Dr. Who

New Year Update and Parenting a 6 year Old Tip of the Day – 16th January 2015

This is my 1st post of 2015! Happy New Year Everyone.

It has been a while since my last post so there may not be anyone out there. If there is then let me thank you for reading and let me assure you that there are many more posts on the way.

Before the Tips – What’s new in Kam’s world?

My wife gave birth to our second daughter 3 1/2 weeks ago so I have been composing a post with lots of tips for parents of newborn babies. We need all the help we can get and I thought it would be great to share the few tips we have discovered and uncovered beneath the pile of milk soaked muslin cloths.

Amongst all the chaos of dealing with the 2 kids, the hurricane of tea drinking visitors wishing to share the joy of our newborn with us, Christmas, and my sister having a baby just 2 weeks after our second daughter was born, I somehow managed to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special “Last Christmas” last week. I have also finished reading the Christmas edition of Doctor Who Magazine and I watched 2 classic Doctor Who serials (spoiler alert – Colony in Space is brilliant) between rocking my baby daughter to sleep and failing to be of any use when it came to helping my 6 year old daughter with her maths homework. I am working on Doctor Who blog posts in addition to the parenting ones too.

I also discovered the magic of cooking with coconut oil over the last few months, which has really helped calm down my IBS-D and as a side effect helped me lose over 1 stone of weight. Blog posts on this subject to follow.

The Tips – Space Books

Anyway, back to the theme of this short post. I will endeavour to post a useful tip related to the subjects I blog about here at Kamblog. Today’s tip is a Parenting one related to the love of science fact (as opposed to science fiction) that my fiction-hating 6 3/4 year old daughter has developed recently. My daughter refused to read or be read any fiction books with the exception of Mr.Men or Little Miss books, but she adores all things space themed.

These 2 books have been the most fun to read with her and are the best in terms of the right level of detail and ease of understanding.

See Inside Space – Usborne Flap Book

Official Link | Link on Amazon.co.uk

See Inside Space Usborne Flap Book

See Inside Space Usborne Flap Book

This is by far the best book about Space for kids that we have at home.

The Usborne See Inside Flap Book series, which covers lots of different subjects such as the Human Body, Castles, History, Nature and more, is a must for every parent of a children in Primary/ Elementary school.

This book, like all the other flap books, is full of useful information that even the adult readers will find informative. It is written in a really accessible, fun and humorous way that appeals to my daughter. She has now started to open the flaps and read the facts to me. This Book on Space is also full of facts about the Big Bang and the history of man’s fascination with space and space exploration. I find it’s open and honest style refreshing. For example on the Big Bang page it asks the reader How Do We Know and Who actually saw the Big Bang and is not afraid to tell us Nobody saw it and we really aren’t sure why it happened! Letting kids understand that science hasn’t answered every question we have and that’s OK is so empowering.

The illustrations are visually striking and although there is a lot of information in this book, the way it is presented is so clever that you and your child don’t feel bogged down or bored reading it.

If you only ever get one book about Space then this is the one I recommend. It’s has proven a useful aid to this science-fiction loving father when I watch Doctor Who and need to refresh my memory about certain space related facts. If my daughter can get over her dislike of fiction then hopefully this book will sow the seeds of curiosity and a fascination with space and time that might make her a Whovian one day (one can hope!)

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space

Official Link | Link on Amazon.co.uk

Little Kids First Big Book of SpaceThis book is clear, colourful, and up to date with modern space facts (many libraries still have books where Pluto is one of the “9 Planets in the Solar System”) such as Pluto being classified as a Dwarf Planet these days. My daughter loves it and we keep re-reading it, which is helpful as it tells you the correct way of pronouncing Dwarf Planets Ceres and Makemake, so I no longer embarrass myself as the amateur science geek that I in fact am. I highly recommend it. National Geographic also have a great Space themed sticker book that my sticker loving daughter can’t get enough of.

 

Bonus Tip – This is an activity book rather than a straight-forward fact book but it’s great nonetheless.

Super Space Sticker Activity Book (National Geographic Kids)

Official Link | Link on Amazon.co.uk

Kids Super Space Sticker Book (National Geographic)

Kids Super Space Sticker Book (National Geographic)

 

My daughter loves sticker books and this is great because in addition to stickers of stars, planets, aliens and more it also has drawing activities, maze, pattern and spelling games.

 

 

 

 

I hope that you found these Space Book recommendations useful and that you enjoyed the 1st post of a new year. With so much going on in the life of Kam I certainly have much more to blog about and share with the cybersphere.

