BLOGMAS 2020 – the Boar’s Head

Howdy y’all and welcome to Blogmas 2020. After a chaotic year, I believe that bringing back Blogmas will help with the holiday cheer. This year I am going to do it slightly differently, with blog posts of Blue teaching and crafting with you as well as an update of my week from me (I may also bring back the fan favourite Christmas cheese jokes!). To start day one off I am going to write about the Boar’s Head Christmas Carol.

The Boar’s Head Carol is a tradition at my school (and many others) which is sung by the sixth formers in acapella (aged 16-18). This (and last year), I am taking part in singing the traditional song. The carol is about a sacrificing a boar and resenting it at the head of a Yuletide festival. It has been around since the 15th century and has been sung at my school for 100 years. Usually we perform it in the dark with lanterns during the beginning of our Christmas concert however going this year it is being filmed to be shown virtually.

The lyrics are as follows:

Chorus: Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino. Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino.

Verse 1: The Boar’s head in hand bear I, Bedecked with bays and rosemary. And I pray you my masters be merry, Quot est-is convivio.

Chorus: Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino. Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino.

Verse 2: The Boar’s head as I understand, Is the rarest dish in all the land. Which thus be decked with a gay garland, Let us servire coniuco.

Chorus: Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino. Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino.

Verse 3: Our steward hath provided this, In honour of the kind of bliss. Which in this day to be served is, In reginensi a trio.

Chorus: Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino. Caput apri defero. Redens laudes domino.

Verse 1 repeat: The Boar’s head in hand bear I, Bedecked with bays and rosemary. And I pray you my masters be merry, Quot est-is convivio.

Among Us 101

among us drawn game profile picture

Over the past few months there has been a game which has rapidly risen called Among Us. Compared to the release of the family friendly, calming Animal Crossing New Horizons game early this year, Among Us is the complete opposite relying on betrayal and sacrifice to win. Recently, I have been playing Among Us in some of my study periods doing a ‘live’ meeting whenever the button was called or a dead body reported yet first I will briefly explain the game.

What is the difference between a crewmate and an imposter?

A crewmate completes tasks and tries to figure out who the imposter is by gathering information like a detective. Crewmates can win if they vote out the imposter or complete all of their tasks. If someone spots a dead body (as the imposter has killed), they are able to report the body and discuss any suspicious activity they have seen during meetings where at the end of the meeting they can vote someone off or skip there vote. The crewmates work together in a team to find the imposter among them.

An imposters task is to fake tasks and avoid suspicion whilst trying to kill the other crewmates and sabotage different areas. The imposters are able to ‘vent’ around the map in order to move quickly around and are able to report dead bodies – this is called a self report. Mostly an imposter has to avoid suspicion to avoid being voted out and they win the game when there is only one crewmate left alive.

If anyone dies or is voted off, they become ghosts. Crewmate ghosts can finish their tasks whilst Imposter ghosts can still sabotage.

What are the three maps you can play on?

  1. SKELD
    • Looks like a spaceship which is one giant loop
    • 14 rooms
    • 5 visual tasks (which can be turned off)
    • Security system allows for 4 corridors to be viewed at the same time
    • contains 5 vents systems
    • reactor, electrical, communications and O2 can all be sabotaged by the imposters
    • imposters can also sabotage doors which have an automatic reopening countdown
  2. MIRA HQ
    • Looks like an office building with a triangular design
    • 12 rooms
    • 1 visual task
    • Security system is a ‘doorlog’ which allows three sensors to pick up the movement of the players
    • contains 11 vents which are all connected via one system
    • reactor, O2 an electrical can all be sabotaged by the imposters
    • imposters cannot sabotage doors
  3. POLUS
    • Looks like a snowy planet and has quite a large layout
    • 15 rooms
    • 2 visual tasks
    • Security system allows for six areas to be viewed individually
    • reactor, O2 and electrical can all be sabotaged by the imposter
    • imposters can sabotage doors which can be reopened using switches
    • contains vitals which allows you to see who is alive or dead

What is 84’s favourite map?

I am a big fan of the SKELD but it may be due to this map being the simplest to follow and play in online lobbies. However, the other maps are more fun to play ‘live’ talking to your friends during meetings as you are able to explain where you are and our story a lot more clearer compared to typing it during the meetings box.

