Review: My Scientology Movie by Louis Theroux

My first experience of Scientology was as a very young teenager at one of their seminars aimed at recruiting new members. I was impressed and remember trying to convince my parents during the break that we should go on all these other seminars. We didn’t go back after the break.

We had been invited by a family friend who I believe had recently joined Scientology and was trying to recruit us – in Louis’ documentary there’s a mention of a 10% cut for any member who recruits new members. Whether we left because my parents were concerned about me becoming indoctrinated, or because they had been conned into the event and thought it was just a gathering, or whatever other reason I don’t know. I do know that my mum later went to a meeting about the church where church members overly took down license plates of those in attendance and – when I asked about that family friend some months later – that he was no l longer allowed to see us.

We had a bunch of Scientology and anti-Scientology literature [predominantly books of people who managed to escape] in the house which I read over time. The former was confusing and didn’t appeal to me, whereas the latter horrified me. Former members talked of harassment and intimidation tactics denied by the sect – yet it is exactly the kind of stuff that’s shown time and time again in documentaries such as John Sweeney’s and Louis Theroux’s.

Growing up my family boycotted films starring known Scientology members, such as Tom Cruise or John Travolta, to not further the church through cinema tickets or increased viewing figures on TV. I didn’t see Mission Impossible or The Firm until many years later for example.

So all in all I’m not a complete newcomer to Scientology and as such this documentary, while sobering, wasn’t groundbreaking for me. I’d seen the intimidation tactics before and the documentary didn’t have much new information for me. However, thanks to Louis picking this up, it reaches a whole new audience of people who may have been unfamiliar with the subject matter before. By releasing the film in the cinema it may have again reached people who wouldn’t have otherwise. All of this is a distinct positive.

I never learned even a snippet about Scientology at school and only became exposed to it due to my parents’ interest in it. There needs to be more education around it and Louis’ documentary should be a part of that alongside more traditional documentaries.

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Siren Sleeve wrist warmers [pattern from @bohoknits with Hundertwasser wool]

My siren sleeve, an adaption from the original pattern

My siren sleeves, an adaption from the original pattern

  • Pattern: Bohoknits Siren Sleeves [free]
  • Wool: Opal Hundertwasser “Wartende Häuser” [for @spritesbites] & Hundertwasser “Use Public Transport – Save the City” [my pair]

siren-sleeve-smallThis is the second bohoknits pattern I have finished [first one was this beanie which I’ve yet to wear as it’s not been cold enough] though I have already been working on the third one! They’re easy patterns, are mostly simple knit, and I really like the finished results!

siren-sleeve-spritesI had actually come across the pattern a while back, but didn’t make it at the time because I didn’t need them – it was warm after all! When @spritesbites mentioned she had cold hands I offered to knit them purely to try out the pattern.

They were easy to knit and I’ve learned two new stitches through it – M1R & M1L [Purlsoho’s instructions were brilliant for that]. When I finished the first pair I’d fallen in love with the pattern which is why I ended up creating a pair for myself, too, albeit with some modifications:

  • I made them longer so they appear more slouchy and become wrinkly at the wrist even when pulled all the way to the elbow.
  • I made them wider – 56 stitches aka 14 stitches per needle.
  • I did eight rows garter stitch at the top and six at the bottom.
  • I added another three rows to the thumb gusset making it 13 stitches to move to the holder.

siren-sleeve-next-to-each-other-smallBut even the original ones I made for @spritesbites are fantastic and I can’t wait to start wearing mine today, especially as there’s some snow predicted tomorrow!

Someone [a non-knitter!] asked me a while back how I keep track of what I knit so I figured I’d add the notes to this post, too. Most of the things I knit are ridiculously easy and something which usually just involves knit and purl stitches. In this case there were a few instances where I needed to keep track of the rows which I then scribble onto post it notes. On the left is the one for @spritesbites’ pair and on the right the one for my pair. Nothing too complex really, but it helps hugely when taking breaks or watching tv or having conversations.

img_20161105_090927

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Yellow scarf

yellow-scarf-small

With this scarf I have developed a sort of love-hate relationship and I’m really glad it’s done. For one I am no longer sure if I like the pattern then I kept making mistakes and then I thought I didn’t have enough wool which was a worry plaguing me for the majority of it. But let’s take a step back to the beginning.

