Riverford Pumpkin fun day

Yesterday i went with my uncle and cousins to visit Riverford Norton, the farm where most of the fruit and vegetables that we eat are grown. We get a box delivered most weeks, and they provide us with excellent quality local seasonal produce.

They have been trying to entice us to visit for years, and when i read that they were doing a pumpkin fun day, we decided to go. It was great to see the farm, and my cousins enjoyed carving pumpkins with hundreds of other kids.

So many pumpkins!

Carving the face

At the fun day they had plenty of food and drink to try and buy, as well as other craft and fun activities for the kids. There were people doing cooking demonstrations, which gave me a few ideas of things i want to try. Here they were cooking some beautiful Romanesco broccoli just with some garlic and chilli. It was delicious!

Cooking demonstrations

Cooked Romanesco

We bought a box of pumpkins, and got lots of free fruit to bring home too!

Goodies from Riverford

Today, inspired by yesterday’s fun day, i decided to carve my own pumpkin. I first got a lot of flesh and seeds out, that i will use for soup, pancakes and toasted pumpkin seeds!

Carving my own pumpkin

Whenever i carve a pumpkin i like to do it in honour of something i feel passionately about. This year i decided to make a tribute to Buffer! :)

Buffer pumpkin with a candle inside

I look forward to putting it on display tomorrow night! :)

Quick update on my coming out

I mentioned it on twitter, but for the benefit of those who didn’t see …

I traveled to visit my parents today. It was a bit of a surprise for them, heheh! I said i had something to tell them.

I sat down with my dad and stepmum and told them i am an atheist. I explained pretty much the entire contents of my letter that i wrote earlier (that was my preparation to decide what i wanted to say).

They took it extremely well. They listened calmly and kindly. They did not try to change my mind. The only cringeworthy bit was my dad saying, “Even if you don’t believe in God, God still believes in you!”

They both seemed to appreciate my honesty in telling them, and agreed that it’s better that i should admit my lack of belief, rather than try to force myself to believe something that doesn’t make sense to me.

I was even asked, “So what is humanism?” and i think i answered it well.

I have a new respect for my parents, and a sense of relief in myself. Suddenly being an atheist doesn’t seem like a big thing anymore. It’s not something i have to hide or feel ashamed of. It just a word that describes something about me.

I think this will change how i view my non-belief. It’s as if … previously i was christian by default and constantly fighting that: “No! No! I’m not a christian! I am an atheist!” Somehow i feel i can go forwards from this point accepting that my atheism is normal for me.

Thanks to everyone who has given me support and encouragement in this!

A letter to my dad

Dear Dad,

I like to think we’ve always been a pretty honest family; we tend to share our thoughts and feelings with each other and don’t keep much hidden. I’m not very good at keeping secrets; i prefer to talk about things, even if i know those things aren’t what you want to hear, or if those things could cause us pain.

I’ve been keeping a secret from you for a few years, and i don’t want to anymore. I think you might have guessed, or suspected. You know i don’t go to church anymore, and you know i love to learn about science. We don’t tend to talk a lot about religion anymore. Maybe i avoid the subject when it comes up, or maybe you don’t ask because you think you might not want to hear my answer.

I am an atheist. I don’t know for a fact that God doesn’t exist – for all i know maybe there is a God. I will happily say i don’t know. However, with the lack of any reasonable evidence i have concluded that, even though i don’t know for sure, i believe it’s unlikely. Hence i don’t believe in God. I certainly do not believe in a God who takes an ongoing interest in human life on planet Earth, a God who can be offended by what we do, a God who is perfect and omnipotent but is unable to forgive sin without sending a son to be brutally murdered.

The stories of Christianity stopped making sense to me long before i gave up my faith. I actually stopped believing in the devil years before i stopped believing in God. Looking back at them now, they seem like curious mystical stories, almost as unbelievable to me as any of the mythological stories of other religions. The only reason Christian stories have any resonance with me now is because i was brought up to believe them. I believed them because you did, and it was unfathomable to me that you could be wrong.