If you have not played Among Us, I highly recommend playing it during the Christmas season as a virtual game. My overall rating is 9/10.

Competition time with Judge Blue

Howdy, Blue here,

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, I’ve taken to hiding in 84s room to avoid getting this nasty virus which is about. I don’t want to be remembered as the first bear to catch it.

This evening I came out of my hiding place to undertake a very important role – Mum84 needed an adjudicator for the Rainbows Cuddly Toy Show so I ventured out.

I was introduced to the Rainbows, there were lots of new faces this time. Each Rainbow took a turn to introduce their cuddly toy and tell us a little bit about it. The contest for the biggest was a closely fought race with entries from P with Sparkles the Unicorn and M with Peggy the Pegasus. I needed a bit of help from the Rainbows to decide and Peggy the Pegasus was declared the winner of the biggest cuddly toy.

Another close category was the cuddliest cuddly toy, entries from O with Bunny, I with Lion and P with Sparkles, being on zoom this was very hard to judge as I couldn’t personally snuggle up with them and had to rely on how much they were being cuddled by their owner, but I eventually decided on Bunny who has been cuddled by her owner since birth.

Other entries included Sequin, Penguin and Lily who won the sparkliest, smallest and prettiest eyes categories.

Each entrant will be awarded a certificate and a rosette.

Mum84 says that some of the parents came up with a few alternative categories – most chewed, most washed, most bald spots and the one where Mummy hasn’t sewn the arm back on yet!

Maybe it’s not just me who needs to get out more … Lockdown is getting to us all.

Christmas Adverts

Throughout this week, many brands have been releasing their Christmas adverts. Usually I would consider the Christmas season to start as soon as the infamous John Lewis Christmas Advert is released which gets better each year. This year however, I was not a big fan of the John Lewis Christmas advert yet, I thought it was very clever how it was made. Below is a list of my favourite Christmas adverts from this year with a mini review. So, in no particular order:

  1. Coca Cola
    • Delivering a letter to Santa should be fairly easy however, for the Dad staring in this advert he has to go on a very long journey to deliver the letter as he missed the post. It was very adventurous and enjoyable to watch.
  2. SuperValu
    • This advert had a really cute twist at the end which made my happy. I may or may not have started to tear up but it was so sweet, that I went ‘awww’.
  3. Aldi
    • Kevin and his carrot gang were back this year but there were no evil parsnips in sight, instead Kevin was waiting for his dad to return home. A very cute advert with Kevin once again.
  4. Don’t let me go (John Lewis parody)
    • I cried at this so I highly recommend watching it. It was about an elderly man and his dog where from the beginning, I knew it would be very emotional. The music was also very beautiful.
  5. Walkers
    • This was very joyful and all about sausage rolls featuring LADBABY who have produced the last two Christmas chart no. 1 with ‘we built this city’ and ‘I love sausage rolls’. LADBABY were featured singing Christmas carols about sausage rolls to promote Walker’s festive sausage roll flavoured crisps.
  6. Sainsbury’s
    • I felt very heart warmed watching this as it showed family around Christmas whilst sharing the message of love, family and festivity (plus Christmas traditions such as who makes the best dish within the Christmas Dinners – I make good stuffing balls).

In conclusion, it is now the start of Christmas! I can rock to Christmas music and start to put festive decorations up around the house. I have already started watching Christmas movies and shows to get into the festive spirit!

If you have any other good Christmas adverts or Christmas movies and shows I should review, let me know in the comments below.

remember remember the 5th of November …

It’s that time of the year again when we “remember remember the 5th of November. Gun powder, treason and plot.”. This year Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire night is being celebrated in the UK very differently (especially as England has gone back into a national lock down for 4 weeks).

So for any non British citizens, you may be wondering what Bonfire night is all about and it all starts with the Gun Powder Plot.

On the 5th of November 1605, the Gun Powder conspirators had planned to blow up parliament on the day of state opening where the King would be in attendance. There plan was to kill all members of parliament and the King in order to re-establish Catholic rule in England. The conspirators were betrayed and hence caught the night before there plan. Guy Fawkes was found in a cellar where the explosives were being stored. Eventually all conspirators were caught and either were killed or captured and trialled. Parliament announced that on November the 5th from 1606, a national day of thanksgiving should be held.

