Memories of BiCon 2010

London Docklands from the University of East London

BiCon 2010, the 28th annual bisexual conference/convention took place from August 26th – 30th at the University of East London, Docklands campus. It was combined with the 10th International Conference on Bisexuality, and the first international Bisexual Research Conference. About 450 people attended, from 28 countries!

I got up ridiculously early on Thursday 26th August in order to take the coach from Winchester to London leaving at 06:30. The journey was smooth and I was at UEL by 10am, in time to check in and drop off my suitcase in my accommodation.

The research conference was utterly brilliant, full credit to Meg Barker and Christina Richards for running it. Most of the talks were of exceptional quality, and i feel i learnt a lot. I enjoyed hearing about Helen Bowes-Catton’s research into how people perceive and visualise bisexual spaces. Kaye McLelland spoke about bisexuality in the works of Shakespeare, and i marvelled at how well my English teachers at school managed to hide it all from us!

Robyn Ochs at BiCon 2010

I was thoroughly inspired by a keynote talk from Robyn Ochs, a public speaker, writer, and long-standing bisexual activist. Robyn spoke of the importance of the impact that we make when we create space for people to be comfortably bisexual. I was touched by Robyn’s description of the reward when somebody tells us that we make a difference for them. I felt so proud at that moment that I helped to found Bi Wessex in Winchester: proud that people come along and gain something from the group, and that some of the members were there at BiCon.


Miguel Obradors Campos speaks at BiCon 2010

On Friday i bought Robyn’s book, Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World and attended the workshop where we heard from ten of the people who contributed to the book. They stood up and told us something about themselves and read an excerpt from the book. It gave such meaning to hear them speak personally, and when i reach their stories in the book, i will remember them. Their contributions will be particularly meaningful for me. I asked several of the contributors to write in my book, which they gladly did.


Sexual orientation self-definitions

I enjoyed hearing Heidi Bruins Green and Dr. Nicholas Payne speak about the results of a workplace survey on bisexuality. It was very interesting to hear the results analysed and validated from a mathematical perspective. Their results showed that bisexuality is not a phase on the way to something else, but a valid destination point, as are many other sexual orientations. They had some interesting data to show that happiness at work is directly correlated with LGBT support groups in the workplace, and anti-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Saturday’s discussion about words and phrases for bisexuality in other languages was intriguing. I shared my Esperanto knowledge about the etymology of the word ambaŭseksema and the positive phrase borrowed from shipping terminology navigi per vaporo aŭ velo (to navigate by steam or sail). We learned phrases, both positive and negative in German, Dutch, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Sri Lankan, Welsh and Hebrew. Everybody contributed something, and the results will be published … somewhere.

Knitting a bi pride bracelet

I knitted a bi pride bracelet in the amazing craft room, and then on saturday afternoon i took some time out to visit Central London. I went to Covent Garden to visit the new Apple store (the biggest in the world) and enjoyed spending time by myself.

Saturday evening was the BiCon ceilidh which i enjoyed immensely. When it comes to dancing, i really like being told what to do! :) I made a new friend that night, somebody who i feel could become a very good friend. We danced together a lot and had some lovely conversations. Later on the music became too loud but i joined the Corridor Club upstairs where it was quieter and i enjoyed chatting to more people. We were actually the last to leave because we didn’t realise when the music had stopped and everyone downstairs had left!

Sunday was the disastrous “Bisexuality in Science-Fiction & The Future” workshop. It was marred by the speaker being late, a church group being in the room we were supposed to use, the laptop being broken, the projector refusing to work, and the speaker’s corny sense of humour which did not go down particularly well at 10am. I gave up and left after about ten minutes of technology fail, and went and joined the church, which i actually really enjoyed! Those who stayed said it only got worse, and by half way through several of them had started their own alternative science-fiction workshop out in the atrium!

The highlight of Sunday was “Smutty Storytelling” which was very well attended, and the storytellers did not disappoint! The stories were well written, and delivered with humour and enthusiasm! There were cheers and a standing ovation by the end! I sat with my new-found friend and mentioned that I had “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” on DVD, which we watched later that evening.

Monday morning seemed to go quite slowly. Things were winding down but there were still a few workshops left. I went to one on sensual play, which was well facilitated, and led to discussions of how we might turn the results into an amusing website! Later i went to have my photo taken professionally, so that hopefully i will appear again on the front cover of Bi Community News and maybe in other publications about bisexuality.

Latimer "the buck" and a lion from BiCon 2008 share a hug

Before i knew it, it was closing plenary. Awards and thanks were given, we celebrated the success of this BiCon, and met the team of BiCon 2011 which will be in Leicester from September 1st – 4th. Registration is already open!

