Observations of a blown mind


This started out as a status update

But as I poured out my thoughts quite by accident it became much more. I wanted to share my reflections with you here, so excuse this indulgence.

Rather happier now I have had the opportunity to say goodbye, as it were, to Nan.

As an Atheist graveyards are strange places for me. I know once we are gone, we are gone. I know there is nothing after, we return to dust and our memory is carried on by our family. Eventually we will return to the stars and become at one at an atomic level with the universe – quite beautiful really.

Life is like energy really, it never really stops it just changes.

When the matriarch of any family passes away a huge whole is left and families can fall in to disarray. I hope my children and grandchildren realise how important family is and make the effort to stay close.To me family has always been important. You realise that when yours is gone and take pains to ensure that your own family treasures their relationship with each other.

I am thankful for my Wife for her loving support, and grateful I have the opportunity to educate my children without the confines, constraints and nonsense that any organized religion imposes. My children question everything, are encouraged to research everything for themselves and are richer for it!

Critical thinking is so lacking in this modern world it is becoming a rarity. Perhaps this is the next form of mental evolution for mankind? Those that have knowledge through research and mental dexterity, and those that choose not to trouble themselves with it and therefore embrace ignorance by blindly believing everything they are told, either from the pulpit or the many forms of filtered media.

It saddens me, which is why I speak out. After a lifetime of controlled blind obedience I feel obligated! I know it is unpleasant for some to hear and see, which is why 5 years ago I had over 600 friends on Facebook and today I have 133!!

For whatever reason, I have very few real friends, but those that I do call close friends I view as my family. They know who they are and know I value their companionship greatly. I confess I am a very lonely person and have a huge whole in my life, not because I have removed ‘God’ from it but because a religion chosen by my family requires them to be totally removed from mine. So all of the friends I ever had and all of the family I was so closely attached to are gone. Their choice killed off a part of me, and left a gaping hole.

Can you even imagine how hard it is to rebuild that?

Can you imagine how hard it is to socialise when you are disabled and wheelchair bound, unable to work any more?

Add in to the equation you have two autistic children who have three siblings. All polite and well behaved children – but looking after 5 kids is daunting.

You also only have a loving and willing father-in-law as the only person you can rely on to look after the children to enable you and your Wife the opportunity to go out and perhaps you begin to see the struggle we have.

BUT, I am not moaning, I don’t think people realise how much Emmajay and I have been through in the relatively short time we have been together, and what we go through on a daily basis.

We almost lost Jacob at 6 weeks. Micah is a very poorly boy with dysfunctional kidneys, he will also face a lifetime of awkwardness from his vitiligo. Autism is an incredibly difficult mental illness and we regularly face meltdowns from both Jacob and Reuben. Imagine a child throwing themselves in to the road or smacking their head on a brick wall because they face a change in routine, a strong smell, a new flavour they haven’t tried etc.

If we were advertising this as a job it would have to come with one hell of a salary and benefits package!

I doubt even then many would cope,

Which makes Emmajay even more amazing.

She does all this AND has to cope with a husband not coping with a recent and permanent disability.

My life is nothing like I envisioned at 18 when I was fed up and bored.

I’d love to have my youth back, and equally I am grateful for the journeys I have taken since then that have shaped me to become the man, husband and father I am today.

There is truth in the saying that life is a journey, just make sure you’re not sat on the bus looking out and watching it pass by! I did that for too long and when I got off at a stop, I found out it was fucking amazing.

Much love.



The pain of social exclusion

‘Social’ pain hurts physically, even when we see it in others

We would like to do without pain and yet without it we wouldn’t be able to survive. Pain signals dangerous stimuli (internal or external) and guides our behaviour. Its ultimate goal is to prioritize escape, recovery and healing. That’s why we feel it and why we’re also good at detecting it in others. Pain in fact protects not only the individual but also his social bonds. The brain contains circuits related to the more physical aspects of pain and others related to affective aspects. As observed in a study just published by Giorgia Silani, Giovanni Novembre and Marco Zanon of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, social pain activates some brain circuits of physical pain whether we feel it personally or when we experience it vicariously as an empathic response to other people’s pain.