Usually we would celebrate Bonfire night by watching a firework display or attending a Bonfire. Some people will create a straw “Guy” which will be placed on the bonfire in the evening. Throughout the day, they will take the “Guy” around asking passerby’s for “a penny for the Guy”.

My Bonfire night tradition is that we usually eat burgers and/or sausages with chips. Supposedly, guards working at the houses of parliament hosts a search on the 5th of November to check for explosives and potential arsonists.

Do you have any Bonfire night traditions or any similar events let me know in the comments!

Black History Month 2020

October is Black History month so to celebrate I put up a display in my schools Mathematics Corridor. Here are seven important mathematicians and scientists who have defied

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was a famous mathematician who earnt a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and French.

In 1953, she was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ and worked analysing data from flight tests.

In 1962, Johnson was asked by John Glenn to rerun the numbers and equations which were calculated by the computer because he wanted to check the programme was correct. His space flight was then successful.

In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. This is the highest civilian honour any American can be awarded.

Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr.

Jesse Ernest Wilkins Jr. attended the University of Chicago at the age of 13 (in 1936) and was one of the youngest students to attend. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics at 17 and earnt his PhD at 19.

Wilkins worked with Arthur Compton and Enrico Fermi to research methods into producing fissionable nuclear materials focusing on plutonium-239. Unfortunately, he did not fully know the purpose of his research until the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima.

In 1944, he worked on research with Eugene Wingner on neutron absorption which lead to the discovery of the Wigner-Wilkins approach to estimate the distribution of neutron energies within nuclear reactors.

He helped on the Manhattan project with a strong interest in the peaceful application of atomic energy.

In 1976, he became the president of the American Nuclear Society and later was the second African American to be elected to the National Academy of Engineering, which is one of the highest honours an engineer can receive.

Dorothy Vanughan

Dorothy Vanughan was a mathematician who in 1943 worked at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory and was assigned to the segregated ‘West Area Computing Unit’. The West Computers contributed to most areas of research at Langley.

In 1949, Dorothy was promoted to become NACA’s first black supervisor and was one of the few female supervisors.

Later in 1958 when NACA transitioned to NASA she joined the Analysis and Computation Division which was one of the first integrated groups at NASA. She became an expert of the FORTRAN programme and contributed to the Scot Launch Vehicle Program.

In 1971, she retired from NASA.

Benjamin Banneker

Benjamin Banneker owned a farm near Baltimore, USA and was largely self-educated in Astronomy and Mathematics.

He constructed a wooden clock which kept accurate time for more than 50 years and Banneker was able to accurately predict lunar and solar eclipses.

In 1791, Andrew Ellicott hire Banneker to help assist in surveying territory for the nation’s capital and worked in the observatory tent using a zenith sector to record movements of stars.

Between 1792-97, he published many Almanacs (annual calendars) which included astronomical calculations, opinion pieces, literature, medical and tidal information.

Benjamin wrote letters to Thomas Jefferson outlying his hypocrisy to enslave African Americans whilst they were fighting the British for independence. He also attached his Almanac to the letter.

Jefferson acknowledged his letter and, in his response, stated how he had sent Banneker’s Almanac to Monsieur de Condorcet.

Banneker gained widespread support of abolitionist societies in Maryland and Pennsylvania for his views against slavery.

Katherine Adebola Okikiolu

Kate Okikiolu developed an interest for Mathematics in high school and in 1985 attended Newham College at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a Bachelors degree in Mathematics.

From here, she then studied in the United States to research for her doctorate and became an assistant professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and in 1974 she became a full-time professor.

In 1991 she gained her PhD for her thesis on The Analogue of the Strong Szego Limit Theorem on the Torus and the 3-Sphere.

From 1992-95 she worked as an assistant professor at Princeton University and produced two papers whilst here.

She became an assistant visiting professor at MIT from 1995 to 1997 and produced three joint papers with Victor Guillemin.

She joined the University of California at San Diego in 1997 as an associated professor where, during this time, she was awarded the Sloan Research Fellowship and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Throughout her time here she delivered many lectures and talks including three talks at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2011 she joined the Mathematics department at Johns Hopkins University, USA.

