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Sophie Sheppard
Attends Open University
Lives in Pembrokeshire, UK
1,002 followers|175,804 views


Sophie Sheppard

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Good lord, GooglePlus. I'd almost forgotten its existence. Maybe one day I'll get back into reading and posting here? Or maybe not. Updated my profile, just in case ... I am now studying mathematics with the Open University.
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Sophie Sheppard

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Izzy and her stone shadow, gazing out of the window.
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It's rained a lot the last several nights. I like to listen to it as I fall asleep. It's a good sound - soothing, refreshing. Simple and clean.

There's a good variety of sounds. A good variety of words, too. Plenty of onomatopoea (which is a wonderful word in itself).

There's the splat and the heavy drip drip drip as wind-blown droplets thud against my window, trickle down the wall, fall to the sill. There's a continuous drumroll like a lorryful of sand being unloaded on the conservatory roof, sounding like hail even when it's just a sprinkling. Plinking into puddles, plopping into the pond. And it's softer on the lawn, pattering through leaves and soaking into the soil.

During the day, the blackbirds sing more when it rains. Liquid warbles of birdsong drift through the air as the world stills to shelter and listen.

Rain is good to watch, too. Unless you're cold and it's simply beastly, rain is the best background other than a log fire. The sounds, the scents, the sights. I like to watch drops beading, forming little streams, trickling down a window. I like to watch them hammering down in a wild storm, with the crackle of excitement, the heedless enthusiasm. Squalls and sheets of stair-rods across the valley, or damp drizzle drifting in gusts of fog. Scattered showers sprinkling through sunlight. Cloudbursts, showers, deluges. Rain.

And they say the Eskimos have so many words for snow.
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I cannot recommend this highly enough. To anyone with any interest in space, or science, or geology, or the natural and anthropic world, or photos, or stories, or writing ... it is awesome. Read it. Who wouldn't want to read a blog of what it's like looking out from the +International Space Station?
Wally Wynn originally shared:
The blog of Donald Pettit, currently aboard the ISS:

You notice patterns: clouds over cold oceans look different than clouds over warm oceans. Sometimes the continents are all cloud-covered, so you have no recognizable landmass to help you gauge where you are. If you see a crisscross of jet contrails glistening in the sun above the clouds, you know you are over the United States.

Lightning storms flash like gigantic fireflies looking for mates half a continent away. You see patterns on the ocean surface, swirls and vortices on large scales, wave diffraction patterns around capes, solitary waves forming long lines out in the middle of nowhere, and rivers that look like they are spilling milk chocolate into turquoise oceans.
Out of numerous Kyrgyz lakes, one in particular stands out—Lake Issyk Kul. When seen from orbit, Issyk Kul appears to be a giant eye, looking at us looking down at it. The snow-covered mountains becom...
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I'm a total Pettit fangirl. He makes space so fun.
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Sophie Sheppard

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Poppit running in his wheel, changing his mind and direction a few dozen times. #hamsters are such dear little loonies.
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I have no idea why this has come out squashed. It was perfectly normal when I uploaded it.
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Browsing my Astronomy stream, I found the following gem:
" In Sun's circles: Earth "

This is a shared circle for beautiful and glorious photos, articles and links. I would also include +NASA and +NASA's Earth Observatory.

Also, via +Randy Halverson, +Brad Goldpaint, +Ben Canales and +Tom Lowe (sorry, guys, I got rather confused trying to chase down the original author/s!) et al, there are more circles of Night and Star photographers at , and .
**** originally shared:
Space Circle

Please share :) Thank You!
In this Circle:
Earth, Neptune, Milky Way and 47 more
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Another one for the list: +Universe Today .
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My sister likes penguins. I was feeling silly. When I saw this one online, I couldn't resist having a go ... so, one penguinful of fudge as a christmas present!
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Izzy loves sunshine and toe-polishing.
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A deliciously snarky commentary on recent science / health / medicine "news" stories. Critical thinking, analysis and consideration of all the evidence are important; just because something has been published in a journal or a newspaper or a blog (even if it is a respectable or trusted one) does not mean that the author's interpretations are the most important and accurate messages.
Lars Søpstad originally shared:
Oh dear... Those are breakthroughs? I'm no medical expert but I do own a body so let's see:

1. Yoga helps against back pain. Really? Being physically active actually helps your body? Woah. This refers to a study where yoga was found to be as effective against back pain as stretching. There's a control group that were "given books on self-care" but no mention of how they compared. So, we conclude that the #1 breakthrough is the discovery that yoga is actually physical exercise.