The study by Silani and colleagues is innovative since it adopted a more realistic experimental procedure than used in the past and compared behaviours and the results of functional magnetic resonance imaging in the same subjects, during tests involving both physical and social pain. “Classic experiments used a stylized procedure in which social exclusion situations were simulated by cartoons. We suspected that this simplification was excessive and likely to lead to systematic biases in data collection, so we used real people in videos”.

The subjects took part in the experimental sessions simulating a ball tossing game, where one of the players was deliberately excluded by the others (condition of social pain). The player could be the subject herself or her assigned confederate. In another series of experiments the subject or her confederate were administered a mildly painful stimulus (condition of physical pain). When the subject was not personally the target of the stimulus, she could witness the entirety of her confederate’s experience.

“Our data have shown that in conditions of social pain there is activation of an area traditionally associated with the sensory processing of physical pain, the posterior insular cortex”, explains Silani. “This occurred both when the pain was experienced in first person and when the subject experienced it vicariously”.

“Our findings lend support to the theoretical model of empathy that explains involvement in other people’s emotions by the fact that our representation is based on the representation of our own emotional experience in similar conditions” concludes Silani.

A request

Because it will more than amuse me!

Because it will more than amuse me!

Disney Pixar grant dying girls final wish

This is an old story, from June 2009, but I feel it warrants revisiting in order to remind us that there are sometimes even large corporations who have big hearts. The cynics among us point out that this was just a callous attempt to gain free publicity, but we shall staunchly ignore them and focus on the positives. A young child had her final wish granted, and a mother had a chance to share a last moment with her daughter, and has that truly precious memory to hold on to for the rest of her days.

Dying Wish

Colby Curtin a pretty 10-year-old from Huntington Beach, California had one wish—to see the new Pixar animated film, “Up.” But, Colby was too ill to go to a theatre because she was seriously ill with cancer. Thankfully, a friend of the family got in touch with the studio and an employee of Pixar delivered a DVD copy of the movie to Colby’s home prior to its international release.

For those who may not have seen the move, it is a moving story about a grumpy elderly man whose wife passes away. After her death, he attempts to fulfill their dream of visiting South America using an unconventional method—by tying a multitude of balloons to his house and floating away.

Colby’s mother, Lisa said asked her daughter if she could hold on until the move arrived,  Colby replied, “I’m ready [to die], but I’m going to wait for the movie.” Lisa did not know what the theme of the movie was and said, “I just know that the word ‘Up’ and all the balloons.”

Colby had seen advertisements for the movie and said, “I have to see that movie. It is so cool,” reported a family friend Carole Lynch. Colby was diagnosed with vascular cancer in 2005 and her health began to take a turn for the worse in June 2009. However, the Pixar employee not only brought Colby the movie, but had movie memorabilia and stuffed animals of characters for the ailing girl.

When the family viewed the DVD, Lisa described scenes to Colby, who was unable to open her eyes to see the film. Several hours after the viewing, Colby passed away.

Lisa said one of the items the Pixar employee left was an “adventure book” based on the scrapbook that was kept by the elderly man’s wife in the move. “I’ll have to fill those adventures in for Colby,” said Lisa.

If you do one thing after reading this article, I hope it is something constructive and positive. Perhaps a financial donation to a children’s hospital or charity, I’ll leave it up to you.

Should America ban firearms?

Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a reported shooting there Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.  (AP Photo/Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks)

Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., following a shooting there Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. (AP Photo/Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks)

My heart goes out to the parents and families of all those affected by the atrocities today at Sandy Hook school.

After the awful events today in Newtown, Connecticut which comes not that long off the back off the shooting at the movie theatre in Colorado. Is now the time for Obama to make the move other presidents have mooted at, but not acted upon, and ban personal firearms in America?

I have my opinion but what about you? Get involved; have your say on the NEW Forum;

CLICK >>> https://www.facebook.com/100UsesForMuesli

Banana Museum

“They say laughter is good for the soul…”

No more condoms!



Rubbers could become a thing of the past

Fear not dear reader, I haven’t gone Catholic!

A team of bioengineers has published a paper detailing a potential new contraceptive that protects against both HIV and pregnancy through drug release.

The study, published in PLoS One, was released the same week asWorld Aids day, which draws attention to the 34 million people living with HIV worldwide, and the 1.7 million AIDs-related deaths that occurred in 2011.

