woolymonkey: (wtf?)
Text from Spidermonkey says he came off his bike in the wet and 'apparently has a fractured hip'.  I tried to ring back but he is in a lecture!  (He also said he is OK, just needed the painkillers he took to uni with him - basic paracetamol and ibuprofen.)  Am not sure what to make of this. I know he's tough, but broken hip fixed with paracetamol and back to lectures the same day?!?!?!?

(We were with him until 5.30 yesterday so we can rule out the possibility that he spent the weekend having emergency surgery and only told me about it today.)

Waiting for him to call me back....

It's not broken.  Phew! Even a fracture in the sense of a crack or chip to the hip bone is very much a worst case scenario - with any luck he's just bruised and grazed.

It seems cycling in Cambridge doesn't prepare you for cycling around a very hilly campus in the wet.  He took a bend (slowly - thank heavens) and the bike tipped over.  Sensibly, he went straight to the health centre where a doctor looked at it.  He's been told he can do whatever he likes, even cycling or climbing, as long as it doesn't hurt too much.  He was back on his bike straight afterwards and only 10 mins late for his lecture!  It happened on his way back from handing in his maths homework.  There is no justice!

I have, of course, sent hugs and sympathy and dire warnings not to fall on it again and risk breaking it properly, and to go back to the doctor if it's not getting better.  But I think they would have sent him to Brighton for an x-ray if they thought there was anything to worry about.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Stress-inducing without actually being interesting...

This morning was spidermonkey's official assessment for Disabled Student Allowance.  Sounds as though it went well.  He will finally get software that is actually useful to him rather than being kindly told that he can use Word to write his Further Maths papers if that would be helpful. (It isn't.)  At last, DSA gives him access to funding and the expertise of someone who knows which e-pen is best for equations! (Of course, the govt have announced they will stop most of this for next year's uni starters...)  I've already linked to a petition about that.

Meanwhile, squirrelmonkey has come down with a virus just as his exams are starting.  There's only one exam this week, and he'll probably be well enough to dose up on ibuprofen and do his best.  Spoke to school exam officer who says that's the thing to do but she will also send a letter to the exam board to ask for special consideration, but first she needs a letter from the GP.  GP does not want to see patients with viruses who do not need treatment but squirrel can see the Common Ailments Nurse tomorrow and she can write the letter.  But first she needs a letter from the school to request the letter to the school.  School has gone very quiet....  Oh, and it'll cost us 16 quid.

I ought to be marking, but I'm going to watch Le Hobbit (yes, in French - surprisingly good dub) with Squirrel by way of A Little Light Revision...
woolymonkey: (keyboard)
I feel very strongly about this as it would mean no more funding for exactly the support Spidermonkey is looking forward to getting next year. (In fact, he's OK as the changes would come in for the year after him.) Please sign if you agree.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Here's what spidermonkey is doing every day at college.

It's chemistry project time.  His is something to do with crown ethers.  I have no idea what those are but they seem to go in for weird reactions that neither he nor his teacher had predicted.  Apparently this is not a problem.  Chem A level is one of the good ones: kids actually get marks for asking questions and thinking about stuff.  

The haircut

Mar. 4th, 2014 12:38 pm
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
If you missed it on facebook, here's Squirrel's new look.  (With Spider GCSE art and primary school Pokemon plate in background.)
woolymonkey: (keyboard)
It usually takes the media up to six months to catch up with what the teenagers are up to online, and then they get it wrong.  But this piece from the Indie really seems to nail what's had the boys giggling for the last 4 days: tens of thousands of people playing a simple video game at the same time with no effective way to communicate.
It is wonderful in its way watching the crowd decision-making and resultant lurching about.  Amazingly, they are getting more forwards than backwards with little or no trolling.  Pokémon players must be an exceptionally nice bunch.  I just hope someone somewhere is doing the social science and psychology analysis on all that data. Several new religions have arisen apparently.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Message from Cambridge Youth Opera (featuring Spider as bass chorus)...

If you are around the Grand Arcade this afternoon, we will be performing Amahl and the Night Visitors twice, sometime around 1pm and then again at 3pm. Please come and support your friends!
There is also a performance in St Augustine's Church on Richmond Rd on 08 December at 6pm. This will be a much calmer way to enjoy the whole show! There is no charge for this performance, though there will be a retiring collection at the end.
The small cast have done wonders in a very short time and it promises to be a lovely show.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Cream tea and Chinese stew at the marquisate at the weekend.  Lots of lovely people were there, including friendly furries.

Something for [livejournal.com profile] la_marquise_de_ to look at while she's in forn parts...

woolymonkey: (guitar chimp)
Another episode in the tragicomedy of Mr. Gove...

Squirrel has brought home a letter from Monkey Federation Academies TM.  That Maths GCSE he was going to take next month so he could get it over with and concentrate on Additional Maths?  Cancelled. Thanks to Gove's campaign to raise standards, 60 kids at MFA will now be learning less Maths rather than more.

