Saturday, 31 December 2016

2016; A Summary

I haven’t done a year summary blog for a long time. This year has been good, it’s been fun, it’s been scary, it’s been expensive, it’s been a whirlwind, it’s been all over the place, it’s been tight, it’s been depressing, it’s been a financial nightmare, it’s been stupid. It’s been lots of things and I’m glad it’s nearly over – I’m quite excited about what next year will bring.

This year I have:
-          Started giving blood regularly again
-          Joined the organ donor register
-          Joined the bone marrow register
-          Made 100 hats for premature babies
-          Owned a car for a year
-          Got rid of my dreadlocks after 7 years
-          Got a chainsaw licence
-          Got pesticide licence
-          Had to get my thumb stitched back together
-          Helped with the publication of three guides looking at the geology of building stones in Birmingham
-          Stood on the footplate of the Flying Scotsman

I also had [yet more] therapy to deal with my varying mental health conditions, cut horrible negative people out of my life, officially made it past the age that rockstars die (27), become an even bigger nerd, successfully ran some public engagement events (nerd), drove all the way to Scotland and back (only getting lost once), started doing geology roadtrips (nerd), made loads of things including a massive blanket which took 32 balls of yarn, and loads of other stuff.

I’ve seen a lot more of the UK thanks to my traineeship with the Wildlife Trust, learnt loads of new things and have quite enjoyed expanding my knowledge base to things that aren’t rocks (shocker I know). I’m glad that this year has happened and I’m very glad that it’s ending. It started with depression and a horrible realisation about my life, and it’s ending with depression and feeling like a massive knobhead, so not much has changed.

In terms of the goals I had for 2016, I have achieved six out of ten, which isn’t too bad. Goals for next year are gonna be mostly financial. My next major life goal is to be debt free by the time I’m 30, which is less than two years away. I currently feel like this is massively unattainable and the next couple of years are gonna be tight and depressing and full of overdraft charges & interest and unemployment and other such fun. I guess this is adulthood.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Geology Crochet

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Crochet is a fibre-craft that I taught myself a few years ago, when I dropped out of uni with a case of the mentals (read: depression, mental breakdown, leave of absence). I use crochet a lot to manage my mental health. It is great when I am anxious because it keeps my brain focused and my hands busy. The reason I have so many handmade blankets is because they are easy to make and take very little brain power, and is a great relaxation technique for a crazy brain.

In 2014, the Geological Society of London released a pattern to make a mini Mary Anning – and of course I just had to make her. Mary Anning is one of my ultimate Science Women™, and so I set to work. There is also a Darwin pattern available (I haven’t made him – yet).

I have also made a trilobite, and he has been called Malcolm. This trilo is my third or fourth attempt at the pattern, and I somehow managed to give him really evil eyes! This pattern came from Ravelry. There is another pattern available too but I haven't had much luck with it, I have not mastered front post double crochet yet!

Next up, is Nessie! I made this when I was signed off sick (with the mentals) last year. Nessie now lives in my window, with a paper cocktail umbrella behind an ear.

I made this dinosaur a long while ago, it is from a paid pattern I found on Etsy, and the legs and horns were fiddly, and I sewed its head on at a weird angle so it looks perpetually sad L     

Last up, the ammonite. I made this by reverse engineering – I couldn’t find a pattern I liked, but I found a pic I liked, so I used that. I started at the aperture end and got smaller, I think I did some maths to calculate how big I had to start it, then decreased my way along the tube. It is stitched in a coil, and then I made a circle to cover the end. I also have a smaller blue one made with embroidery thread hanging from the mirror in my car. There is also a pattern on Ravelry

Yes that is also a 3D printed trilobite on my dash.

Share your #geologycrochet pics with me on Twitter: @hammijam

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Barr Beacon & Pinfold Quarry

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This site is in Walsall, part of the north West Midlands in England. Here, the rocks are Triassic in age, and are aeolian sandstone. Features here include cross bedding, river channels, faulting, fining up, conglomerate layers, and wildlife features such as holes made by solitary bees. These rocks are around 250 million years old, and represent a time when Britain was a dry, sandy desert.

A shot of the rockface

I first visited this site in November 2016, with a friend from university. We had decided to go on a Black Country Geomooch, and we visited four sites of geological interest. The quarry at Barr Beacon is called Pinfold Quarry, and is part of the Black Country Geopark. It is site number 003. The rockface itself is a glorious rich red, the tell-tale sign of the presence of iron in the rock. Samples can easily be gathered from the floor. It is not wise to hammer the rock face as it is steep and liable to breaking. This exposure of sandstone forms part of the Birmingham Sandstone Ridge, which can be traced through Birmingham to the south. The University of Birmingham campus in Edgbaston sits atop this ridge, which is why it is higher than the surrounding student-ville of Selly Oak. This sandstone is also the main aquifer unit under Birmingham, but it is too polluted by past industry to be used as a source of water. Consequently, Birmingham’s drinking water comes from Wales.

Barr Beacon itself is one of the highest points around here; supposedly there is nothing between this point and the Ural Mountains of the same height. There is a monument at the top which houses a toposcope. This housing is made from Portland Stone, and fossils can be seen within the columns, slabs and steps. This stone is Jurassic in age, around 147 million years old. This stone is used extensively for buildings; a lot of central Birmingham and London is made with Portland Stone. There is a meadow area at this site, which has had enhancement works done by the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham & the Black Country.

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