I want you to know that i am happy in my unbelief. I have found comfort in science, in fact, logic and reason. I have found explanations that do away with the need for a God to explain the things we can’t understand. God of the gaps has shrunk and become so small as the gaps have been replaced by science that i am happy to do away with God altogether. Even though there are things i still don’t know, like “What caused the big bang?” I am happy to say “I don’t know”. I don’t need to conclude that “God did it!” and anyway that would still leave me with further questions. If the universe needed a creator, and God was that creator, then God must have needed a creator too. You’ll tell me that God was outside of time and has always existed, but that’s not a good enough answer. I would rather stick to “I don’t know”.

There are things about church that i miss. I miss collective worship. I went back to church at one point for the music; i loved the feeling of singing together, and the moving effect of music. I tried to join the band there but they wouldn’t let me because they sensed my doubt.

I miss the feeling of community. As a Christian you automatically have friends who care for you and look out for you. I missed it so much that i created my own community: i started a Humanist group in Winchester. I have made good friends who meet on a monthly basis for tea and a chat. We keep in touch through email and text message, and on twitter. We meet up individually for coffee and have meals at each others houses sometimes. We recognise that morality doesn’t just come from religion, nor from law. I believe most human beings are basically good people automatically, capable of making up their own minds about what is right and wrong.

I guess i’m telling you this because i want you to be proud of me for who i am. I haven’t told you for so long because i am afraid of your disappointment. I told myself that you didn’t need to know, that it would just upset you, that it would cause you to waste your time praying for me to be converted back. But these were just excuses.

If your faith is as strong as i think it is, you will believe that i am going to end up in hell and it is your responsibility to do everything you can to save me. That’s hard, i know. I wish you could just let me take my own responsibility for that, but i know you can’t. I appreciate that you love me so much that you’ll want to save me from what you perceive as my certain doom. I can’t expect you not to try.

My personal belief is that when i die the most likely thing that happens is that i will simply cease to exist and have no consciousness. That doesn’t upset me at all, just as it doesn’t upset me that i had no consciousness before my birth. All it does is makes me more eager to enjoy this one life that by some remarkable fluke of probability i have the pleasure of experiencing. It leads me to want to make the world a better place than it currently is. I would love to leave this world better than i found it, and i know i only have a limited time in which to make my mark.

These days, i’m just being true to myself. I believe in things that make sense to me. I can’t force myself to believe there is a God and an afterlife when i think it’s very unlikely. I tried that for a while – i tried to take on trust the things that other people told me, but it didn’t work for long. In the end it just made my beliefs more shaky, so that once i doubted one thing, the rest just came tumbling down.

I love you and i respect you and i hope we remain close as a family, maybe becoming closer than before now that i have been able to be honest with you.

aimee xxx

don't you just love an awesomesauce #tupperwarebox

This weekend the world went mad for Tupperware Boxes.

Key output:

Some rather bizarre songs:

My dog’s favourite thing is my #tupperwarebox, it’s full of treats and nom, she behaves so well when it’s around, I think I’ll tie it on.

I’ve got a massive #tupperwarebox it’s got a special lid that clicks and locks

Come on and let’s rock! Everybody let’s rock! Everybody in the whole cell block was dancing to the #tupperwarebox!

How I love my little #tupperwarebox! You can a-store my cheese, you can a-sit on my knees, feels like a picnic right here at home…

A quiz: “Which #tupperwarebox would you be?”

A twitter retweeter bot: @tupperwarebot – the cool thing about this was i learnt how to use Yahoo Pipes and made a pipe that finds relevant tweets and manipulates the stream to become retweets with the hashtag #tupperwarebox

A Justin Bieber in a #tupperwarebox which gained the @tupperwarebot a lot of Justin Bieber fans!

Justin Bieber in a #tupperwarebox on Twitpic

This is actually quite disturbing when i found there is a rumour that Justin Bieber got stuck in a toy box at age 7 and suffers from claustrophobia. But anyway, the fans seem to like it. They appreciate the randomness of it and came up with the hashtag #justininatupperwarebox!

Finally, there is a Facebook group: Tupperware Box! If you are a fan of Tupperware and/or pure random nonsense, please don’t hesitate to join! :D

FB.init(“f76c8ae933a8204f4a989f77369fa340”);

Tupperware Box on Facebook

Holidays!