2. Acupuncture can reduce stress. This is interesting. Oh, it's a study on rats.There are very few facts given in the article and the published science is behind a paywall. So many questions unanswered but they tell us it's a breakthrough so it must be.

3. Tai-Chi found to aid heart failure patients. Another study that finds physical excercise and/or meditation to improve quality of life. Astounding. The control group did something called time-matched education, and I willingly admit I have no idea what that is.

I'm pretty tired of this article already but let's do one more

4. CAM use better understood. This keeps getting better: "Adults who use complementary and alternative medicine for general health reported having better health than those who turned to CAM in order to treat a specific illness" - So what they're saying is that healthy people who believe in CAM enough to use it even if they're not sick actually feel better than sick people who turn to CAM in desperation. And that's supposed to be a good thing.

Ok ok just one more.

5. Acupuncture deemed safe for kids. It's safe people. It doesn't help much but at least it's safe. Somewhat. Just a little crying and bruising for not much benefit. (No mentions of punctured lungs here.)

That's about it. You can go look at the rest for yourself. Lots of really big big breakthroughs in a year where pesky science-based medicine only managed a few little meaningless things. Like the beginnings of a breast cancer vaccine[1], several promising trials of malaria vaccines[2], Alzheimer antibodies [3], and a number of others. But yeah. Physical exercise and a focussed mind does a body well. That is huge.


#health #cam #alternativemedicine #acupuncture #medicine
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Thanks! It is the Huffington Post so it's pretty easy to be snarky...
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A very good blog post about misogyny, focusing on one horrifying yet sadly common incident. All kinds of isms are a bad thing for a community; excusing and ignoring them - however well you might mean, even if you had not thought of what you were doing as that - does not help, and only makes things worse.

Everyone should be able to expect to be treated like a human being, not a target for insults, attacks, belittling and ignoring.

This blog post discusses a fifteen-year-old girl who posted a picture of herself holding a skeptic/science/atheism book by Carl Sagan, gifted from a religious parent, on the Atheism section of Reddit.

What should have happened there was people saying "Awesome! Good for you and good for them! What other books have you read? What's on your wish list? Let's talk about books and discuss ideas."

What actually happened was graphic threats of sexual violence.

This is not acceptable.

"Don't feed the trolls!"
"Meh, that happens all over the internet."
"But not all of /r/atheism is like that ... not all atheists are like that ... I'm not like that."

Don't. Please. Don't excuse it, don't ignore it, don't condone it. Don't be a dick, don't let other people be dicks.

Please, read the article. Think about the things it mentions. Read the comments too - plenty more to think about in there.

And let us all be better human beings for thinking about things.

Original post (edit: also shared by +Emily Finke
Chris Clarke originally shared:
"It’s not all about you.

"And if you’re acting as if accusations of misogyny are all about you… maybe that’s something you should be looking at."
Sophie Sheppard's profile photoRyan Escherich (Daemon Thanatos)'s profile photo
Okay...In all honesty? I hate when people verbally attack others...or threaten them...hell, I've suffered the brunt of much hate in my life. It was only a couple years ago when I finally said to myself that I'd had enough...and I stood up for myself. What we're doing here is letting the victims continue to receive sympathy. What we SHOULD be doing is telling them how to go about solving this.

If someone has a problem with what you do, or who you are? You can tell them to go the hell away. Or go fuck themselves. The point above, about not ignoring it...yes, I support that. Don't ignore when people are assholes. Don't let them stomp all over you. Give them a piece of your mind...and don't stop there. If it's dark enough...let 'em take a hike through YOUR territory. Let them see just how freaky your mind is.

I have a lot of friends who, after a few incidents, are TERRIFIED to take another look at my mind. And it's all because I showed them just what it's like in there. That...and they're terrified to see me angry again. They know what I'm like. I'm violent. I'm unforgiving. And I'm relentless. I will not stop unless someone else stops me first. So show them your backbone...and give 'em the evil eye.
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Well, I appear to have broken my laptop just in time for the holidays. It's been running hot for a while, despite my best efforts at fan-cleaning with compressed air; and now it has gone quiet, but hotter still... and it just switched itself off with a little beep, just as I had got into BIOS to try and check CPU temperature. Oh dear.