A couple of weeks ago I was discussing a scarf with my grandma. She wanted to knit one based on one she had had before and explained the pattern to me. I didn’t understand it until I had tried it out myself and wrote the pattern down which took the better part of the evening and also involved looking on Ravelry, but it’s hard looking for something when you don’t know what you’d call it.

Liking the result myself, and completely procrastinating a project I had almost finished but which needed a couple of rows of unravelling, I decided it would be the perfect pattern for these two balls of Hundertwasser wool I had for years and never really knew what to do with. Cue several quickly unravelled attempts due to making mistakes or realising the scarf wasn’t wide enough. Then I realised that I didn’t like the way the scarf looked with the wool – both gorgeous, but not suited for each other as they both didn’t shine as much as they could. So I got this BellaLana ‘sorbet’ wool instead [75% virgin wool, 25% polyamid] and it suits the overall much better. With this I would recommend a wool which doesn’t have colours that distract too much from the stripes which come through quite nicely.

I do like the overall result – I have chosen an even 50 stitches with ten intervals of five as that works well with the dimensions. An earlier version for example had 60 stitches with six intervals of ten which personally made the ‘stripes’ a little bit too thick. However, this is super versatile and can be adjusted either way.

This whole pattern is deceptively simple – for the most part you’re knitting x knit followed by the same amount purl and you repeat that over and over. But each row is slightly different and it’s so easy to not pay enough attention and knit or omit an extra stitch here and there which may require several rows of unravelling. Overall I am very pleased with the final result, but I won’t be knitting another one of these any time soon!

If you would like to make this, here is my pattern. You can cast on any number of stitches, as long as you can split them into an even number of intervals. This pattern assumes you are doing 6 stitches per interval with an even number of intervals. If you’d like to do something which isn’t a multiple of 6 then it’s really easy to change as you will have a gist of the pattern within a few rows and can easily adjust. I’d probably suggest doing a swatch of this 6 stitch pattern first.

  • Cast on any number of stitches that can be divided by 12.
  • Row 1: K6, *P6, K6,* P6 [Repeat between ** until end]
  • Row 2: K5, *P6, K6,* P6, K1
  • Row 3: P2, *K6, P6,* K6, P4
  • Row 4: K3, *P6, K6,* P6, K3
  • Row 5: P4, *K6, P6,* K6, P2
  • Row 6: K1, *P6, K6,* P6, K5
  • Row 7: P6, *K6, P6,* K6
  • Row 8: P5, *K6, P6,* K6, P1
  • Row 9: K2, *P6, K6,* P6, K4
  • Row 10: P3, *K6, P6,* K6, P3
  • Row 11: K4, *P6, K6,* P6, K2
  • Row 12: P1, *K6, P6,* K6, P5
  • Knit until you have your desired length and then cast off.
Posted in Knitting, Knitting pattern | Leave a comment

October 2016 Fitbit data

One of the many pretty pictures from my walks this month, but this one is significant as it was the first 'for pleasure' walk

One of the many pretty pictures from my walks this month, but this one is significant as it was the first ‘for pleasure’ walk

This was the first month where I was properly tracking the data as September was the first month where I started getting out of the house and walking again so inevitably everything is looking improved from the previous month! Mind you, I also covered 83km in September so it’s not like I did nothing that month!

I set myself only one goal for the month: under no circumstances rank worse than the previous one and I’m happy to say that I succeeded! I intend to move forward with very few goals, too. One I have is to reach 42km [marathon length] over a week, as well as reaching 5k steps on at least two thirds of the month.