The bi community is amazing. So totally inclusive and unquestioning. I am so happy that i went, I am sad that it’s over, but writing this is my therapy: recording my happy memories and celebrating the joys of the last few days.

Thanks so very much to the BiCon 2010 organising team – you did an incredible job!

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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

Mike Torr review in the Southern Daily Echo

A friend of mine who i met through geohashing and geocaching is a talented musician composer who has just started publishing music via Amazing Tunes and i am hoping will soon be played on Amazing Radio. I am greatly encouraged in this hope now that Mike has been discovered by Xan Phillips who features artists on Amazing Radio in the “Xan Down South” sessions. Here is an article from today’s Southern Daily Echo. Mike has scanned the picture here: Mike Torr in the Southern Daily Echo but since the resolution is poor, i have transcribed it:

IT was June 2007 when I first played Southampton composer Mike Torr’s music on the radio.

Tiny Lights was the track and it featured a staccato beat overlaid with a calming voice from a TV documentary saying: “look into the night sky: billions of tiny lights.”

Great stuff!

So I was delighted to discover his track, Euphoria had charted at amazingtunes.com, the website that powers Amazing Radio.

It features a sax solo by Chris Alpiar, a film composer in the US, who Mike’s never met, they just used the Internet to transfer each other’s music.

Naturally Mike’s delighted to be a hit: “It feels unexpected and frankly brilliant to be in the charts!” he told me. “I didn’t necessarily expect any public success, but of course it is gratifying that this project has found an appreciative audience!”

The album Collision took three years to complete and although a labour of love it forms just one strand of his output.

His main passion is film music and he’s recently teamed up with some Southampton directors on a couple of projects. “Working with other creative people with different skills is often very rewarding and I think a large feature film is the ultimate example of creative human co-operation.”

Both are documentaries in pre-production, one is about an Antarctic expedition documentary and the other enviromental.

Mike has some interesting theories about film music and we’ll be discussing that next week, but for now I suggest you discover his music at miketorr.com

Mike Torr can be found on AmazingTunes at amazingtunes.com/users/macronencer

A website in a day

Sometimes it’s excellent fun to work with somebody to produce a website in a day. With no requirement for ongoing support, just get it up and running, instant gratification. In a way, it says, “Look what we can do when we set our minds to it!”

New site for the Winchester Web Scene
winchesterwebscene.co.uk

Yesterday, @sydlawrence phoned me to ask if i’d like to help make a new site for the Winchester Web Scene. Without a second thought, i said, “DEFINITELY!” We got together at 3pm today at the Bridge Patisserie. We drank lots of coffee, went on to the Bishop on the Bridge, then went back to Syd’s house and ate pizza. We got the whole site designed, coded, integrating with Twitter, Flickr, Google Maps, Gravatar and Campaign Monitor for email subscriptions, with a blog plus comments, events list and RSS feeds … in about 5 hours.

It was nice that two Winchester web companies, Marmalade on Toast and Eden Development were able to combine talent to work on a fun social project together. The two of us had a great time making it!

The site gives a far greater prominence to the Winchester Web Scene than the old Ning site did. Still in its first few hours of existence, the site has already had 71 unique visitors. The future of the Winchester Web Scene is looking very bright!

The next event is a barbeque at the Hyde Tavern on the 6th July from 7pm. If you live near Winchester and are interested in anything to do with the web, you’re very welcome to come along! :)

What’s going on in aimee’s life?

I’m back! I have been away from the Internet for a week – a self-enforced leave of absence to try to avoid getting RSI. Happily to say, it seems to have worked – just typing as much as i need to at work, and having a rest in the evenings. I love programming and i love my job, so i really don’t want to injure myself.

I have been trying out another keyboard layout: Colemak. It has similar aims to Dvorak but, unlike Dvorak, they actually used a computer to help generate the layout! Also, unlike Dvorak, Colemak layout is fairly similar to Qwerty, possibly making it easier for Qwerty users to switch. It keeps Z, X, C and V in the same place, useful for the obvious keyboard shortcuts.

colemak.com – the website for the layout.
Colemak on a TypeMatrix EZ-Reach keyboard – made for my own reference, but i imagine others may come looking for it too. If you want it as a PDF, let me know.

Work has been fun lately – we’ve been trying out pair programming and i’m really enjoying it. I took a while to believe that it really is beneficial for two people to program together, but i’m coming round to the idea now. Especially when trouble-shooting – there is almost no break in the flow because the combination of two brains focussed on a problem means that we come up with the solution pretty quickly. Plus it’s also really good fun! :D I think the key is to have a separate pairing station set up with two keyboards and two mice plugged in. That gives a feeling of equality. With a little perseverance it soon starts to feel very natural to program together.

