This and That

In a not unexpected shift, the changes in legislation now mandate we wear masks when working with the public, and I have no problem with this. Quite aside from the actual protection of others element it also engenders confidence in us on the part of our more vulnerable customers, and that is a massive bonus.

In building works news, we can now tell when its tea and lunchbreak times as the nonstop jcb drilling ceased three times for that today before resuming. I may have smiled benificently in their direction when it started raining heavily.

On the creative side, aside from the sketch above, I’ve also been doing some more emoji designs for myr s’ twitch channel and am closing in on the final versions there too.

Helping People

I seem to have spent portions of the last few days on the more pastoral side of management. You get weeks like this, where people are having a crisis of confidence, or have had problematic things happen through no fault of their own.

Thankfully my own wobbles from last week have passed, so I’ve been able to be present for people. Some of the support has been easy enough, where a listening ear and positive affirmation is all that has been expected or needed. Far more difficult have been conversations where there have been tears.

Still, we’ve pulled through so far so there’s something to be proud of. Now if we could have slightly less noisy building work next door tomorrow, that would be lovely.

Trundling Along

One of the joys of working in a library is seeing the local community ambling along to do their best in these strange times. I see families of all ages, people needing to print packing labels, job hunters, students, and people who really just need someone to talk to for a couple of moments while they’re out of the house.

Yes, there are occasions that are challenging, and the variability of days working with the public is a double-edged sword, but on balance I’m proud of making little differences here and there, trundling along.

Careful Choices

I’m finally getting head around the Amazon Merch scheme, in as much as how the Tier system works: essentially they are labelled with numbers that correspond to how many products or designs that you can sell at any one time.

As of the time of writing, I am in the basic level called Tier10, which allows ten designs. For the curious they can be found by searching for Ludd Clothing on the Amazon website. My original reading of the documentation led me to believe that this meant I could have multiple items with the same design so that there would be ten designs but umpteen items based on those designs.

Its not quite so generous – understandable from a quality control point of view – being ten designs including variants such as t-shirt or sweatshirt. The tier level won’t go up until I have sold ten items and the designs manually checked. The next tier is 25.

So I’m carefully monitoring and adjusting what I have up there while continuing to expand the RedBubble Ludd72 range of designs that includes clothing, stickers, prints, phone cases, and all sorts of odds and ends.

Depending on feedback I may change around what is on offer to differentiate between the stores more, but if nothing else the whole exercise has been good practice reminding me of what I can do with Photoshop Elements.

In the meantime, here’s a quick and totally mercenary nudge to buy my stuff?

Spoons Management

I’ve been reviewing staff risk assessments over the last couple of days, checking how people have been coping with being back at work. Its part of an ongoing one-to-one process we’ve been doing as we get the libraries reopened to ensure that we are able to properly support people’s physical and mental health during this extremely unseated time.

I am very lucky that the people I’m managing are pragmatic and well-motivated. There are one or two who have needed more support than others for a variety of reasons, but without fail each person in the review to date has been positive and expressed a relief at how smoothly things have been going. For the most part everyone has been relieved to find that their worries have not materialised. Dare I say it, but we’ve even had smiles.

I have to say that I am exhausted, but its not from the day to day of the library. Instead we are still in limbo at home waiting on Lady M’s MRI, which we just learned was cancelled as the hospital accidentally discharged her when they let her come home. For some reason it is now up to us to chase and rearrange it so we can get a clear picture of what’s going on. Lady M is bearing up as well as you could hope for, but the worry is taking its toll on both of us.

For my part I’m just exhausted, all the time, and a bit numb when I’m not. Understandable really, but its not depression, its just what my counsellor calls over-saturation and I call running our of spoons. Catnaps and an early night beckon to rebuild my energy for tomorrow. And in the meantime I distracted Lady M with a new Funko that I knew she’d been admiring

Hot and Bothered

It is lovely and hot here, with gentle breezes now and then that brush across the balcony. At least it is more comfortable now than when the full heat of the sun was in play.