Nightmare Under The Garden

Last night I had a strange dream.

I was in my garden at night, taking to my next door neighbour. I noticed a headstone in the corner of my garden. It was a brand new, clean, light grey stone, without any markings on it. A blank headstone. For some reason I was holding a shovel. I asked my neighbour if he knew anything about the sudden appearance of this worrying addition to my garden? He had no idea how it got there. He suggested I start digging to see what was under it. I started digging and after a short while a large hole appeared in front of the headstone.

Thing One and Thing Two

There was a large open bunker under my garden. I had dug into it. There were lots of strange people in there buzzing around and smiling wickedly. They looked like Thing one and Thing two from the Cat in the Hat children’s books by Dr. Seuss. They had orange jump suits on and were all pointing at me as they rushed around the bunker under my garden. They also seemed to be taking orders from someone else. Someone with a long dark shadow.

All I could see was the shadow, not the leader himself. The strange orange-suited creatures started shouting at me to “Jump! Jump!”. They wanted me to join them in the bunker. I could feel a chill running down my spine. I heard a familiar voice trying to call me from within the bunker, being drowned out by the horrid squealing creatures. It sounded like my father’s voice. He is turning 80 next Tuesday and I am paranoid that he is going to die soon. He’s pretty depressed and keeps talking about just wanting to die, but I have always wanted to be the one to save him. To try and give him back the desire to live and embrace life. I have always had a real Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker thing with my dad, with me trying to save him from himself. Was his voice asking me for help or was he the Dark Leader? Who knows.

It was dark outside and I knew there was some form of powerful evil down there, in the bunker under my garden. I didn’t want to go down there. I felt a force trying to pull me down into it. I shouted to my neighbour to help me. He ran and got some strong rope and threw it to me. I grabbed the rope and held on for dear life as he pulled me away form the hole in my garden by the headstone. The stronger he pulled the rope to save me the stronger the dark forces in the bunker pulled at me. I closed my eyes and used all my power to pull away form the darkness. I gathered all my energy and made one big jump away form the hole. I felt my face smash into the cold hard ground. I blanked out.

When I came to, I was in my hallway. There was a knock at the floor. All I could see was a tall, black shadow again. I checked that the chain was on the door. I franticly searched for my house keys to check that the locks had been activated. I saw visions of criminals with killer eyes at my door, desperate to get in and commit some sort of horror. I was full of anxiety and fear as I turned the key in the door lock to make sure the door stayed closed. the people outside started pushing at my front door. They were eager to get in. Something dark wanted to grab hold of me.

I heard the clock radio turn on. the music playing was the Calvin Harris Remix of Spectrum (Say My Name) by Florence and The Machine. I love that song and it empowered me enough to get out of bed.

What was that dream all about. It was some form of nightmare, playing on my real fear of burglars and having the safety of my home invaded. It felt like one of the Doctor Who serials I have been watching every day for the last few months. Strange alien creatures in an underground lair. Like Doctor Who and The Silurians (a great serial from season 7, Jon Pertwee’s 1st Season as the Doctor).

I had thought dreams were meant to be full of our unconscious desires, in order to keep us sleeping to keep enjoying the things we get to experience in dream-world but are denied us in the real world. This is because we need sleep to re-energise our bodies and mind, and dreams force us to take the time to switch off to allow the body to do its work. It’s sort of like defragmenting the hard drive of a computer, something we never bother to do until its too late. If we had our desires fulfilled every time we defragged a PC we would do it every night! Yet I have no desire to be sucked into a world of death and evil or attacked by burglars. Sure a lot of the unconscious fears and insecurities we bury deep inside our psyche come out in dreams. This just felt so powerful. I need to get round to reading The Interpretations of Dreams by Sigmund Freud.

I didn’t help that I have been fallen ill with an increasingly worsening cold that feels like it is a physical manifestation of how I feel psychologically/ mentally. I feel exhausted, burnt out, battered. I am not coping well with the fall-out from my sister’s decision to exclude me and the family from her wedding. From losing what I thought was a really close relationship, and had been at one time, for a long time. From realising that I have lost and am losing everything I used to rely on to keep me going in this harsh, cold, unjust world.

I wanted to sleep for longer to try and give my body more energy to fight the cold. My nightmare prevented that. Ironically sleep is one of the few things I still have that I can rely on to help me get through life. I also have blogging. Typing out my thoughts into this blog post has really helped. Blogging is really therapeutic for me. I am starting to get on board with the whole Blogging for Mental Health 2014 thing.