Mr. Gove has ruled that only the first sitting of any subject GCSE can be counted towards a school's league table place.  So the school has decided not to risk early exams at all.  Better to wait until June, when they'll have had more Maths lessons, and bugger the Additional Maths since it's not a GCSE and doesn't get counted towards anything (apart from being massively helpful for Maths A Level next year).
Thing is, kids can sit GCSE as many times as they like and still keep the best result - it's just the school that has to stick with the first grade awarded. The conflict of interests is as obvious as it is unhelpful.  The school has made it clear they are pissed off but all they have to suggest is 'Write to your MP'.  Maths geek kids are talking about protests and lesson boycotts.  Maths geek parents have yet to react.  Personally, I'm planning to sigh a lot and have a hot bath.

Dear Mr. Gove,
Did you ever think that maybe the reason schools want multiple shots at the 'same' exam is because the marking and grading have become so erratic?  Might it help to make the system more predictable rather than less?  Maybe?  Or that it might be helpful to consult on new ideas for a minimum of 5 minutes before implementing them?  No, of course not.  Why would you?
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Have just found and ordered a set like the ones he had before from here.  These are what Action on Hearing Loss used to sell before they switched supplier.  A bit pricey due to ordering from US, but really not too bad as they do free international postage :)  So the problem is pretty much solved now though I'm always happy to gather knowledge for another time if anyone has suggestions, especially on feasibility of assembling custom headphones. If that something we could do ourselves with a bit of kit - Spider being good with wiring and hands?

Please can anyone help me buy or build something so Spider can listen to music happily?

Read more... )
Does anyone know of somewhere I could still buy the old version with a hook and a proper earbud that goes inside his ear?

Or would it be possible to modify the ones from Action by replacing the flat earpiece with an earbud from another set of headphones?

I'm willing to buy several headphones or pay extra for work as it means a lot to him. He loves music and he liked the old headset so much it almost made up for being deaf in one ear. Not having it any more is making him sad.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Remember when Spider won the Medical Research Art competition? If not, click the link to see the artwork and artist as they both looked in 2011, and an explanation of what it shows.

Today, we are taking the artwork back to the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, who have finished moving into their snazzy new, chromosome-shaped building and now have a place to display it.  So I took some last photos of it here with him, both looking older, but only the art looks more battered.  That will improve when the LMB replace the original cardboard box with a see-through black perspex one, though I can only wish them luck trying to hold the polystyrene balls, fishing line, cocktail sticks, wire, Early Learning Centre poster paint, etc. together.  'Mixed media' with a vengeance.  I particularly like the balls that he sprayed with solvent because the instructions said not to so they'd get all eaten away and icky.

The artist with his work.  NB print by grannymonkey in the background - multigenerational art!  Note also T-shirt evolution from Metallica to Spinal Tap, though the 2011 Metallica T-shirt is still worn, and probably would have been again if he'd known there'd be photos.

woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Cambridge Youth Opera presents The Magic Flute | Cambridge Junction

If this is half as good as last year's Dido it will be very good.  Monkey boys are in the chorus - and in the dragon.

We have tickets for Thursday with the grandmonkeys.  I wouldn't mind seeing it on two nights to keep someone company.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
A reminder please to take care when dropping off / picking up students by car. Radegund Road is especially busy at both ends of the school day and the cycle lanes and speed reducing measures provide hazards for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Monkey Federation Academies send out a lot of messages like this, especially since they renamed the English department as Communications and Media.  But if you've seen Radegund Road lately, you may thing this one is meant to say exactly what it does.


Apr. 19th, 2013 11:42 am
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
This is so spot on that I went to listen again and transcribe it.
One of the problems is that we have poured so much time into trying to make sure that children look as though they're achieving more that we've not been prepared to say how do children actually learn?  And one of the answers in that you have to enthuse them for their learning.  You can't make them think, as they so often do in school, "What I'm learning here isn't interesting.  I mustn't read around the subject in case I put the wrong answer in the exam.  The only thing that matters is getting the right test result."
Jenny Russell on Today this morning (2hrs 43 minutes in, if you want to hear the whole thing.)

This is exactly what we've seen with the monkey boys education at secondary school.  Sadly we're still seeing it with Science A Levels at sixth form.  It's not such a problem for squirrel because he has the kind of brain that is good at understanding and at exam technique.  Mugging up the definitions comes easily and doesn't waste much of his time.  For spider, who's dyslexic, it's a huge energy drain that takes time away from real learning, and puts him off further study.

I'm not saying all bright kids are harmed by this.  Squirrel can laugh at the notion that using the word, lexis, in an English answer get you bonus marks , write a thoughtful essay with the word dropped in for fun, and have time over to take a photo of his marked script with a red tick by lexis before the teacher has even seen the rest of the sentence.  The extra challenge of playing the system to score marks only adds to his enjoyment, because it's easy for him.

But it seems pretty clear we are doing education doubly wrong by teaching to tests that test the wrong things.

