Saturday, November 22, 2008

December Declutter

The lovely Emma over at My House Smells Like Vanilla posted a "10 things gone!" list/ challenge today, so in the unending quest to declutter my house (& indeed my life, I suppose), I've decided to take on the challenge.

Here's Em's list:
  1. ten pieces of clothing
  2. ten books
  3. ten craft supplies
  4. ten useless pieces of paper
  5. ten pieces of kitchen crap
  6. ten cosmetic/grooming supplies and
  7. ten things from your "study / basement / laundry / shed" or wherever things go to never be seen again
  8. ten pairs of shoes or socks
  9. ten toys
  10. ten things out of your bathroom
The challenge lasts a month; I will be starting on Monday and therefore ending on Christmas Eve.  I'll be posting my efforts, as will Em, and I'd encourage you to join us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Disillusion and opportunity"

This editorial popped up in UK medical journal The Lancet recently. It had some good things to say, and I think is worth a read. (But then, I think we've established that I'm interested in this issue)

I particularly like these points:
"Between 1994 and 2003, the number of children in the USA diagnosed with bipolar disorder increased 40-fold. Are we pathologising normal feelings and behaviour? Worse, our methods locate the fault (typically presumed to be neurochemical or genetic) in the child—rather than the environments that create distress and misbehaviour."

"If psychiatry is to retain its claim to rationality, it must allow patients, including children, to be heard, and not merely drugged."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Bet you can't guess why!

I found a totally fun tool today: COLOURlovers (via Design*Sponge) and have been playing around with a couple of colour palettes.

The website has this neat feature where you can point it to a picture online, and it will give you a selection of colours from that picture, which you can use to create a colour palette; plus it also gives you tools to adjust the colours and suggestions of similar colours.

My first attempt was based on this picture (also via D*S):

red raspberry

but, well, it sucked. The blue was too bright & clashed with the pink, which was also too get the idea. It eventually morphed into this, which is better:

but I'm still not sure about the pink, and it was a struggle just getting it to this. I was having serious issues getting the red right, too.

Anyway, then I plugged in this gorgeous picture:
(UK Vogue July 2008, courtesy m.writes

and got this:

which took about 5 seconds to come together! I swapped out the green for this softer one, but otherwise I think all the colours are ones the website pulled out of the photo. I was surprised that it didn't pick up any of the blues from the girl's dress. The result is quite nice anyway, no?

Anyway, that was my exercise in procrastination for the day :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Research, drug companies, and income reporting...

Has anyone else seen this article* about some eminent US child psychiatrists failing to fully report income from drug companies?

"A world-renowned Harvard child psychiatrist whose work has helped fuel an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but for years did not report much of this income to university officials, according to information given Congressional investigators."

It's not clear at this stage whether Dr Biederman and his colleagues' research has actually been compromised, but given the subjective nature of psychiatry in general, this is very concerning - especially given that this involves treatment of children with powerful psychiatric medications. Many children all over the world have been prescribed medications because of these doctors' work, and now we find there is a possibility that the research on which these decisions were based was invalid, or that the conclusions were invalid. Critics certainly believe this may be the case:

"The group published the results of a string of drug trials from 2001 to 2006, but the studies were so small and loosely designed that they were largely inconclusive, experts say. In some studies testing antipsychotic drugs, the group defined improvement as a decline of 30 percent or more on a scale called the Young Mania Rating Scale — well below the 50 percent change that most researchers now use as the standard.

Controlling for bias is especially important in such work, given that the scale is subjective, and raters often depend on reports from parents and children, several top psychiatrists said."

I'll be clear here - in general, I am pro-psychiatry. I think the work they do is vitally important, and that it can genuinely improve people's lives.
But I also think that medicine generally, and psychiatry in particular, has come to rely too heavily on pharmaceuticals, and often fails to see people as whole people. Oftentimes we need to think harder about the implications of our treatments, and how we deal with the adverse effects/side effects.  This story also highlights some issues about the relationships between doctors (and medical students) and drug companies.

At best, this is a blow for the credibility of psychiatry, and especially child psychiatry, a speciality that has already faced a lot of controversy and can ill-afford this kind of bad press. At worst, it brings the validity of much of the field into question. It certainly highlights inadequacies in the reporting of researchers' income and checking in the accuracy of this reporting.

*props to the education rep who posted this on the student discussion board, & for getting on his own soap box about the matter.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is this art, or just a by-product of construction?

What do we think?

(I actually wish I'd taken a photo of this building when I first saw it like this - I think there were more)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It always makes me wish I could sing like that

The Idea of North, and Adelaide Chamber Singers are two of my favourite acts to see live, so it's been great to see them both at the Fringe recently after not going to any concerts for a while.

I could wax lyrical about both these groups for ages - the skill of the singers in both groups is amazing.  The Idea of North are fantastic fun, and I'm constantly in awe of their ability to sing those tricky jazz harmonies.  Adelaide Chamber Singers do a lot of genuinely beautiful music, and the blend of sound they achieve as a group is amazing, especially when you consider that this is not their day job: while there are a number of up-and-coming or aspiring professional singers in the group, many of them have completely unrelated day jobs.