Anyway, on a positive note, no matter how bad real life gets, at least when I looked out into my garden there was no blank headstone and empty grave waiting to be filled.

Virtual Reality Doctor Who

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

Oculus Rift Virtual reality Headset

I’m supposed to be watching this PHP Web Development course. It is part of the exciting journey that I’m on, teaching myself computer programming and building my own private social network website. However its hard to concentrate when your 5 ¾ year old daughter and her 2 hyper-active school friends are downstairs screaming, dancing loudly to you tube videos on the Apple TV and crying every 5 minutes as they injure themselves on doors, floors, tables and each other. I thought removing all the non-foam toy swords from the lounge would help. I thought wrong. At least they won’t bend my Darth Vader toy Light Saber. It’s safely hidden in the loft.

So being surrounded by distractions, I thought I’d do what I haven’t done in a while. Take a break from coding and update my blog.

I haven’t posted much recently. This is not for want of things to say, or lack of things happening to me. On the contrary, far too much has happened in my life recently. Most of it has been unpleasant. Extremely thought provoking and insightful? Yes.  Sowing the seeds of emotional maturity and growth? Maybe. Painful and depressing? Definitely. Do I want to blog about it? It might help me, but I think not. My marital, financial and emotional wellbeing are pretty fragile at the moment. However, on the plus side, I have come across some cool things that distracted me, in a pleasant way, and I feel are worth sharing in the blogosphere.

1) On Writing:

I read this somewhere the other day. “A writer is anyone who has something to say and a burning desire to say it”. That’s me, except without the talent.

Creative writing has always been the main outlet for processing my thoughts and experiences. This is because my childhood home wasn’t somewhere where you were allowed to be open and honest about your thoughts and feelings. You were free to feel and say what you wanted, as long as it was exactly what my parents wanted you to feel and think. They were like this with each other, and fought violently all the time. It was a really tense and volatile atmosphere of fear, abuse and neglect, but the most important thing drilled into me was not to tell anyone about it. Especially not them. They are not good listeners, and are much better talkers, or lecturers to be frank. They overwhelmed me with years of constant verbal bombardments on how I should live my life (essentially for them) and why everything I seemed to think and feel was wrong.

They didn’t have blogs or even the World Web Web when I was growing up. The closest I got to the internet was the 1983 film WarGames. Watching Matthew Broderick connect to a noisy old school modem and take the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon was surfing for my generation. I did have pencils and paper though, courtesy of my dad’s stationary cupboard at work. I poured all my frustrations and dreams of escape and freedom into stories. I found creative writing more natural than writing a dairy or thought journal. I loved making up fictional protagonists, who had the same troubles as me, but ways of overcoming them unavailable to me. If only I was a super-hero with mind reading powers and a winning lottery ticket, then I could put all my plans to overcome my difficulties into action. In many ways I am still the same. I still love to write, but have no time to do it. I barely have enough time to fix the leaking garage roof or broken gutters pouring green moss filled rain into my rotting garage door.

There I go again, going off on a tangent. My blog posts are too long. I need to keep them short. It’s not easy when you have so much to say and no–one to say it to.

2) On Dr. Who:

Patrick Troughton is the most fantastic Dr. Who I have come across so far. I have still yet to watch any Dr. Who episodes with the 3rd Doctor (Jon Pertwee), 5th Doctor (Peter Davison) or 6th Doctor (Colin Baker), and I’m a big Matt Smith fan. However, having spent the last few weeks watching classic black and white Doctor Who episodes form the late 1960’s,with Patrick Troughton as the 2nd doctor, I have to say I am entranced. He has a much wider range of character traits and facets than William Hartnell’s 1st Doctor, much as I loved him. He brings to the role an eclectic mix of tomfoolery, eccentricity, humour, wit, genius, child-like curiosity, hand wringing and funny walks, which all suddenly collapse when he gets angry and show’s how much depth, courage and feeling he truly has. I’ve even grown to like his companion Jamie, whose lack of genius highlights the doctor’s superior cerebral powers, but who is at least loyal and caring. I’m not so convinced about wearing a kilt in Ice Age Britain or on a moon base though.