Social life has been fun too. The Spring weather is making me very happy. Church has been great, really enjoying it. In my week-of-no-internet i became totally hooked on Life On Mars – can’t wait to see the second series!

I leave you with something that i saw in a bookshop in Southampton yesterday – made me LOL ;-)

LOL

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!

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

What a nice afternoon!

I managed to drag myself away from my computers this afternoon and have a lovely time outside.

First i went to visit this space of land that the WinACC local food group are hoping to renovate and turn into a city farm. I got these two lovely ducks on camera … they thought i had food for them. No such luck, heh!

Mallard duck Mallard drake

I’ll go back again soon and take some more photos of the area of land. If we go ahead with the transformation, it’ll be really good to keep a photo blog! But today i didn’t stay long because i was off to visit some friends and see the Christmas market. It was the first weekend, so it was predictably extremely busy, but again such a lovely atmosphere. The bells of the cathedral were ringing, there was carol singing, the crafts on offer were so beautiful and creative. We had mince pies and mulled wine! :)

This is without a doubt my favourite picture of the day:

Christmas market hut

Is that not just beautiful? Here are some other pictures of gorgeous lovely Winchester today …

Christmas market Skating in Cathedral Close Busy christmas market Christmas market and the cathedral Christmas shopping in Winchester Christmas tree

There’s more on Flickr.

Lack of a plan

I am waiting for some inspiration to occur to me about what to do for the rest of the afternoon. I know i have some chores to do (don’t i always?!) but not too many today. I might watch The Bill which my sweetie kindly recorded for me in the week. I might work on the MyChores API a little bit … or i might just continue lying in bed. Blogging from my bed is the best thing, haha!

I went to church again this morning. It was perfectly fine. I met a few more people, including many of the musicians. I keep dropping hints that i’d like to join their band, but i haven’t yet spoken to the people i would need to in order to join! I felt very content this week, and happy to be at the church. I love it that there are so many South Africans at the church. They are friendly and kind … and i love their accents! I’m probably going to pick up a bit of Afrikaans if i keep on going!

Work was good this week. I did a good job and i knew it. There’s no doubt that the work i’m doing now is the hardest i’ve ever had to do. I’m not used to finding my job difficult. But hey, it’s so rewarding to overcome a challenge and know i did it really well. I feel proud of myself. It’s tiring, though. I had a lovely relaxing day yesterday, but i still feel like i need a bit more time to relax before going into another busy week of hard work.

Yesterday afternoon was spent with nyecamden who came to Winchester to meet me. We had a good time together. Visited the library to have a go on their wifi with our netbooks! :) Went to my favourite cafe, The Sanctuary for a delicious hot chocolate. We walked down to the cathedral green to idly pass the time. On the way we found several messages written in chalk on the pavement of The Square. I don’t know who started it, but they were interesting to read. Many of them began with “This is …” and contained recollections of Winchester and happy memories.

Adding to the chalk messages

I added to the messages, with “This is my favourite place to live”. It’s true, i love Winchester. Such a beautiful city, steeped in history and culture. I am very happy to live here.

Thank you Nye for the picture! :)

Glad to be home

It was a great final day of RailsConf. I think some of the best seminars were today. I was especially impressed by the Advanced RESTful Rails lecture. It really *was* advanced … i took loads of notes!

I had a really nice chat with Eleanor – it’s great to meet another female programmer who is as excited about Ruby as i am! We decided to skip a seminar and have a drink and chat on the comfy chairs downstairs. I hope we can meet again since Eleanor lives in London.

The ever-awesome Geoffrey Grosenbach called out to me at the end of the conference: “Aiii-meeee!! Would you like a PeepCode tshirt?!” I said i would, very much! It’s a really good fit, and beautiful shocking pink colour! I’m just delighted that Geoff knows who i am, after helping me with the AJAX tutorial on the first day! :) DHH also smiled to me a few times since our random meeting in the lift. I guess you get noticed, as a girl at RailsConf!

The journey home was good; it went smoothly. Credit where credit’s due, Heathrow Terminal 5 did not delay on getting our luggage to us. We had a taxi home which took me right to my door. I was in time for a lovely evening with my husband. :) I opened some cards and presents, ate some birthday cake (which my sweetheart had made) and drank some Bailey’s which i obtained at the duty free – i had some Euros left over to spend, haha!

I imagine i may feel a bit of a come-down tomorrow, but i’ll be around my colleagues and we’ll be chatting about the things we learned … probably investigating some of the JavaScript testing frameworks and maybe trying out some more Low Pro. So it’s all good! :)