Weeknotes 020 and 021 - Lockdown

Skipped weeknotes last week because I was stupidly busy. Going to vaguely bullet-point this week because I'm still stupidly busy.

My social media [Instagram, Twitter, Facebook] suggest that I'm an artist who does art all the time. The truth is of course that like all social media it's fake, I'm pretending to be an artist and playing the role of being one in a fake it until you make it kind of way.

My days are split up into the first hour of the day, setting the pen-plotter away if I have something new to plot. Sometimes putting the camera on a tripod to make a time-lapse, other times just taking snaps and short videos. If I don't have anything new to plot, then I'll go back and made videos of a previous one that I didn't particularly make a fuss over.

Then I'll move onto my day job, which is helping museums get their content online, something which they seem even keener on getting done now, for obvious reasons. A handy-wavy generalisation is that museums were told they had to digitise all their stuff. Now having done that they have everything sitting in, most likely, one of the two main "catalogue/asset management systems". Part of my role is to get the content back out of those systems and into an API, so other people can then use that API to get the bits and bobs online.

So my life is relatively unaffected by the whole lockdown thing, if anything it's gotten busier. The pen-plotter art is a way to bookend the days, to stop work spilling over into "life" and screwing the work/life balance, and attempt to keep me somewhat sane.

In the evening, I'll take the photos and videos from the morning, or the previous day and try to turn them into an Instagram video. I'm giving myself the challenge of posting something new every 2-3 days, even if that new thing is actually old.

At some point, I'll run out of the backlog of old stuff and have to pull my finger out and get on with cranking out more art. By which I mean, being creative(tm)

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Covid Hot take #1, we now have more culture outside of London.

With everything shutting down there's suddenly a lot of theatre, comedy, art, musical performances going online. All the type of stuff you usually only get in London. Want some culture? Live in London? Grab a Time Out magazine and pick something.

But now, suddenly, I have access to a lot of this stuff, almost an overwhelming choice. There is now too much to see live at any one moment.

As an Asperger's person, who really can't handle being in crowded spaces, this is ideal. Recently I've had the chance to watch a couple of my favourite musicians not only perform some of their songs, but they've also been chatting with fans in a lovely informal manner. I get that not touring equals not getting any money, and performing online isn't a replacement, but I am finding myself buying music off Bandcamp more to support them.

It also feels a lot like the start of the web, when it was a bit of a wild frontier, and people were trying to do this kind of thing. The difference is people wanted to do it on their own "homepages", and now it's on YouTube, or Facebook, or that other bit of Facebook.

But it does have the feeling of chaos, rather than smoothly PR controlled "content". I give it about 6 months before this new chaos gets neatened up, packaged up and monetised.

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Talking of Asperger's, I got myself one of those "Hidden Disabilities" Sunflower Lanyards. I feel a bit odd about it, like I haven't got a real disability, and I shouldn't have one as I appear normal. But since getting diagnosed with Asperger's (being neurodiverse) I've noticed that yes, sometimes I do have problems in supermarkets and the like. I'm not going to be using it to get into the early-supermarket hours, or to skip queues or anything. But I do feel that it now gives me the chance to slow down and deal with things at my own pace.

My main problem (while shopping, for example) is that I miss a lot of cues when it comes to being given instructions. People seem to talk in a shorthand that other people magically understand and takes my brain a good while to untangle. I usually deal with this by either doing shopping online or going when it's not busy while wearing headphones and shades, using the self-scanner and self-checkout. Thus not having to interact with anyone at all.

The moment something different happens, like someone tells me "You need to go stand over there." my brain, instead of just going "Oh, ok, I'll go stand over there" goes "Why? Am I standing somewhere wrong? What's better about being over there? Why is this person telling me to move over there? What do they actually mean by 'move over there.' Do they mean, right now, or when I'm next ready to move? If I move there will I be in someone else's way, I very explicitly moved here because here is quieter/calmer/further away from people."

And if I don't move there, or don't move there fast enough, will the person get annoyed at me, will everyone else get annoyed at me?

Then I have to do the thing I've practised which is to go "Pretend you're a normal person, how would a normal person react in this situation?" and then try to do that.

I feel that having the sunflower lanyard means I can point at it and go "thank you for being patient with me; I don't deal with people very well."

We'll see how it goes.

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Sending postcards.

I've been plotting and sending out some more postcards. It's fair to say I'm not very social on social media, or text message, or Slacks or any of the other platforms created to help people keep in touch. More anxiety and dread, but I do enjoy sending out letters now and then, although I worry that it then puts anxiety and dread onto the other person.

Anyway, I've also enjoyed making nice big A3 pen-plotted "art", but sending someone a A3 poster is kind of putting them in the suddenly awkward situation of having to deal with: what the fuck to do with an A3 piece of paper. Postcard sized things, by which I mean: postcards, are much more practical. Easy to post, easy to prop up against something, or BlueTac on a wall, easy to pop into the recycling.

Slow, asymmetric communication, that I can handle.

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Covid hot takes #2, Shrewsbury Floods.

At roughly the time covid would have been coming into the country, and people would have been passing it to each other, before it started kicking off, Shrewsbury had floods.

For about a week our town centre was practically shut. Shops were shut, schools were shut, people had to work from home. Then everything got back to normal for about two weeks, before the covid caused everything to shut down again.

I have a small suspicion that on a very local level our town has been behind the rest of the country by about seven days because of it.

There is no way to know this of course, but I wonder if the flooding here saved a few lives.


• It's been a long time since I was last followed on twitter by a San Francisco building, but I guess you never get to truly escape.

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Music rights, Blue Danube.

When I make videos for YouTube or Instagram I use music from Epidemic Sound because I have to accept the fact that I don't have time to make my own music as well as everything else.

However, for a recent pen-plot, it was very important that I used the Blue Danube music. So I hunted down a royalty-free version. I posted three videos using the music and each time I got a "Your video has been removed for copyrighted music", and each time I hit the appeal button and it got restored within seconds.

What a fucking pain in the ass that is.

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Blatant self promoting calls to action

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