Out and About

After a long day of work as one of the senior staff on duty, followed by my regular biweekly Saturday evening counselling session, I eventually made it up to the Novotel Excel for a little before midnight to join the rest of the household. It meant that I could be with them for day two of the Social In The City event – and while it just isn’t my thing, it was a delight to see how excited boy s, the niece and nephew, and the cub were. I did the coat holding and bag-carrying thing as my brain weasels were in revolt, and my stomach decided to flare up – but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the people watching. If nothing else, seeing the hero worship reactions was both delightful and entertaining.

For her part, Lady M went into shameless networking mode with the youtubers and podcasters in attendance. Her positivity and directness looks to have nabbed a number of high profile LGBTQIA commentators to participate in future discussions, and I can’t wait to see what comes of those contacts. It was a rare chance to see her at work in that aspect of her passion project: namely, the identification and planning of future content, and ways to widen conversations and discussion. Her Two Women In Tech podcast (available all over the place but start with Spotify and Apple) and her wider TWITT projects are deeply personal, and related to her belief in building people up and opening opportunities. That’s why it was lovely to see and hear the enthusiasm on various people’s faces as she told them about what she was doing and invited them to take part. I shall await the results with interest

For my part, to settle my nerves and rest my aged aching body, I settled near the coffee stall and edited up an old sketch on the laptop in between retrieving lost children as they disappeared and reappeared without telling anyone where they were off too.

Yes, there will be a tshirt

Its one I did with a variety of metallic ink pigment ink pens a few years ago on black craft paper. I tried an edit at the time but could quite make the colours pop, but this time with some filter layers and light rendering on the filter layers I was able to bring more a vivid flame flicker to match the lines. I also resampled it in slightly different proportions as it originally didn’t quite work in my eyes. I’m much happier with the new proportions and resulting better clarity of facial features that have resolved while working on it.

I might not be feeling great, but I can take some measure of satisfaction in being able to create and produce images that catch the eye. It’s particularly enjoyable as a reclamation of skills I’ve not felt able to use in a while – and is especially warming when the act of revisiting an old piece I’ve discarded creates something better than it was when I started.

But I digress – we all got home and my body decided it wasn’t going to cooperate any more, so I’ve spent the best part of the late afternoon asleep and trying to settle after a broken night. I’m getting very tired of being ill so regularly. Hopefully the various investigations under way will pinpoint what the problem is so we can deal with it.

Podcasting? Me?

Whatever is he up to now? Well, mostly prompted by a series of persistent options in my WordPress dashboard I decided to experiment with turning blog entries here into podcasts. I’ve seen Lady M do similar with her TWITT project and enjoy the process, so while I was having a quiet lunchtime break I started clicking buttons. WordPress seem partnered with Anchor to provide this set of functions, so after mere seconds I was presented with a big long list of blog entry text and the option to automatically convert these to audio with a choice of pre-generated voices.

I’ve worked in tech and with tech for long enough to remember the sheer tedium and pain of trying to get automated systems to pronounce seemingly innocuous words in any semblance of how they should be, so I hesitated before pressing the buttons and opted to record one myself. In this instance the blog entry immediately preceding this one about having an night on my own.

So, other than ego, why have I opted to do this? Well believe it or not I have an ulterior motive and its to do with making my writing more accessible and easy to read. I’ve long been a subscriber to the practice of reading what I write out loud anyway as a simple way to see if I’ve punctuated my sentences. I have a tendency to ramble. You may have noticed. At its best, the written word should ebb and flow like a river with differing sentence lengths and cadences. Reading aloud helps remind me to breathe.

So, you get to hear me try not to faint while reading out my longer sentences, and hopefully that will translate into better reading experiences for people – whether for fiction, or simply work emails. And yes, I will be recording this too.

The link for the podcast by the way is https://anchor.fm/tim-maidment7 – and I’m in the process of signing up the rss feed with a variety of providers.

So far you can listen on Apple at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/timmaidment-com/id1597578500 and on Spotify at https://open.spotify.com/show/3WC9JGf1P6V8xnsOUon87l

Time Alone

There’s a convention on this weekend focused on Streamers and YouTubers up at the Excel and so most of the household plus E2 the niece and nephew are off to visit their various favoured people. I am working so haven’t accompanied them and so last night I had a rare night on my own curled up with a montage of Mock The Week video clips and a pile of bacon butties as I used up things from the fridge. I may also have indulged in a bottle of wine too.

I needed the time alone. This has been a very stressful week at work with a new set of systems and processes coming online alongside a number of site and personnel issues that have left me with very few reserves to then deal with a rambunctious plague goblin. I suppose I shouldn’t call him that any more as he has tested negative and can now go back to school. Either way, being a typical ten year old he is busy pressing buttons and pushing boundaries and I’ve come very close to snapping and losing my temper. I can at least take a measure of comfort that I didn’t, and instead stepped away and got boy s to take over.

I have since been feeling awful about it, but I am reminded by several people that feeling angry is valid and that the important thing is that I didn’t lose control or do anything harmful – I retained the presence of mind to step away and ask for help so shouldn’t be beating myself up over something I didn’t actually do.

