Ticket to ride winning strategies – weekend engineering works

This week’s Weekend Engineering Works post is about Ticket to Ride winning strategies. The game involves racing against other players to build a network of railway lines across different counties and continents. What I find exciting about the game is the recreation of an age of bold and adventurous engineering: the railway era. I particular enjoy building routes that I have travelled down in real life. But what I enjoy most is dreaming up winning strategies, and then testing them out.

In this post I describe my few of my more successful Ticket to Ride wining strategies. Alongside, as you might expect from this blog, I’ve also provided some wider musings on their philosophical implications.

Continue reading “Ticket to ride winning strategies – weekend engineering works”

I want to be a ski-lift engineer when I grow up

That’s what my 8-year-old daughter said to me yesterday. Truth be told, I’d been talking earlier in the week about ski-lift engineering as a job that combines so many of her passions: rocks and minerals: climbing; being outdoors; skiing (following a single trip to a dry ski slope); making Lego zip lines; drawing. No wonder she likes the idea. So do I. In fact, wonder if it is too late to apply?

Continue reading “I want to be a ski-lift engineer when I grow up”

Weekend engineering works – near Weston-Super-Mare

Today engineers completed work on a major new irrigation channel to bring drinking water to a major new coastal development on Sand Bay, near Weston-Super-Mare. The 60-metre-long new canal brings water that rises from the coarse sand at the back of the beach across the inter-tidal zone to the new fortified town, which looks north-westwards across the Bristol Channel towards Cardiff.

In a bold vision, the water supply has two functions: potable water supply for the imaginary people living in the turret in the middle of the island; and also to ensure the defensive moat is always full. Anglo-French design and build contractors Eiffelover and Co. have a long track record in delivering civil and environmental projects in coastal settings.

Continue reading “Weekend engineering works – near Weston-Super-Mare”

Good enough for now: the philosophy of Lego sorting

With our household suddenly in self-isolation pending results of a Covid test, my daughter and I are back playing lego together and I’m revisiting that recurring question: how best to sort our Lego? But this time I think I have landed on a method that is standing the test of time, and one which has wider philosophical benefits.

Continue reading “Good enough for now: the philosophy of Lego sorting”

Memories of seven – a diary for my daughter

My daughter is now seven. I have been trying to remember what being seven was like for me. Memories start to become more frequent around this time. Some major changes were going on for me around then, moving house, moving school, parents divorcing. Until recently I would have said I could clearly remember when and in what order these big events in my childhood happened. But when I tried to write these down, it seems my hard drive is more fragmented than I had realised.

So I started to recreate my picture of seven on a piece of paper, and in conversation with family, started to fill in the gaps. This is what I’ve managed to piece together.

Continue reading “Memories of seven – a diary for my daughter”

Why do they say ‘sixty-ten’ in French?

This question came up on the way home this evening. On the back of the tandem, my daughter was experimenting with counting in French. Things were going fine until we got to sixty-nine. And then I explained that French for seventy is soixante-dix, literally, ‘sixty ten’. Without turning round, I could feel the look of bewilderment on her face.

Continue reading “Why do they say ‘sixty-ten’ in French?”

Bubble surface

This afternoon I headed to We The Curious with my daughter for a summer holiday treat. The highlight was the giant sheet of bubble you can make there by dragging a sort of rollerblind contraption through a soapy solution. The result is a vertical bubble surface that flows and swirls with irridescant eddies. When you blow at the surface is distorts out of plane, like a bullesye from a spun pane of glass, or a portal to another dimension.

And then without warning, ping, it disappears without a trace.

Parenting x inspecting hydraulic structures in the Frome Valley

[Written in May, posted today] Saturday was the chance for my one of my favourite kinds of parenting: the kind where I can go on a journey with my daughter at her pace, stop and look at various bits of engineering infrastructure along the way, and then move on when we are ready.

This weekend’s excursion was along the Frome Valley in East Bristol. Near where we live the river cuts a steep gorge through the limestone landscape that forms a lush green necklace that weaves its way through our neighbourhood. It is an excellent off-road route for cycling.

Continue reading “Parenting x inspecting hydraulic structures in the Frome Valley”

Beware of Shwaa! – (re)learning to read and write

Today I went to a phonics briefing meeting at my daughter’s school. I joked beforehand that we were going to a phonetics briefing session, liking the idea of working out what all those symbols you see in a dictionary mean, the ones that look like thermodynamics equations. But when you stop to think about it, spelling in English must be equally incomprehensible to the unititiated. I’ve realised that beyond spelling out simple three-letter words and stringing them together to create dull scenarios involving recumbant felines on carpeting, I simply don’t understand how to help my daughter spell out most words.

Continue reading “Beware of Shwaa! – (re)learning to read and write”