It’s a real shame many of the Troughton Who episodes are missing. The Enemy of the World, a serial previously missing for decades, and recently re-discovered and re-mastered, was amazing. His Mexican accent may have left a little to be desired, but Patrick Troughton’s slimy, smooth, evil genius dictator wannabe Salamander was a great performance, especially in contrast to the raggedy man, dishevelled doctor. Thanks to the marvellous Apple TV for enabling me to sit back and watch episode after episode without buying DVD boxsets I have no space for. And thanks again to my good friends Paul and James for starting their wonderful Cricket and Doctor Who podcast show last year. I’m still not a fan of cricket (I don’t have enough time to get into that too) but they have helped me rediscover my inner geek and find something legal that stimulates my neurons in an exciting way.

3) On Virtual reality:

Virtual reality may finally be coming to a home near you. I grew up on 1990’s sci-fi, from Star Trek The Next Generation’s Holodeck, to the virtual reality games machines used by Lister in classic British Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf. The closest I ever got to VR was watching a pre-James Bond Pierce Brosnan ponce about unconvincingly in The Lawnmower Man film, when my parents finally got cable TV. I was sold on the idea of Virtual Reality (especially as I hate mowing the lawn)and I’ve been waiting ever since.

Given what I mentioned above, about my inability to experience much freedom in real life, the idea of escaping in to a fantasy world of alien planets or tropical jungles all through the power of immersive virtual reality really appeals to me.

I’m not much of a computer gamer. I lack the time, fancy consoles or attention span. Even my daughter understands Lego StarWars on the Wii better than me. However hope may be at hand. I came across an article talking about something called the Oculus Rift. It is a virtual reality headset that was showcased at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. It looks amazing. I want one. Maybe someone can develop a Dr. Who virtual reality game where me and my friends board the Tardis and are whisked away by Patrick Troughton’s 2nd doctor, to fight hissing Ice Warriors from Mars using only his recorder (he didn’t have a sonic screwdriver in the serial, although I recently got a key-ring 11th doctor one if that would help).

4) On Twitter:

Life would be much simpler if I wasn’t interested in so many things, although it would be duller. Posting my Follow Fridays on Twitter today made me realise that I follow too many people and media outlets. The problem is who to cull? My main issue is that I am interested in far too many things. From science to history, art to socialism, music to comic books, virtual reality to web development, Dr. who to psychology, economics to the local traffic updates, food intolerance diets to computer programming, Irritable Bowel syndrome to Woody Allen Movies, my life is full of noise. Well that’s what my wife keeps calling it these days. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The problem is that too much noise can, and often does, overwhelm you. I can’t read everything I want to read. I’d love to explore and research all the random questions that pop up in my head, but I’m not in a financial position to do so. Anyway, the point is that the world is full of so much intellectual and cultural richness, even if I’m too poor to be able to devote my life to swimming in this pool of knowledge and ideas. If I could plug my brain directly into my twitter stream I am sure I’d never get bored or feel deflated. And I don’t even follow Justin Bieber.

Rediscovering Doctor Who

Kam with Tardis

Kam with Tardis

My head is spinning like the TARDIS when it hurtles through time and space.

I have just watched the first 4 series and the 4 2008-2010 specials from years 2005 to 2010 of the revived Doctor Who series in just 1 month. My mind is rattling with the paradoxes of time, space, time locks and the last great Time War.

I finished watching “The End of Time part 2” yesterday. This is the New Year’s Day 2010 Doctor Who special which ends with the 10th doctor, played by David Tennant, regenerating into the 11th doctor, Matt Smith, and the TARDIS blows up around him.

In a way my head feels like it might explode too. I feel like I have been on a Doctor Who marathon, which of course I have. When he starts running sometimes he never stops. I feel like that myself. I’ve started so I must keep on going. Immerse myself further and deeper into the magical and exciting world of the Doctor, and escape the brutal truth of everything I am running away from within me.

No one can run forever though. Well, maybe the Doctor can. He’s been doing it for 50 years and there’s no stopping him. He has 2 hearts, however, and I only have one. Plus I’m really unfit. All the dramatic tension of the Last of the Time Lord’s recent adventures have helped me run away from facing my own inner conflicts, just at a time when I needed a new form of escape, a new drug to immerse myself in. Yet how much drama, excitement, world saving and adrenalin flow can one take? I only have one heart, and it’s telling me to stop and take a break.

Now seems like a good time to do that. A pit stop on my Doctor Who marathon. The marvellous 10th Doctor, played with such a wide range of emotions and breadth by David Tennant, is no more. I’ll take a week off, recharge my batteries (even the TARDIS needs recharging now and again in the rift in Cardiff), and begin a new journey with the 11th incarnation of the Doctor.