Science A level rant behind the cut )
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
New, better recording of squirrelmonkey's song, Years Don't Show, by Quantum Suicide.  You can hear the bass now.  Still with a stand-in drummer, but he knows the song this time.
woolymonkey: (guitar chimp)
Here is a Squirrel's band playing a song wot he wrote.  I had no I idea he and his friends were American.
(You may have to install soundcloud, which is harmless and free.)


Dec. 16th, 2012 01:16 pm
woolymonkey: (kitty hug)
What we planned to do today:
3 hours of Hobbit then lunch at Nando's.  Spider and his friends in one group on a bithday treat and the rest of us with grown up friends.  

What we are doing instead:
Lots of phone calls to cancel, followed by trip to the out-of-hours doctor who also thinks it may be appendicitis, but also isn't sure.  She gave him the option of going to Addenbrookes for a blood test or coming back home to see what happens next and promising to go straight to A&E or call an ambulance if it gets worse.  Since that is also what Addenbrookes would tell him to do if the test was negative, he's decided to come back and try to eat some lunch.  I just hope we don't end up in A&E with the late night festive drunks.

I liked the first plan better.  On the plus side, Picturehouse were great.  They refunded all the tickets and also the membership we paid for at the same time.   Yay Picturehouse!
(If anyone else is about to book, they also advised against seeing the Hobbit in 3D unless you can also see it at the faster frame rate.  They have 2D or 3D screenings, but at the traditional frame rate.)
woolymonkey: (guitar chimp)
Yesterday Spidermonkey cycled off to Long Road College with his beloved violin in his pannier.  I don't know why he put it in the pannier because he normally wears it on his back.  I think there was a problem with the straps.  Anyway, when he got as far as King's Parade, he noticed that the pannier was gone and so was the violin!

Cue several hours of Spider, Musique and Wooly all variously backtracking, searching, asking, phoning, wailing and gnashing teeth.  Until I phoned Cambridge Strings, the shop it came from. Someone called Rob had already contacted them about a violin he'd seen fall off a bike, that had one of their labels in the case.  It took a while to make contact, but Rob is a truly wonderful person who didn't even want a reward (though he got some champagne).  He just wanted to give the violin back to its owner.  Incredibly, the violin is absolutely fine.

We have no idea exactly what went wrong.  The panniers are normally brilliant.  They're not really big enough to hold a violin safely, but that doesn't explain it as the violin didn't fall out. We are going to get Spider a new case with better straps and be very, very, very careful.

Thank you Rob!  You are a wonderful person!

In other news, Squirrel is either rehearsing or performing Little Shop of Horrors until 10pm every night this week, so don't expect to see much of the monkey family before the weekend.
woolymonkey: (singe a la licorne)
Thanks to the 2nd antibiotics, I'm now recovered from both the kidney infection and the backlog of work that built up as a result.

So I can update you on my cats, and possibly even on my children...

Leicester is much perkier, indeed perky enough to be pretty fed up with his tiger cage.  He's taken to scritching the blankets into a pile and generally fidgeting around.  He still doesn't want to put weight on the bad leg, partly because it must be still sore, but mostly because the muscles are so wasted that it doesn't actually bear weight.  He has a full range of movement in it when he's just waving it in the air though, and he's allowed to come out of the cage as long as he sits on laps like a good kitty and doesn't try to run or jump, so we sit and do his leg excercises together.  Any day now the vet will give him the all clear to try a little very gentle standing and walking.

He and Humbug went through an odd spell where they would stand close together with all the body language saying 'We is friends' except that Humbug would hiss.  He'd still act friendly and Leicester wouldn't react, but Humbug would hiss quietly.  This has stopped now.  We think it was all about Humbug insisting that he gets to be Chief Cat now that he's doing all the work and Leicester is helpless.   Apparently Leicester agrees because he's started neatly burying his poo, something he wouldn't have been seen dead doing before: he always left it proudly on a mound of litter.  Sometimes Humbug would come and bury it for him.  But he says Humbug is only Acting Chief Cat.  It's a temporary arrangement.  Got that?

Spider is enjoying geeky A levels at Long Road and getting to work with real glass blowers for his Medical Research Council artwork.  (It's weird and complicated.).  He'll also be singing at West Road in the first part of this.  Come and listen if you think you're hard enough.  We'll all be there.

Squirrel has managed to get himself onto an extra GCSE course and also joined the band for the latest Monkey Federation Academies musical, Little Shop of Horrors.  He's the trumpet so you'll hear him. Even if you're not going to the show.
woolymonkey: (Default)
Thought I'd post this because the monkey family has been close to the sharp end and reports in the media don't seem to make things clear.  I have no personal axe to grind because Spider managed to pass even with all the problems this year, so he's alright Jack and off to do Science A-Levels.  (In fact, he did great.  Yay! Spider! \o/\o/\o/)  But what happened to others is still unfair. 

Behind a cut to spare those who don't have to care about British school exams... )


woolymonkey: (Default)

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