That said, I must confess to a sense of disappointment with the ACS concert last night.  It's not that they didn't sound good.  Although I did think that I've heard one of the soloists sing better than she did yesterday, and I maintain that counter-tenors are odd beasts, the group as a whole maintained their usual lovely, blended sound.  Part of the problem was the stifling heat and complete lack of any air flow in the cathedral last night, but for me, the real difficulty came with the choice of music for the concert.  Specifically, the major work, Arvo Pärt's Miserere.

This just turned out to be a piece of music that I couldn't really appreciate.  Pärt's music is frequently, uh... challenging, in the sense of unusual, pushing boundaries; but personally I couldn't even say that much for the Miserere .  I can appreciate how this could be a really atmospheric work in the right conditions, but I found it "long and tedious", to borrow my dad's words.   It's a pity, because I wanted to enjoy it, and it closed out the concert after some really lovely music in the Victoria Lamentations of Jeremiah for Maundy Thursday, and the MacMillan Christus Vincit.  Because it was the final work, it unfortunately put a bit of a dampener on my impressions of the concert, because for me, it was just a bit...nothing.  A little boring, to be blunt.

Despite not enjoying the Pärt itself, I did enjoy hearing some choir members sing solos, who I've not really heard individually before.  It was great to see some of the younger/ less prominent choir members get that opportunity.  There were also some singers last night who I've never seen sing with ACS before, and in particular it was great to see some singers who I recognise from a Conservatorium choir I sing in - it's nice to see them begin to move through into a high-profile choir like ACS.

Friday last week was the Idea of North's final Fringe show, and it was the first time I've seen Idea with their new soprano, Sally (I don't know her last name).  They've just announced that she will be permanently replacing Trish Delaney-Brown, who's still listed as the soprano on their website, but has decided not to return from maternity leave.

I must admit it was weird at first; you just expect to see the same people on stage every time.  But having got past "but...that's not Trish!"  I was impressed.  Sally seems to have slotted in to the group really well: she's certainly got the skill as a jazz/ a cappella singer, she blends (in terms of her sound) really well with the rest of the group, and she was having fun on stage.  All vital for an Idea member, in my opinion!

The other change as a result of Trish leaving the group, is that Naomi Crellin (alto) has taken over a lot of the female vocal solos that Trish used to do.  As an alto and an Adelaide girl myself, I thought this was fantastic ;)  She's taken this role on really well and it sounds great.  It was also great to see Idea in a small venue again,  this time the Promethian - the smaller, more intimate space really suits their easy, relaxed style on stage.  Overall a fantastic concert, as always.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

a totally predictable post

Now, I'm not going to claim to be a fashion expert here.  I've just pulled some photos/ dresses that jumped out at me.  Enjoy :)

Laura Linney... isn't she lovely?

Nicole Kidman - I do think that "Our Nic" is one of the most beautiful women on the planet.  And that dress!! And the diamonds!! just... wow.  Can I borrow that to get married in?
Plus, she and Keith are very cute together.

There were a number of unfortunate dress choices I could point out, and one or two "What was she (or he) thinking" moments, but it's all been said, so I'll stick to just this this one:
Jennifer Hudson, taking out the "So near, but yet so far" category.  It's not a dress I would choose, but she could have looked great.  Honey, next time, please just make sure your dress fits you before leaving the house.  It's all we ask.

As we all know, there were a number of baby bumps on show at the Oscars this year, but Jessica Alba was the standout for me.  I lovelovelove that colour!  The dress is pretty and flowing, and she has that pregnant radiance about her.  Overall, I think she looks fantastic.

I just adore this pic of George Clooney and his girlfriend Sarah Larson.  I'm not sure exactly what it is; I suppose its that this is such a candid shot, and yet there is no question that they both absolutely belong on that red carpet.  She's beautiful, he's suave and sexy - they just own it!

And lastly, in the "Only a supermodel could pull this off" category, is Heidi Klum.  It's hardly the most outrageous dress ever seen at the Oscars, but there's not a lot of women who could look this great in a dress like that.  Heidi totally pulls it off, despite the slightly dubious accessorising.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Food is much easier to photograph

So, here's what I was going to show off today:

An easy and pretty salad, inspired by the idea of a 'chop salad' - with credit to Jamie Oliver.  It was followed by a simple roast, making a great dinner.

But when I opened up iPhoto, I discovered my half-forgotten photos from the final stage of the Tour Down Under, and I thought - "Hey, I should post them."
But then I realised that, to be honest, it's a bunch of mostly rather ordinary photos:

Only slightly redeemed by some better ones like these:

So someone remind me why I take the camera??

Friday, February 15, 2008

moving through the ether

I'm in love.

Maybe in that pretty veriegated  green bamboo?  Mmm yum.

(Pattern is 'Ether' from Rowan Mag #43.  Photo courtesy of Mason-Dixon knitting)