So, having a night to myself, and a day working alone in the office before I go join them for Sunday is a good thing and I feel a lot calmer. I imagine the nurse reviewing my blood pressure on Monday will thank me for taking care of myself – which reminds me, I need to submit a week’s worth of readings tonight as part of my review. There’s always something to do…

After that, paperwork for sorting out a referral for further investigation of my stomach issues. What joy… I suspect the various threads are related.

Sudden Remembrances

I’ve been meaning to catch up with myself with regard to the Surrey History Centre and the conversations I had back in August about submitting material. I finally got round to it today in between meetings and crises.

I wrote back at the time, a little about how at the beginning of the first lockdown we looked for ways to create a safe lgbtqia+ online support space for ourselves and it seemed a good point now to revisit that and write it up as an essay and commentary for the archives. The SHC agreed, so that’s my immediate writing project sorted, and one that I will try and keep some momentum on over the next few days.

If nothing else it will be a good procrastination piece in between my various other deadlines.

On a whim, I then asked if they’d be interested in my journals and sketchbooks down the line. Apparently as a resident of Surrey, and an employee of Surrey County Council, and a member of the SCC LGBT Staff Network I am of triple interest to the archives and so they would be delighted with anything I pass their way.

So, without being in any way morbid, I guess I’ve found a home for my journals and other books when I don’t need them any more. It raises an interesting image of future historians trying to make up theories about my art and writing as illustrations of these weird times we’re in.

I quite like the thought of that.

Home Almost Alone

Lady M and boy s have gone off for the night to go see Sarah Millican up in town, so I’ve had a quiet evening with the plague goblin.

We had a pizza and xbox night, at least until he got tired of not being able to shoot bots while playing Halo and having to contend with real people instead. We also played some other stuff before the lure of YouTube pulled him away.

Its been nice. Quiet with occasional bouts of cuddles and demands for ice cream – and it sounds like the partners had a lovely evening out. The goblin is still awake, but is lying in his own bed quietly listening to the noises of the building and not causing any troubles. I expect he will be difficult to rouse in the morning.

Sleep soon for me I think

Covid Life

Well the little plague goblin’s PCR came back as positive but as the rest of us are double jabbed we don’t have to isolate – just him. We’re going to organise PCR tests anyway just to double check even though our lateral flow tests remain negative.

That would be enough on its own but this week seems determined to throw obstacle after obstacle in the way, which is probably why I’m currently sat in a closed library waiting for a BT engineer to remote fix an issue that has in traditional fashion been bounced between several different services to try and fix – and that it feels like the least stressful part of my week to date.

Mostly I’m just reminding myself that I need to keep time and energy for myself so that I can support colleagues and family and friends. Its a very familiar refrain and so if sitting on my own in an empty building forces me to do so then I’ll accept the unexpected respite time with as much good grace as I can muster.

Plague-U-Like

An interesting few days, with the stomach continuing to rebel, and then breaking out in hives all over my body as a side effect of the meds, a general tired malaise… and then the cub being sent home sick and testing positive for covid on a lateral test – the cub, that is, not me.

So in between dealing with work enquiries, we took him for a drive through covid pcr test, which I had to administer due to his age. He was very brave through the tears and we got it done fairly quickly. Now we just wait for the results.

Being a true plague rat, he has little care for how Lady M and I are working and that therefore we can’t play games with him. I’m sure he’ll settle at some point.

Morning All

It’s that quiet moment before the household properly wakes. I can hear very little from outside thanks to the new double glazing, but I’m sure life is quietly bustling.

Here indoors though, I think the cub is rousing and is probably playing Geometry Dash on his PC. Lady M is probably asleep on the sofa (it’s my turn there tonight), and I have boy s asleep on my chest, face softened in slumber.

I’ll have to wake him in a bit as he has a flat viewing to go to – the search for a place for him and the cub to call their own is on in earnest now.

It’s otherwise looking like a busy day. We have a new cooker being delivered this afternoon so I’ll start looking to make sure access is clear for that, and I’ve just had email confirmation of work approving a hybrid work car through a salary sacrifice scheme which is a bit exciting.

Right, the day beckons. I can see daylight.

Yes, I’m Old

This isn’t going to be one of those posts bemoaning the youth of today or my not knowing who any given YouTuber may be outside the limited circle if my interests. There’s no qualifier to that statement. It’s far more fun leaning in on people’s inability to accurately tell my age and making statements that leave people frowning and doing some mental calculations.

For a good few years the revelation that I have a daughter (The Charleesi) who has not only graduated from University but is holding down a full-time job was enough to prompt variants on a theme of “but you don’t look old enough!” What can I say? Good genetics and marrying young seem to have made me, for now, a bit ageless in appearance?

Or there’s the look of confusion when I mention I’m older than Google, or indeed the world wide web – or inform the cub that I’m nearly five times older than he is.

I’d have thought the copious amount of grey and silver in my big bushy beard was a bit of a giveaway, but maybe some people think it’s just highlights or something.

Perhaps it’s just having reached a relatively fearless point in my life where I’ll happily tease people or play word games that veer into strange territories that make people wonder if they actually heard me correctly.

As long term friends will attest, even that is nothing new. Maybe one of these days I’ll end up being the dirty old man in the corner that no one pays any heed to.

It all sounds rather exhausting.