I’m really excited to see what Matt Smith does with the character. I have heard really good things about him. It wasn’t easy avoiding watching or reading about the 50th anniversary special last month. I’m glad I did avoid watching it though. Everything in the world of Doctor Who is connected, and it makes sense to watch the episodes in order.

I loved and really got used to David Tennant’s 10th doctor. His sleek, geek chic, uber-cool, witty charm mixed with suppressed emotional turmoil, rage, ruthlessness and loneliness, all coated in a veneer of fun-loving, childlike curiosity and hyper-activity, kept me engaged with a character whose greatest selling point is you never really now him. He doesn’t believe in violence, refuses to carry a gun, yet leaves a trail of death and destruction behind him. He’s full of life and wonder, yet also has a depressive side to him. He is one of fiction’s richest characters, emotionally and psychologically.

Yet the last few episodes of series 4 and the specials pulled his character far too deep into his melancholic, bitter side. It was great to see this exposed, and see the arrogant side of him come out in “The Waters of Mars”, where he starts to feel he was not just a tragic survivor of the Time War but it’s righteous victor. However a whole series exploring this unresolved inner conflict, the conflict he seems to always be running away from, would have taken a lot of the light-hearted fun out of the show. Emotional depth in TV is always a good thing, but it needs to be balanced with jelly beanesque escapism too. In short, I’m glad a new Doctor awaits me when I begin series 5 next week.

Once I finish watching all the episodes of the new revived series, I plan to go back and watch the old ones from 1963 onwards. I already devoured the brilliant Genesis of the Daleks 6 part serial in one night, my first time watching Tom Baker as the Doctor, with his Jelly Babies, long Rainbow scarf and wide googly eyes confronting Davros, my favourite Doctor Who villain.

I’ve been jotting down reams of notes about my experience of rediscovering Doctor Who last month. How it has really impacted me and made me feel a wide range of emotions. I plan to write these up as blog posts, but they need to be split up and edited. This post is my attempt at keeping things simple and concise (never easy for me). I always have a lot to say, probably because as a child no one really listened to me, and Doctor Who makes me think about even more subjects and themes to explore.

It has been more than just a TV show for me. In many ways it has been my salvation during a really stressful period of my life. People take drugs to numb their senses, the inner pain, and I needed a drug to replace my love of food (having gone on an strict elimination diet to combat my IBS-D). Most people drug themselves, though they don’t think they’re being drugged, with religion, consumerism/ materialism, alcohol, food addiction, sex addiction, addiction to narcotic drugs, extreme sports or adrenalin junkies. There are many forms of escapism from reality, usually a mix of things, and high octane adventuring through time and space is the Doctor’s preferred way to bury painful feelings. I’m not religious, I ‘m trying to move away from consumerism, and food just seems to disagree with me. I don’t really drink, never agreed with drugs, so TV and films are my main drug of choice now. I’m too cautious and anxious to actually go on real life high octane adventures, so I live through fictional adventures that distract me from more painful feelings deep inside.

Sometimes something comes along just when you need it. Having quit many of my past vices and emotional crutches and with an increasingly stressful real life, I needed something to fill the void of escapism within me. To pull me away from facing the fire of my inner conflict, and being consumed by it. The Tardis must have heard my unconscious SOS call. It came into my life at the right time.

I really am getting addicted to the world of Doctor Who. I’ve started reading The Doctor Who magazine and collecting all my bookmarked Whovian links on a Doctor Who page on my website Razaweb.com. I even find myself walking around the house with the 4 beats of the sound of drums pounding in my head! Don’t worry though, I won’t try and use an alien medical device to make everyone else in the world look and talk like me. I’m crazy but I’m not that crazy. 

I do feel rejuvenated in finding something I’m really into that I can also help me connect with other people, especially friends who I already feel I relate to the most. I’m not into sports or cars so that alienates me from most other guys. I am a geek at heart and rediscovering Doctor Who has helped me reconnect with the geek in me. That’s a long neglected side of me that I feel more comfortable embracing. I have always loved the wonder and excitement of the science fiction. It fires me up in a way I can engage with. In fact I owe much of my getting back into Doctor Who to 2 friends of mine. They started a Cricket and Doctor Who podcast this year, and although I’m still not into Cricket, they did make me think about going back and watching Doctor Who.

Anyway I plan to write up my notes on how I came to rediscover Doctor Who and how surprised I was at the revived show being as good as it is. Other posts will also review The End Of Time episodes, which I loved, if for nothing more than having Timothy Dalton (one of my favourite Bond’s) as a great villainous Time Lord President Rassilon and watching John Simm devouring a whole roast chicken with his bare hands