Lest we forget

My friend Ken put together a couple of beautiful pictures in time for Remembrance Sunday today. Let us remember those who fought for their countries and the many people and animals who died at the hands of war.

Without them, the sun would’ve set, never again to rise for another tomorrow.

Photo credits: @Aviationprints.
Check out his beautiful photography and digital art on photo4me.com/ken

 

Look what the cat threw up!

Ladies and gentlemen! I have returned!

After all this time I’ve finally come round to writing again. Unfortunately I’ve been suppressed in a cage of depression, and only now have I had the strength to stand up and start moving again (albeit very wobbly steps!). My apologies to you all.

And so my blog will once again become active. But what’s in store for you?

I have a few ideas at the moment for blog posts, including my Halloween costume, my opinions on feminism, and which anime I choose between Code Geass and Death Note. Of course, there will also be some stories. However I will also be wanting some requests from you guys. Give me writing prompts or subjects you want my opinions on, and hopefully I will be back on my fingertips in no time.

I’ve also been doing a bit of art as of late, which I have thoroughly missed doing. Again, if you have anything you want me to try and draw, feel free to let me know and I’ll see what I can do. I’m currently working on drawing a platypus, which is driving me insane!

Plants and insects in the style of Salvador Dali

Eye see you!

“Anime bullshit” as one housemate describes it

I’m hoping that this time I will be able to keep this blog up to date and just stay motivated and productive. So watch this space, and bear with me.

In the meantime, keep smiling!

Claire

A Change of Lent

In Britain, Lent is a big deal that the majority of people – Christian or otherwise – still do before Easter. I don’t know if other countries do Lent (I only just found out today that a lot of Christian countries don’t), but for us it’s still very much a tradition.

For years I have given up indulgences such as chocolate and alcohol for Lent, but this year I wanted a new challenge. So I was going to give up forks and spoons and use chopsticks instead.

I know, I’m crazy.

Then a friend told me that that was dumb and suggested that I give up hugs instead (I am very much a hugger). But then I felt like I was offending other friends by denying them hugs, and it’s pretty darn awkward just shaking hands with them!

Which is when one genius friend told me today that instead of losing something for Lent, he tries to gain something from it instead, and every day of Lent he will try something new.

So that’s it. From now on, every Lent I am going to try to learn – or start to learn – something new. And this year it’s going to be my British Sign Language Level 1. I started learning BSL Level 1 back in Sixth Form until my teacher had to leave, so this will make sure that all those lunch times don’t go to waste. I’ve signed up for the BSL online course, and considering it’s costing me £19.99, it will give me that extra motivation to stick to it.

I haven’t properly looked at how much content Level 1 covers, but for now I’m going to either be realistic or really unrealistic when I say that I hope to have covered two of the three modules by the end of Lent. Wish me luck!

Do you guys do Lent? What are you giving up this year? Or are you doing things a little differently too?

Keep smiling!

Claire

Time of Your Life (5 years since Sian died)

Five years ago today my friends and I learned that a wonderful girl in our year – Sian Butcher – had lost her fight with cancer and had passed away at just 14 years of age. She was our friend, and about the kindest person I’ve ever met. She was there for me when I felt like I had no one, and when people were horrible to her she just seemed to wave away their insults like they were nothing. She cared for anyone who needed someone, more often than not with some sort of funny remark or joke at hand, and she was simply the last person in our school who should have been dealt the hand she was. It’s something that still gets to me even now.

I feel a whole cocktail of different emotions when I think of Sian. I feel sad because she was so young when she found out she had cancer, and far too young to die. I still feel the same anger I felt when she told me about the small minority of people at our school who laughed and jeered, “Sian’s got cancer in her arse!” like cancer is just some big joke that can be removed as easily as an ingrown hair or a mole.

But most of all I feel a whole lot of guilt and regret because I wasn’t as good a friend as she deserved.

That’s the thing about Sian. She was smart, caring, funny, and had a calm aura about her. But she was also really under-appreciated, and I still hate myself for the fact that I was one of many who didn’t appreciate her as much as we should have. I don’t know why I was that way. Neither of us were popular, nor did we care about getting in with that sort of crowd. We could’ve been more than just friends through Maths class and catching up because of the odd bumping-into-one-another near the IT block. We could’ve been the best of friends if I hadn’t been so…I don’t know. Maybe it’s all in my head and it’s just the way things panned out, but there’ll always be a part of me that will think, “What if I’d made more of an effort with her?”