Overall this is still part of making this a lifestyle change – having data [and a now fancy formula’d up sheet] helps me immensely with motivation though and I find a few of the days I’ve been out I only went out because I wanted to keep a streak going. That part I don’t have a problem with, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to deal with streak interruptions well.

I am certainly getting fitter though – this morning thus far I’ve walked 8.5km and I’m slightly sore [partially thanks to a blister I developed], but not dead and will be heading out shortly to run some errands which will be another 4-5km on top of that. If you’d told me even a month ago that I’d be walking that in one day I’d have laughed so I’m really pleased. Additionally I’m really enjoying the walking without a purpose. Until the middle of the month I still needed a reason, even if it was just to get a couple bread rolls, but now I actually want to go out and head into the countryside and listen to audio books!

Standout walks were two woodland walks coming across pretty clearings and intimidating cows and realising that I love walking through woods, despite the second one being terrible with a far far far too steep incline for me, and various walks around some flatter farming areas.

107km!

Totals: Month Daily average Month before
Steps: 159252 5137 +
Distance: 107km 3.45km +
Total active mins 44597 1487 +
Minutes Lightly Active 39692 1280 +
Minutes Fairly Active 4477 144 +
Minutes Very Active 428 14 +
Avg steps per km 1488   +
Days exceeded 5k steps 14   +
Days exceeded 10k steps 5   +
Days exceeded 15k steps 2   +
Days exceeded 20k steps 1   +
Days exceeded 7km 5   +
Days exceeded 10km 2   +
Days exceeded 15km 0   +

If you’re using Fitbit, too, then you should add me! My Fitbit profile.

Posted in #catgetshealthy, Life in general, Monthly Fitbit data | Leave a comment

October 2016 writing challenge: The Stories

She looked out of the window.

Her last boyfriend had called her a obsessed, a term she only half-heartily argued against. She knew her hobby was unusual though it wasn’t something that was really bad if you really thought about it. I mean really you could say it did good, like that time she called the anonymous tip-line and could describe the group of miscreants to a t and they were arrested just hours later. Or that time she spotted the neighbour’s cat which had been missing for days. She thought it may have been better if the cat remained missing for longer for it spent most of the time in the large dumpster and probably smelled quite pungently by now.

There were many stories she could and did craft, whether it was stories to find the time for her hobby or whether it was the stories of what she saw.

There was the girl she called Amy who had a stunning haircut she no doubt got done quite frequently. She worked at the local coffeehouse and had an ever changing number of boyfriends. Then there was Clarissa who was looking after her father who came round a lot. Or Jeffrey who was once married, but his wife left him with their child. Mark who secretly saw his ex-wife a few times a week thinking his girlfriend wouldn’t know.

She knew all her friend’s stories.

She even knew her boyfriend’s story. He called her obsessive.

She looked away from the window to the crumpled heap next to her as she sat down in the rocking chair ready to watch her stories across the road.

He would never call her obsessive again.

Words: 377
Inspiration: I was going for a sort of creepy Hitchcockian Rear Window vibe, but I don’t think I pulled it off. It’s also late as I was really busy today and wasn’t feeling too well. But if I count if by UK time it’s only an hour late and I’ll be pre-dating the post anyway so no one would have to know really..

At the beginning of the year I did really well to write a little bit each day, but that tapered off due to reasons. For the month of October I’m challenging myself to write at least 250 words on some short story or scene or something per day. I’ll probably use Story Cubes and Writing Prompts for inspiration. These will be unedited and probably rubbish, but by posting them it feels like I’m holding myself accountable and thus will hopefully finish the month.

All stories live in this category: October 2016 writing challenge.

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I am a proud citizen of nowhere

In the latest of depressing soundbites and words to come out of the Tory conference, Theresa May said this in her speech earlier today:

If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.

I am a proud citizen of nowhere – I was born and grew up in Germany, spent most of my adult life in the UK, but have also lived temporarily in Spain for example. Though currently relocating to Germany, I can very easily see myself moving to another European country at some point in my life. I adore Venice [though most likely I will never be able to afford living there!] and also like Amsterdam and have never properly explored Scandinavia.

