another post on the limits of my creativity

Three projects to describe here

In the weeks leading up to Canada Day, I helped the residents of my Long Term Care Home make papier mache, uh, blobs. Most were just wrapping balloons with the paper soaking in flour water but one had some shape with four legs and a head. One failure here is that the residents often have limited mobility and could not do a lot. Mostly, we chatted while my coworker and I did the work. The residents did more of the painting afterward. The papier mache was touched up and finished by my coworker and I. I gotta say, my coworker did more, and better, painting than I. I got the job done while she got the job done well. Perhaps we complement each other.

I joked that I was going to fill the pinatas with the residents' medications but instead we went with more traditional fillings - sugar free chocolate and candy and hair clips. Okay, hair clips might not be traditional but, especially in this time of CoVID, nobody is coming in to cut the residents' hair and the clips are very useful.

Success and failure: Most of the work was done by staff rather than residents. I don't know if lower tables would help so the residents could be 'over' the activity rather than reaching forward to it.ergonomically, their positions in wheelchairs wasn't ideal. Residents were able to paint solid colours but due to palsy or other issues could not paint details well. We staff did a lot of touch up on the papier mache and then a lot of other work on them. I am still working on crafts that residents do the majority of the work. One success was in breaking them open on Canada Day. We hung two from the ceiling and gave the residents foam paddles. A well aimed blow would tear the pinata open but instead, basically a game of tetherball started with the residents batting the increasingly battered bee back and forth to each other. We will use some of the other papier mache creations and find some version of a tetherball that is heavy enough and also gentle enough when impacts occur.

The second activity in the image above was a 'graduation ceremony' for new hires at the LTC Home that missed their actual ceremonies due to CoVID. One coworker went out of her way to say she was sad that she missed her grad. So, Brian to the rescue!

I learned a few things about the young staff that missed their grads, called a few parents up and arranged a ceremony in the Home. A lot went well and a lot did not and this was a unique event; I do not expect a second chance to get it right. So that was my big problem with it; that I wasn't able to sort out all the issues and problems that could happen, that I didn't work it through in my head, or that I didn't have someone edit my ideas to point out possible problems.

Here's what happened.

I prepared the robes and everything else in secret, then sent my coworker away on an errand. In the ten minutes she was away, I cleaned out part of the dining room of all the tables and found enough residents awake to fill it up. I also hung grad decorations on the walls and prepared the computer and so on.  For clothing, I secretly changed from shorts and a Hawaiian shirt to good pants, a shirt and tie. Good stuff! First problem; in moving all those tables on the hottest day of the year to that point, I soaked through my shirt, leaving huge dark stains across my stomach and back.

We had mortarboard hats and 'grad' sashes for a previous activity and I got the grads into PPE robes in place of more traditional ones. I played Pomp and Circumstance and lead the graduates into the dining room. The ceremony went fairly well although my voice was far squeakier than I thought - listening to the recording was embarrassing. And I did not explain fully to the residents what was going on. Otherwise, it went very well. 
Very well on the third floor, that is! Our LTC Home has two floors of residents and we keep them the floors separate - even staff do not mix much. So once the third floor was done, I raced downstairs to do it again on the second. This was faster, clumsier and all round messier. In my defence, my manager who would have taken some of the tasks, was away unexpectedly.

So I say this was well thought out but not as well executed as I would like and I will not have a chance to repeat it.

The final activity I have been working on that has required creativity is shuffleboard. Not the table top version with small discs you slide across a waxed surface but the larger floor one where you push larger discs with a pole. Below are some of the discs I cut from a 1 X 8 and the launcher that will soon go on the end of a pole. The discs are not done and also not all that round but that gives a few residents a job to do this week. We have two fairly able bodied residents who would otherwise have access to out of doors but because of CoVID are trapped inside. They should be able to use sand paper and smooth out these discs. The cutting and shaping on my end took nearly two hours. This is in part due to not having the best or proper tools for the job. I don't want to give so much free labour to my job but in this case, again because of CoVID, I needed something to do aside from feel lonely. This work helped me and will help residents. Time well spent!