I remember a few months before she died she came to visit us all at school. It had been over a year since most of us had seen her. My friends and I were in the lunch hall when a girl in our year came bursting in telling us that Sian was on the middle yard. I remember leaving all my things and racing off to find her in her wheelchair, surrounded by a crowd of teachers and pupils. She’d had to have one of her legs amputated, but she was more pissed off that she’d had to lose her long hair due to chemotherapy – typical Sian.

I thought I was getting a second chance to be a friend she deserved.

I’d given her my number and we were keeping in touch after that. We’d made plans for me to visit her and I’d bought her a pair of fingerless gloves that matched a skull bandanna she’d gotten from one of the teachers the day she came in. We’d been catching up in a classroom and she tied that one around her head and the other one – a star print bandanna – around her remaining leg, saying something about how it could be the latest fashion. I had made a silent pact there and then to stop being a sort-of-there friend and show her how loved she was, and how appreciated she was.

I received a text from her saying she was too unwell for me to visit, and a month or so later she was gone. I took her gloves to her funeral and placed them on her grave with a letter to her and her family.

What’s comforting to know is that she was Sian right to the very end. Her coffin was biodegradable (she always did love nature) with a design of dinosaurs in the jungle, and her grave is marked with a wooden cross, surrounded by windmills and fairies and other things that people have put there that remind them of her. It’s the most beautiful thing to stand out in the graveyard, yet also the most heart wrenching.

Her death hit us all really hard; I know that even those who had bullied her or had even just once said something cruel to her regretted it probably still do now. Our school have a bench and a bird feeder on the grounds as a lasting memorial for her, which I think she would’ve loved. A good friend of hers at school started a Facebook group for all who knew her so that we can post messages, photos and memories – just remember her. And every birthday, Christmas, New Year and…2nd March, the page is filled with loving messages to her, or the lyrics to one of her favourite songs: Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) by Green Day.

But I will always be haunted by the what ifs.

I know that Sian understands and forgives me for the silly, selfish little girl I was back in high school. But I want her and her family to know that although I didn’t bully her, and I was never cruel to her, I was still not good enough to her and I will always regret that. I know I can’t change the past, and I know I’m too late for Sian, but I hope I have proven – and will continue to prove – how sorry I am, and that I have changed so that I will never under-appreciate someone ever again.

And to my friends who read this: I don’t want pity, or reassurance that I was a good person in high school or that I’m a good person now or anything like that. I just want you to know that I love every single one of you with all my heart, and if you ever feel like I don’t appreciate you feel free to tell me. I don’t want anyone to feel like that ever again.

In the meantime, I will be listening to the song that was played at her funeral, and remembering the girl who I feel honoured to call my friend, and who deserved so much more from life and from us.

Rest in peace, Sian.

6th Feb: Apologies!

Exam season has taken over my life for the past month, hence why I haven’t been keeping up to date with this. But, it has now finally come to an end and I’m somewhat free to breathe and sleep. Ahh.

Except not so fast! For I wrote those words on the 21st January mere hours before we were due to be thrown into a world of doom and gloom: DESIGN.

Concept design

Why oh why, Design? Why do you hurt me so bad?

Everyone outside of my Engineering class gawks with amazement – and sometimes jealousy – when I tell them that for our design module we have to design and manufacture a wind turbine. Even when I tell them it’s only 400mm cubed maximum they still think it’s a fantastic group project to have. Don’t get me wrong, I was super excited when we were first given our task, but as it became more and more restricted – to the extent that we have to be able to build a structure able to withstand 10kg in the direction of the wind out of a single 1m x 0.5m x 0.7mm crappy aluminium sheet (trust me, 1050 series aluminium alloy sheet at that thickness is pretty damn useless) – I have found myself caring less and less for it. I was hoping for a project which would allow us to use our initiative more, but I guess this can be considered something to really challenge us…if it’s not completely impossible to do that is…which could well be the case.

A rough SolidWorks model of our turbine

Now it’s getting very close to the manufacturing stage – we start on Wednesday – and although I’m excited, I am really apprehensive about it because I don’t know how all the parts are going to be joined together, since one or two members of my team haven’t considered any of this while designing their part. I can only hope that the planning sheets I thrust in front of them at tomorrow’s meeting will slap them in the face and perhaps get at least one drop of brain juice flowing within their abnormally thick skulls.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of my team are great, especially my fellow structural engineer with whom I have had the pleasure to work with. However, we have found at times that a few of them can really drag their feet when we need important information from them to allow us to draw up an accurate technical drawing of the structure, and one wouldn’t bother turning up to meetings until the day of a deadline. It’s stressing me out a lot!