And of course, with msvcr.exe malfunctioning, my backup is more than a month out of date. Very oh dear.

This is the worst time of year for it to happen, of course. I have to wait until Monday to even ring the tech support line (they shut down for the holiday les than an hour before it went ping) - and even then, probably nothing will happen until at least Wednesday. So, my various lovely friends, I regret to inform you that I will be out of touch for a while: luckily I have email and G+ on my phone, but chat is just too painfully slow.

(Things like this always happen at the worst time, of course. Sods Law is alive and well. Last winter, the Aga started dying as soon as the parents went off to Edinburgh; despite daily visits by our lovely carpenter/engineer friend, it wouldn't stay lit until the thaw. And then a pipe burst in the garage roofspace (despite having put a heater up there), soaking all the stores and spoiling a lot of stuff. The year before, this laptop was an emergency replacement for one that started sparking and smoking while I was away from home at a fortnight of college.)

I guess, then, all that remains is for me to enjoy Christmas with my family, play with the cat and the hamster, read books, bake cakes, play with the new icecream-maker and so on instead of sitting around hunched over a laptop playing pointless games and writing nonsense. Isn't that awful?
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No collection today. The poor guy rang to say "I'm out on the Dale road (ie, miles from anywhere) and the van has broken down!" A dead gearbox is not the sort of thing you can fix quickly or cheaply. And now he's behind on schedule, so probably has the bosses breathing down his neck as well as having to ring all the customers to apologise for something he can't help, while not knowing when he'll be able to deliver...
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Another #googleplusupdate ! This one is to help kill spammers (sadly, not literally).
Pras Sarkar originally shared:
The quality of conversations on Google+ is something we take very seriously, so we’re happy to announce that we've finished rolling out our new comment spam moderation system.

Now, if we identify a possibly spammy comment on your post, we'll immediately mark it for your review. During this time:

- Other viewers won't see the comment at all.
- You'll see it grayed out, with the option to remove or restore -- both of which help train our systems.
- The commenter won't notice any difference (unless their comments get removed, of course).

Remember, if you see spam, flag it! Each flag helps train our systems to be smarter and faster in the future.

Let us know what you think, and please keep the feedback coming!


Some of the people who made this possible: +Saurabh Sharma +Tony Tran +Nandini Kappiah
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30/F/UK, "Buddleia" on II. I'm interested in science, nature, wildlife and photos. G+ tip: if you find it boring here, find more interesting people!
About me
Hamster addict, cat adorer, wildlife watcher. Gadgets-that-go-beep geek, computer player, everything-learner. Science enthusiast, foodie, hobbyist cook, bookworm. I'm 30, female, and live in Pembrokeshire, UK. Currently studying Mathematics with the Open University.

If I've circled you on G+
it's probably because I thought you'd posted something interesting or awesome! I love science, nature photographs, and cute things. I'm interested in social, political and human rights and freedoms; atheism, skepticism, gender equality, etc. 

I've also got a few circles of mutual interests, people I might want to share things with. You don't have to circle me back unless you want to read what I have to say.

What I post: publically, it's mostly recipes and anecdotes, and I reshare a few of the particularly useful posts about how to use G+. If you'd also like to hear about Improbable Island things, tell me!

If you're looking to get started on G+, l can share useful links including circles of interesting people and pages - photographers, thinkers, science, astronomy, and other entertaining folks. 

If your stream is boring, it's because you haven't yet found enough interesting people to follow! (And if your stream is exploding, then try browsing by circles rather than all at once.)

If you've Circled me, I'll probably Circle you back if I see anything I recognise in your profile or posts. If I don't (which could be because I hadn't got around to it or I forgot), and you really want me to Circle you, send me a message saying hi, who you are, and why - e.g. do you like my posts? Do you have similar interests? Do you know me from somewhere else?
Bragging rights
X-ray machines and radioactive sources? They're fun to play with.
  • Open University
    Mathematics, 2013 - present
    MST121: coursework 98%, exam 80% MS221: current
  • University of Birmingham
    Natural Sciences, 2003 - 2008
    Biochemistry and Chemistry
  • De Montfort University
    Clinical Technology, 2008 - 2010
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