Through having lived in different places and having friends from all over the world, I am fortunate enough to have been able to learn from different cultures and customs. That mix has made me who I am today and I am lucky that I am shaped of more than just the misguided nationalism of one country. If we don’t approach and welcome other cultures we become closeted and narrowminded racists.

Theresa May does not speak for me and my friends.

Posted in Life in general | Leave a comment

October 2016 writing challenge: The Emails

Ugh. There it was again. That soft chirping beside her that was barely audible most of the times, but in the early hours of the morning with her brain still half asleep and her eyes refusing to cooperate and open fully, it was as loud as a jack hammer would be if it was going off inside her head. Not that she ever had a jack hammer go off inside her head or anywhere within a few metres of her for that matter. The chirping came back. Did it get more annoyed with her with each chirp? She knew that wasn’t possible, but she was happily allowing her brain any kind of tangent on mornings like today. She already knew it would be a bad day, but that was pretty much her normal opinion or any day in those dark and horrible moments before her first cup of tea.

With the next chirp she had enough, opened her eyes and grabbed her phone that was half buried under the pillow next to her. Unlocking it, she saw it was an email notification. Confused she furrowed her brow, she had only one notification per email, who would have emailed her so much this morning? The little envelope icon showed over 30 unread emails. She tapped the icon and waited impatiently for it to load on her slow smartphone, the next phone upgrade wasn’t for another few months. A long list of emails from Rachel B. were in the inbox. Had she scheduled emails again? She couldn’t think of a reason she would have emailed herself so it must have been a different Rachel. She skim-read the subject lines:

Wake up.

Wake up.

Wake up!

Rachel, you need to wake up!

Wake up!!

Come on, wake up!

I hope you’re awake now!

You’re in danger!

You have to get out now!

At 8.30am you will have to be gone

READ THIS EMAIL FOR INSTRUCTIONS.

Confused Rachel sat up in bed. This must be a joke from one of her friends. Her mind wandered around her circle of friends wondering who could have done something like that but none of them were practical jokers and she couldn’t imagine one of them doing something like this. Her mind briefly flashed to her on/off boyfriend of a few years, but she almost immediately dismissed that. Not only was he not the kind to play jokes, but also he would probably want to see the results and he was currently backpacking on the other side of the world. She clicked on the last email in the list:

Rachel,
I know this is hard to understand, but you have to trust me. I am you, just a future you, and I am here to warn you to get out of your flat NOW. They are coming. They will be there at 8.30am.

YOU ARE NOT SAFE.

You need to take the dark purple leather bag, wear those soft straight leg jeans, a black button shirt, and the pale pink jumper you knit last year. Take all the money from the emergency pizza stash and your phone charger.

YOU HAVE TO LEAVE NOW BEFORE THEY COME. HURRY.

Go to the second floor of the library and look inside the red book on Viking history which is hidden in the politics section behind other books. You’ll find all your answers there.

GO NOW. YOU ARE NOT SAFE UNTIL THE LIBRARY.

Rachel x

Rachel’s eyes flit to the phone’s clock. It was 7.35am.

Words: 583
Inspiration: There were about three different writing prompts on /r/WritingPrompts that I saw that dealt with the same subject matter [message to self from the future] just slightly different and I kind of liked the base premise though I don’t think I did a good job with it. Such is life. I’m also not too sure where this would continue to, whether this would have been a joke or something supernatural or historical or set in the future or an alternate plane. So many options yet such little inspiration!

At the beginning of the year I did really well to write a little bit each day, but that tapered off due to reasons. For the month of October I’m challenging myself to write at least 250 words on some short story or scene or something per day. I’ll probably use Story Cubes and Writing Prompts for inspiration. These will be unedited and probably rubbish, but by posting them it feels like I’m holding myself accountable and thus will hopefully finish the month.

All stories live in this category: October 2016 writing challenge.

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