So my epic holiday is nearly over … i go back to work tomorrow after more than 3 weeks away. I actually can’t wait to get back! I so enjoy the work that i do, and i appreciate the structure of knowing what is going to happen each day.

Here is my holiday summary:

  • A few days at home relaxing and getting ready
  • Four days in Germany
  • A week in De Panne, on the North coast of Belgium over Christmas
  • Back home and time with family and friends
  • Dealing with horrible damp mouldy walls that got really bad when we were away

For more details and photographs, read on … but beware of the mould pictures if they might squick you out!

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So long, 2008

Approximately a year ago, you may have wished me a happy 2008. If you did, thank you! I had a pretty awesome year!

Reading back in my blog, it feels like a long year. In fact, i noticed a stark contrast between the two halves of the year, pivoting on the moment i got my new job. I was amazed by how much of a difference it made in my perception: the first half of the year feels much longer than a year ago, but everything since my new job feels very recent. Yet the two halves are separated by just one weekend! I also noticed how many more blog posts i made in the earlier half of the year compared to the latter.

So it’s new year’s eve again, the time when i get all retrospective and nostalgic. I actually quite like staying in on new year’s eve and blogging. Here is a summary of the year.

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Back home!

I’m home again, safe and sound. Today has been ein schöne Reisetag – we spent most of the day travelling, but it was nice weather. I will make a holiday picture post later, but for now i’m just delighted to be back on the Internet!

I fixed the MyChores problem in a matter of minutes. Fortunately i had backed up the user-uploaded pictures not too long ago, so in the end we only lost 32 pictures. I’ve also had some help from William, the owner of HostingRails who came up with a few suggestions as to what might have happened and how i can ensure that it won’t happen again.

I saw my dad and stepmum briefly this evening, and my lovely sibling Felix is staying over tonight. We will probably all be going to Harvest Church tomorrow, which both delights and excites me! We’re also having a big family get-together at my grandparents’ house tomorrow! Yay! :)

I have had a nice meal, done the washing up, wiped the kitchen surfaces, tweeted on Twitter, and i’m slowly getting through 10 days worth of emails. Feeling a lovely sense of normality returning.

Remember i said my CouchDB on Rails series was being translated into Portuguese? It’s done, courtesy of Leonardo. Here are the links to the separate instalments: Tradução: CouchDB on Rails by Aimee. Awesome job, Leonardo!

At my parents' home

Just a quick post to say, hello, and celebrate the fact that i’m on my netbook at my parents’ home! :)

Predictably, they didn’t know the password for the wireless internet. I thought it would be written down on a piece of paper somewhere, but no, it’s worse than that … only my uncle in Yorkshire knows the password! Happily i managed to poach a network cable and use that. It’s nice to have my own machine, with my email and calendar, and internet preferences and keyboard and everything just the way i like it! :)

This has been a tough week at work, and i was feeling rather overwhelmed yesterday, but several things all came together nicely today. It was a good day. I’m also very happy and relieved to say that my brother, who has been very ill for some time, is significantly better now.

I’m going to bed in a minute … i’ve been given some Nytol sleeping tablets which will hopefully help me to sleep better. I’ve had a lot of nightmares and sleepwalking lately. I can feel the tablets kick in as i type this (or maybe that’s just psychological?!) … i think this is going to be a nice relaxing weekend.

A happy carnival weekend

I had a nice weekend away with my family in Essex. Yesterday some of us went to Burnham on Crouch for the centenary carnival. It was excellent – a really fun afternoon with fine weather, watching a wing walker, admiring the fancy dress, enjoying the atmosphere. My Felix looked amazing, dressed up in a stunning leopard costume with incredible face paint. We saw a beautiful sunset, had a good view of Jupiter and several stars – it was a lovely clear evening – and we enjoyed watching some of the carnival floats in the procession.

It was great to see the people who mean such a lot to me, and i’m glad we’re seeing more of each other now. It’s actually not that hard to get to Essex on a train; it’s quite convenient to go for a weekend, leaving straight from work on a Friday. I really felt i relaxed for the first time in a few weeks.

I got my parents set up with the Skype so we can have free phone calls, and they can call their friends in America. Very good, very good.