In any case, as I say, I am looking forward to getting back into the hands on side of Engineering. I went to visit the workshop last week to confer with one of the technicians there, and I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia. It’s been far too long! I had to stuff my itching hands in my pockets to prevent them from reaching for the nearby centre lathe!

The only problem with the manufacturing is a big’un: we’re not allowed to use the machinery. The technicians will do whatever work needs to be done on the machines, and we just wait around for them to do it. It sucks. This, on top of the stress of whether or not this structure is even going to conform to the specifications when it’s built, makes this project all the more flubbledubble tummyrotten crap.

Anyways, I don’t know when I’m going to be able to keep up to date with IBitThePiranha, what with design, the rest of my course, and my internship with Vulcan. Not to mention uni elections are coming up and my dear friend, Jay, is running for experience officer, so I’ll be helping on the campaign front for him.

I hope you guys can keep on smiling without me!

Claire

EDIT (20th February): I never got round to posting this for some reason, but here it is. Better late than never, right? Aha…

De-clutteration for the nation…well…me

It’s got to that time of year again when I’ve realised how much stuff I have that I don’t want or need, and so today I’ve been sorting everything out in my room of what to keep, what to bin and what to sell. I find the whole spring cleaning thing (although I’ve started a bit early this year for it to be called that) to be quite tedious, except comforting and exciting at the same time. Comforting because I’m de-cluttering my space and there’s just something stressful about having so much stuff that I don’t know where to put it even if I do have to eventually tidy my room for some reason. Then it’s exciting because it’s a chance to try and earn a little bit of money (and what with the state of the economy all of us are dying to make a bit of money), and of course it’s tedious because of the whole sorting through your belongings, having to part with some stuff you’ve become attached to because of those damned Toy Story movies, and then listing everything on eBay and buying envelopes etc for postage and packaging…it’s just a lot of effort at times. Though it’ll be worth it if I can get a bit of money for it!

I’ve put a small batch of items on eBay to sell now, and I’ll be adding some more tomorrow. Feel free to check the ones out already by clicking here if you fancy having a gander. You’ll be helping me a lot, and you might find something worth buying, though I’m not making any promises!


Have any of you started sorting through your belongings yet, or is it just me? I know it’s probably just me, but oh well! Keep smiling!



Claire


Twitter: @IBitThePiranha

Things I hate about Christmas

So it’s all done and dusted for another year. Christmas 2013 has been put to bed and we’re just left with the leftover chocolate, booze (if you haven’t already finished it all), and the last few days to come up with New Year’s resolutions that we’ll stick to for all of twenty four hours, if that. So now that the dust has somewhat settled, I can be honest and tell you all the reasons why Christmas goddamn well sucks while cradling my box of Maltesers.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas. But there are plenty of things that dull the sleigh bells if you ask me.

1) Christmas Shopping
I’m not even getting onto the whole “Crap, what can I get what’s-his-face for Christmas?” with this one yet; that can have a point all to itself. What I’m talking about is the shopping. I hate shopping any time of the year because of all the people, but Christmas shopping is a whole different kettle of fish. There are too many damned people on this planet, so for everyone to be shopping – stressy Christmas shopping – all at the same time…it’s chaos. And I really cannot stand it. I usually try and get my Christmas shopping done by about October, but this year I’ve just been too busy with deadlines and I ended up in the wave of horror. They’re getting in your way; you’re getting in their way. You’re apologising and excusing yourself, and they’re huffing at you because you’re the “ignorant youth of today”. I could go on and on about how the so-called adults can be just as rude, if not more so, but that would bore you all to tears. And me.

2) Education
Who the hell came up with the bright idea of high school/college/university getting more intense as Christmas nears? I want to slap them about with a wet fish. Come December 1st, you can always be sure that my friends and I will share a look and a common thought: “Oh bugger.” I miss my primary school years where I could be genuinely excited about Christmas because homework was this thing that we hardly ever faced, and when we did it was to read this ten-page book, or learn the three times table. From as soon as you leave high school, you find yourself to be less like this:

 photo Christmas_zps262c6f7c.gif

…and more like this:

 photo Deadlines_zpsf6c68a1d.gif
It’s depressing as fudge. Do you know how many all nighters I’ve pulled already this academic year?
And yes, it took me hours to do these animations because I kept getting distracted by how much revision I have to do!
Yes, that’s another thing! You can’t even breathe a sigh of relief once you handed in that last assignment of the year because as soon as you get back to university come January, you are smashed in the face by a thousand hammers known as EXAMS. It’s like, “Hey, you’ve all worked so hard, so enjoy your Christmas break…NOT! You have exams the week term starts – byyyyyye! Mwahahahaha…”
Butt trumpets…
3) “What do you want for Christmas?”
As you get older, you have to really wrack your brains to come up with an decent answer to that question. When you’re five-years-old you have a list that reaches the floor with toys and rubbish you would use for ten minutes and then dump under your bed to collect dust. But when you get to about fourteen, it all becomes this stressful question that you dread to ask and dread to be asked. Everyone’s stressing out because it would make Christmas shopping a heck of a lot easier if we all knew what to get one another, but the problem is we don’t know what we want for Christmas. It’s a vicious cycle.
Just give me money! I can put it in the bank and use it towards my rent!
4) Some friends
Not all friends.
So the situation follows on from the last point: you don’t know what to get your friends, they don’t know what to get you. You’ve been round all the shops painfully searching for THE present, and you’re so proud because, gawsh – they’re gonna love it! You’re sure of it! …Well, as sure as you can be.
And then you open the present they’ve gotten you. They’ve known you for years, and they’ve bought you something tacky you wouldn’t be caught dead with. A few plastic bracelets, or a pair of white socks with hearts on them. Have they given you the wrong present? I mean, these socks are size 13 for goodness’ sake! Nope, that’s your name on the tag. You’ve been screwed over.
There’s also when you’ve put in all that effort into getting a pricey present for a friend you don’t see very often, and they open it in front of you, and that look of disdain comes onto their face. “Oh, I already have one of these,” they say. Oh, well rats, I wish I’d wrapped up that bit of roadkill I found on Newton Road instead. At least then that look you gave me would’ve been worth it.
Christmas really makes you wonder who your friends are.
5) Wrapping presents
I hate wrapping presents. Some people are really good at wrapping presents, then others are like me. I still wrap like a child. ‘Nuff said. It’s just awful.
6) The weather
Snow, wind, rain…I just hate it all. And I live in England, which means that for all but two weeks of the year we have just that. It’s like, “Surprise! Rain!” except not surprise at all because this is the United Kingdom for goodness’ sake! “Okay we’ll stop the rain now…and give you hail! Yay!”
I hate the cold so much.
7) Washing up
Now, the part I look forward to most about Christmas is the food. Golly, tea around Christmas time is like… You eat like a king. You’re more stuffed than the turkey! I love it!
What I hate, though, is the amount of washing up that needs to be done afterwards. It’s a nightmare. I hate washing up, but at Christmas there’s just so much more of it! Washing up will be the death of me, unless I can afford a dishwasher before that day of doom.
And that’s about it. All the things I hate about Christmas. I actually don’t know how people survive December. But despite all the bad things, there are a heck of a lot of good things that make Christmas not only the most stressful of holidays, but also the best.
So what do you guys hate about Christmas? Let me know!
Oh, and keep smiling!
Claire

Belated Christmas Wishes!

I hope you all had a wonderful day! Did you all get everything you wanted?

I’m a very happy bunny – my mum and brother bought me a toolbox and socket set. Who needs the Doctor when you have the Engineer?

But seriously, what did you guys think of the Doctor Who Christmas special? Personally I felt it was really poorly written, although the ending was rather beautiful. But ever since Matt Smith came aboard the TARDIS, I feel like the writing has fallen to…well…shit. Some of the River Song moments have been quite good, and I quite like Clara, but overall it’s just not up to the usual top notch I’ve been used to with Doctor Who. Or is it just me who feels like this?

Away from Doctor Who, I hope you’re all having a wondering time with family and friends, and I’m looking forward to seeing you all in the new year! 2013 has been a good one; bring on 2014 as far as I’m concerned!

Keep smiling!

Claire

I can’t get out of bed!

It’s time of year again where I have loads of deadlines to meet before I finish the semester for Christmas in two weeks’ time, and on top of that I also have to apply for industrial placements for next year. Yet a relationship is getting in my way. My relationship with my bed.

It’s 14:10 and I am still in the sack, feeling disgusted with myself but unable to leave the warm covers and face the day…and pile of work I have to do. My laptop, instead of sitting on my desk, is sprawled upon my lap, and my pillows are bunched up behind my neck so that I can see the screen. I’m acting like a slob, and it’s bloody gross.

How is one supposed to leave this sanctuary and force one’s self to make each and every day a productive one, when all one wants to do is take a break now as opposed to in two weeks’ time?

To be fair, I blame my bed for being so damned comfortable!