David Blackwell

David Blackwell was an American mathematician and statistician whom in 1935, age 16, attended the University of Illinois and graduated with a Bachelors degree, then a Masters and finally earnt a Doctorate.

Later, Blackwell took a position at Howard University which he described as being the “ambition of every black scholar” and after 3 years he became a full professor and became the Head of the Department of Mathematics.

In 1954, he left to take a position as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and in 1956 he became a chairman of the Statistics Department.

In 1965, he was elected to the National Academy of Science.

In 1979, he received the John von Neumann Theory Prize for his work on dynamic programming.

In 1986, Blackwell also earnt the R.A Fisher Award from the Committee of Presidents of Statistical Societies.

Mamokgethi Phakeng

Mamokgethi Phakeng achieved a Bachelors degree in Pure Mathematics at the University of North-West, South Africa and a master degree in Mathematics Education at the University of Witwatersrand where in 2002 she became the first black female South African to obtain a PhD in Mathematics Education.

Phakeng became the first female president of the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa during 2002-2006. In 2007 she was elected a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa and in 2009 she became an honourary member of the Golden Key International Honour Society.

From 2011 to 2016 she became the first female president of the Convocation of the University of Wiwatersrand.

In 2014, the CEO Magazine named her Africa’s most influential female academic.

In 2016, the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa awarded her the prestigious Businesswoman of the Year Award in the education category.

On top of this, Mamokgethi has gained many awards such as the Doctor of Science from the University of Bristol and held the Mellon Award from 1998 to 2000.

Autumn Term One Review

For the last 8 weeks, I have been settling back into my school routine (COVID-19 edition). Even through the last few weeks, school have made many changes such as now making face coverings compulsory in all shared areas as well as making the loud noisy common room a quieter study area. It is very weird having my science lessons in a DT room and my Maths lessons in random classrooms however luckily the majority of my Chemistry classes are in a science lab.

For the first few days of the year I was very stressed over returning to school. We were sent our reopening plan and I was unhappy with the changes in place and was very anxious however, I have slowly adjusted to school. It is not as strict as it was before Summer but there are specific doors and areas of the school we are allowed in. The weather has been fairly warm so I have been able to sit outside rather than in the hot common room. However, as it neared the end of September and start of October, the weather got colder so I have been sitting inside more often.

school work

This term at school, we have been focusing on sorting out UCAS and our personal statements as well as sorting out my American applications. Halfway through the term we had Recovery Assessments to catch up on our work from March. These tests were low stakes so it was more for the teachers to check our understanding compared to being grades. As part of my USA application, I have been partaking in many virtual webinars in my evenings and attending UK open days.

I have also been continuing my extracurricular activities from dancing weekly on a Wednesday evening to completing virtual Beaver meetings on a Monday. I also am counting watching Home and Away as an extracurricular! Over the past month or so, I have nearly finished watching The Flash season six and participated in DC’s virtual comic con.

Overall, this term has improved as the weeks have past. The leaves are falling and soon we will be converting back to GMT time. Summer is over, and autumn is in swing getting closer and closer to Christmas. During half term, I am planning to complete some school work, revise and finish up my university applications. On top of this, I am going to relax and carve pumpkins whilst decorating the house for Halloween.

three weeks postponed exams

On Monday, the government announced that the A-level and GCSE examinations will be pushed back by three weeks –https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-54508851. This is not a sufficient amount of time to catch up on 5 months of missed school. The government needs a Plan B!

In my three extra weeks instead of ‘revising’ I am going to:

  1. sing happy birthday repeatedly and consecutively 181,440 times
  2. watch the film Pandemic on loop 328.7 times
  3. catch up on some sleep
  4. procrastinate for 10 hours, finally revise for 2 hours, eat and sleep for 12 hours. repeat
  5. listen to ‘I’m still standing’ by Elton John 9,969 times
  6. if I were to go on a mission to Mars, I would only get 7.6% through my journey (or 3.8%) before I’d have to turn around to take my exams)
  7. read the Great expectations by Charles Darwin roughly 49.5 times – though I am sure I’ll get bored of reading it by the third time

But one thing I cannot do is catch up on 5 months of missed school work 🙁

if you have read this far please can you fill in this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/326066

SAAL Design Photo book

I was recently offered a voucher by Saal Digital for a substantial discount to use on one of their “Professional Line” Photobooks. I thought this would be a great way to showcase some of the photos I have enjoyed taking over the last few years, including my experiences going to the World Scout Jamboree last year.