The University of Washington (UW) team set out to create an alternative to the condom, which, despite being the only potential barrier to both HIV and pregnancy, is too often not used. Deciding that delayed drug delivery would present the best option, the team set about engineering a dissolvable material that could be inserted directly into the vagina or used to cover women’s birth control apparatus. The idea is that it would not only block the sperm (see above image), but release antiviral drugs and spermicides.

“We have the drugs to do it,” said Kim Woodrow, the UW bioengineering assistant professor who first suggested the method. “It’s really about delivering them in a way that makes them more potent, and allows a woman to want to use it.”

To create something that would be strong enough to do the job and carry the antiviral and contraceptive drugs, yet delicate enough to dissolve when necessary, the team turned to nanofibres. Generated through electrospinning (where an electric field is used to send streams of fine, charged fluid through the air) nanofibres can be built in infinite different formations. It can be manipulated to be as soluble or strong as necessary, and can be adapted to carry different drugs.

Woodrow, along with co-authors Thanyanan Chaowanachan, Emily Krogstad, Cameron Ball, dissolved FDA-approved polymers and HIV-treating antiretroviral drugs together. The combined solution was passed over an electric field from a syringe in a fine flow; the field stretches it out into fibres measuring 100 to 1,000 nanometers. Once formed the fibres fall on to a hard surface to become a solid, mesh structure (in the shape of the chosen hard surface) that can be so finely tuned, it can be engineered to release drugs or spermicides in minutes or gradually over the course of several days (as with some vaccines). Different fibres can be loaded with different drugs, so that the various strands that make up a finished product protect against a variety of diseases.

Although the team believes it has come up with a viable alternative to the condom, one vital questions remains unanswered. “At the time of sex, are people going to actually use it?” asked Krogstad. “That’s where having multiple options really comes into play. Depending on cultural background and personal preferences, certain populations may differ in terms of what form of technology makes the most sense for them.”

The dissolvable material has impressed so much, the team was awarded $1 million (£600,000) by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for research and development. Funds will go towards expanding the team, purchasing an electrospinning machine and testing out different combinations of antiretroviral and birth control drugs, before scaling production.

Via Wired

01/12/12 – World AIDS Day

World Aids Day 2012

World Aids Day 2012

What is World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is held on 1 December each year and is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day and the first one was held in 1988.

Why is World AIDS Day important?

Around 100,000 are currently living with HIV in the UK and globally an estimated 34 million people have HIV. More than 25 million people between 1981 and 2007 have died from the virus, making it one of the most destructive pandemics in history.

Today, many scientific advances have been made in HIV treatment, there are laws to protect people living with HIV and we understand so much more about the condition. But despite this, people do not know the facts about how to protect themselves and others from HIV, and stigma and discrimination remain a reality for many people living with HIV. World AIDS Day is important as it reminds the public and Government that HIV has not gone away – there is still a vital need to raise money, increase awareness, fight prejudice and improve education.

What should I do on World AIDS Day?

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for you to learn the facts about HIV and put your knowledge into action. Find out how much you know by taking our online quiz: Are you HIV aware? Test your knowledge and awareness by taking the quiz and act aware by passing the quiz on and sharing it with your friends on Twitter and Facebook.

If you understand how HIV is transmitted, how it can be prevented, and the reality of living with HIV today – you can use this knowledge to take care of your own health and the health of others, and ensure you treat everyone living with HIV fairly, and with respect and understanding. Click here to find out the facts.

You can also show your support for people living with HIV on World AIDS Day by wearing a red ribbon, the international symbol of HIV awareness.

World AIDS Day is also a great opportunity to raise money for NAT (National AIDS Trust) and show your support for people living with HIV. If you feel inspired to hold an event, bake sale or simply sell red ribbons,click here to get started. If you’d like to see what other events are taking place — click here and find out more.




For Naomi

Miss you guys – gooooo UTES!

To all of my American friends and former colleagues;

Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned
To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned:
We often focus all our thought
On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought;
We take our pleasure in material things
Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings.
If a lot of our stuff just vanished today,
We’d see the foundation of each happy day
Is special relationships, constant and true,
And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you.
We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget,
Full of love and joy—your best one yet!