The good news for me was that I was working in an air conditioned library. We’ve been moving furniture, laying down vinyl signs and hazard tape, and generally getting ready to open in a couple of weeks.

Its going to be an odd experience re-openimg, and there’s still disquiet over what may yet happen. It has only ramped up with seeing footage of people abandoning all pretense of distamcing. Beaches, rivers, pubs – all swamped by people who seem to believe that the danger is past.

I really wish I believed that. I really wish that things were safe enough to see loved ones, family, and friends.

Working Pride

Sadly with lockdown still wreaking havoc there’s absolutely no chance of getting to a Pride event this year, but at least through work there is an opportunity to celebrate a little.

I’m working as part of the LGBTQ+ Pride Network where I am, and this week has seen an invitation go up on the staff Jive network to post rainbows either as flags, themes, filters or whatever for Pride.

Cue one virtual Pride picture

Its only a little thing, but seeing everyone putting up posts is heartening. The rainbow Funko has been produced by them in support of Pride and the It Gets Better Project with part of the proceeds going to that charity.

So there’s a positive thing.

Battling the Fear

Lady M had to pop out this morning to drop some things to the post office, and then get some ingredients to do some baking. All things that sound innocuous enough, but when she returned, she was exhausted – and revealed that her stress levels had spiked so hard when getting to the supermarket that she’d had to stop and have a bit of a breather. This is not unlike the sort of conversations I’ve been having with staff this week.

The UK government decided to lower it’s pandemic severity rating from a 4 to a 3 this week, to catch up with the announcement the week before that it was going to recommend more places opening up. There are more than a few medical and clinical workers facepalming at the moment, but in truth it is a political decision as much as an interpretation of the highly contentious statistics of infections and deaths.

Lady M, like many of my staff, have obeyed the lockdown – in no small part because they’ve been working from home and so haven’t had the experience of seeing people getting used to the strange interpretations of social distancing and mask wearing that different people have been making. I’ve been able to get out and do grocery shopping while she’s been battling work issues so my usual internal grump is around the anticipation of queueing a while.

By comparison, Lady M has also had to battle the stark clash between media sources urging care and the reality of the Great British public who are worse than a bundle of cats for staying and doing what they’re told. I shall continue to bear this in mind as we work to get the libraries open safely for both staff and customers. On both sides we will have people who are rightly nervous on some level about accessing the buildings and the treasures they contain – and I hope we can maintain both understanding and kindness in the process.

Buy My Stuff

Might as well be blatant about it for a moment. After years of people saying “oh you should do this professionally”, or “you could sell your art” I’ve caved and opened a Redbubble store at Ludd72.redbubble.com and begun filling it with both old and new stuff. Some of it will have been seen on Instagram in some form or another, but a lot of it is going to be brand new as I’ve been taking fresh photos of some of my line art.

Yes, this design is in the store

There’s prints, canvases, stickers, pins, some t-shirts, dresses hoodies, even a couple of clocks and duvet covers, all depending on the resolution of the original artwork and I’m going to keep adding to it – because we all know I can’t stop drawing stuff even if I wanted to. A lot of my older stuff tended to be done for web sites only, so they’re only really suitable for smaller pieces – so at the very minimum there will be pins/badges with those designs – but newer stuff and actual photography will be on the larger items.

Go on, have a look, put a smile on my face and maybe get one on your own…

I’m not good at this commercial stuff…

Seeing Happy Faces

I’ve carried on with doing risk assessments with my staff the last couple of days. If there’s been one common observation it has been the look of relief on people’s faces as I’ve let them into the building.

Many of them haven’t been far from their houses during lockdown – for a couple it was one of their first forays out of their house – but each of them visibly relaxed their shoulders and smiled as they re-entered the library and saw colleagues.

I don’t know about anything else, but those moments alone have made the effort of the last few days worth it.