I chose the 21 x 21 Photobook Professional Line book and chose glossy paper with a leather titanium cover surface. This photobook came with a gorgeous acrylic cover.

I found it very easy to design the inside of my photobook and used the free design software they provided – “Saal Design Software UK” – however, you were able to upload a PDF or use their app instead. I downloaded the software and was greeted with a screen to select your chosen photobook design – I believe you could change the photobook design later if you changed your mind. Once I chose the Design Professional Line Photobook, I selected the 21 x 21 size before opting for the leather titanium cover surface and the glossy paper.

From here, I was given the option to use the software completely from scratch, use the One Minute function or to use their Auto Layout function. I opted for the One Minute function as I was able to add photos, use the auto layout feature and still make changes to my photo layouts: comparatively, the auto layout function was mostly automated with not as much customisation.

I then started to add my different photos into the software making sure to frequently save my photo book. It was very easy and simple to use – I could drag photos onto the page or select images from my folders. The software told me the quality of each image which ranged from poor to very good as I zoomed in and out of different images. Overall, my photo book used multiple designs; from one double page containing 1 single photo, to a gallery of 18 images, to 3/4 images per a page. On the more crowded pages, the images were still clear and of high quality.

In the end, it took me around 6 hours to design and sort. I spend a few hours over the course of a few days sorting and designing each page – if I were to create a similar photo book again, I would definitely recommend having all your selected photos in one selected folder to make it easier to add your photos. Once you have used one photo, the software shows a tick in it’s top right corner to show that you have inserted that image.

Once I was happy with my finalised photo book, I added in some text before uploading my book and pressing ‘save and pay’. This led me to a screen confirming I was happy with everything before it prompted me with payment and shipping options. I got free shipping and it came in just over a week. Below are some photos of my photo book:

As you can see from the images, the photo book is beautiful. The quality is stunning and the images are of very high quality. The 21 x 21 size is perfect to have placed on a coffee table or showcased on a shelf. I would highly recommend purchasing one of these books to be used as a holiday album, wedding album, as a birthday gift or just as a simple photo book.

Overall, my ratings are as follows:

SAAL Design Software UK: 9/10 – this was very efficient and easy to use however, to improve I would add a few more different auto layout designs for 5+ photos

Shipping: 10/10 – this was quick and it was not damaged when it arrived

Quality of photo book: 10/10 – it was breath taking to look at and flip through each page

Price: 8/10 – it can be a bit expensive however, it is definitely worth the price (I got a £100 off voucher but they are frequently doing £15 off vouchers to decrease the price of purchase)

In conclusion, I am sure I will purchase more products from them again. Let me know in the comments what you think and if you would like more reviews from me.

If you would like to check out their products visit:

https://www.saal-digital.co.uk/

30 km Charity Hike for Sue Ryder

A week ago, I participated in a charity hike for Sue Ryder. This was a 30km hike around my county and we went up 4 hills. Throughout the hike we experienced a fair few problems including one of the public footpaths being covered with stinging nettles and overgrown plants (meaning we had to change our route which then coincidentally passed a McDonald’s). Later on in the hike, we also changed our route and took shorter footpaths in order to gain time back after having to backtrack ourselves early on. Finally, we finished slightly early due to being 2 hours behind our schedule.

Overall, we hiked for around 11.5 hours on on average walked around 46,500 steps. After 5 months of lock down and being unfit, this hike was very challenging however, I am very proud to have taken part. We were lucky that the weather stayed nice and dry with the temperature staying around 20 degrees (centigrade) for most of the day. As we climbed up our last hill, we watched the sunset which was very beautiful. Throughout our walk, we spotted many different animals including a Peregrine Falcon, playful and energetic dogs, horses, cows, sheep, alpacas/llamas, bunnies and squirrels. We also saw a Halloween skeleton on a back gate.