First W/E In May 2017

Despite my attempt to start blogging “I am feeling X” I am still blogging “This is a post about.” Why is this? It seems a difficult trend to shift – changing the way that I blog is problematic: is it a desire to report? Is it how I see my blog? Is it the very backbone of current trends in Blogging? Either way, this is a blog post about my weekend. The first w/e in May 2017.

A lot of fun-time people have started to consider Thursday to be the first day of the w/e – so let’s start there. Me and my good mate Stewart met up at 10 Devonshire for a libation. DJ Trev was holding his annual ‘May the Fourth’ Star Wars Quiz and things were getting a bit shouty. It would have been great to spend time in there pitting our whits against some serious Star War folk but we had other plans – we were going to record a radio show.

So, we hotfooted it over to Allan’s studio, CREAO Studio, and set up for a night of bad links but excellent music. Stewart really tripped himself up with some of the links but I have watched the man blossom. When he started to do his show he could hardly speak the man was so nervous – now, he has volunteered to speak after every track. He is a credit to himself and it seems to have really helped him come out of his shell. Below is his show …

On Friday afternoon I met up with my mum – she made one of her rare trips in to town and we went to Bean & Bud on Commercial street – it really is the best cup of tea (and coffee!) in town. I had a double espresso and mum went for a pot of house blend – we talked small talk and caught up – it was an innocent meeting of family and reassuring. Mum is retired now and they have plans to move out of the area to a more quieter place – It means that meeting up with mum will become a rarer and rarer thing …

Friday night was part of a new wheeze. I was DJing at RETRO Bar under the name “Andy from Guerrilla Dub System.” Things got quite busy and it was a good atmosphere. Thanks to the bar staff for looking after me and keeping the night flowing. I played a good enough set – mixed tempo and mixed in key – but it seemed to go down okay and there were a few people dancing.

Staturday saw Chico’s Revenge – I ordered a Pizza from the Take-away Chico’s, across the road from RETRO Bar, and then fell asleep immediately after scoffing the cheesy bologna delight. It did not site well the next morning so activity was limited to pacing around the flat with stomach cramp.

Saturday afternoon I met Meagn. Megan is the person who started the Recovery Shoebox Project – a mental health tolkit – that she runs by herself. I had an input in to the building of her website. I helped get www.recoveryshoeboxproject.org up on to my server and showed a good friend, Michelle, how to design the thing. It seems Michelle has caught the design bug and could not stop tinkering with the site all the way until it went live. Me and Michelle’s fiancé popped out for a swift half in Major Tom’s then I set about redesigning my web portfolio – www.treebarkdesign.com.

Sunday was a very lazy day: I did not get out of my Pyjamas, hahaha.

Instead I recorded my radio show – I think I have found a good formula for the show – I was worried that people would tire of hearing my voice. So, I went and stopped speaking. However, I felt I was not making enough of a statement with that format for a show – so the below is a compromise. Part DJ set/ Part Speaky speak.

CREAO Studio 4/20

No, not the 4/20 that has so much meaning to my friends – I am merely referring to the date. On the 20th April I set off to CREAO Studio to do the mastering of our second EP – it is a right corker! Due out on the 12th May, it carries on from where we left off with the first EP. Expect plenty of bass and a nod to the founding fathers of dub reggae. Here is the artwork to the EP that I did a while ago –

Pound Of Dub – Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP.

 

Whilst up at the studio I helped record Stewart’s radio show for him: it was a right laugh as Stew’s tongue frequently trips over the more exotic band’s names – he is bloody useless at pronouncing Icelandic singers – but, then so am I; Stewart does not make it easy for himself my playing a Mongolian Nose Flute ensemble quickly followed by a hip-hop act from Soweto. But he gives it his all and it is a pleasure to help out.

Whilst up at the studio I fired off a few shots of my Harinzumi camera – the results are ace! Stewart now wants one of these for Xmas and Daren H. was enamored with the thing too – it really is a winner.

 

CREAO Studio 4/20

First Attempt With My New Harinezumi Guru

Harinezumi is Japanese for ‘Hedgehog’ – it is also awesome as a camera.

To be honest, the cost of film purchase and development had taken the fun out of Lomography. I was worried too much about the cost of the prints that I did not snap away as you should. However, after finding a Japanese site that claimed these cameras were “King of Artistic Digital” I was intrigued.

I found a brand new Harinezumi Guru from 2011 in France and I have been pacing about waiting on Colissimo delivering the thing.

My Harinezumi Guru camera arrived today around 14:50 and I was showered and away from my computer at 15:20. A quick stop at Bass & Bligh later and I had acquired a battery and Micro SD card – unfortunately these are not supplied with the camera – and I headed off to Major Tom’s to read the manual.

Over a friendly, delicious pint of Atom Pale Ale I familiarised myself with the rudimentary controls of the camera – six buttons and that is all you have. I fired off a few in the pub and headed out. Here are the results –

 

First Attempt with My Harinezumi Guru

New Job

To compliment the web/graphic design that I do to help keep a roof over mine and Kathryn’s heads – I have my first set of regular hours for quite some time.

Saturday night saw me DJ in RETRO Bar, Harrogate and I have been offered a residency.

 

 

Above is a practice mix of my set on Saturday – I did not get to play it in it’s entirety having had my set time cut due to blown speakers. But, still – I am now a resident DJ at Retro Bar. Hopefully the following poster that I designed explains it better:

 

Granny B

I am writing this late on Easter Monday’s afternoon – struggling to make sense of my emotions. The weekend got off to a hell of a bad start; on Good Friday my mum phoned to tell me that Granny had passed away peacefully, loosing her battle with Dementia.

The end months were not graceful for Granny B – she was such a proud woman and it was sad to see her laid so low with an illness. She had been battling dementia for a number of years; what a sad, cruel illness.

If it had not been for Granny, I do not think I would have pursued an academic bent towards Zoology & Botany. I studied Wildlife Conservation at Plymouth Uni with the hope of working with the Big 5 in Africa – however, my health intervened on that one. We used to walk miles, despite her age, to see the Canadian Geese that used to stop off on the farm in Norfolk. She was over the moon when I told her I had managed to get a job at Newby Hall as a gardener – she confided in me that she had often thought about dropping out of Nursing and becoming a gardener herself.

However, she was a very good Nurse – a Gold Standard nurse and a Sister, I believe.

I will always remember the time when Granny, the beaming matriarch, took me and my brother and sister down to London to the Natural History Museum – this is what spurred my enthusiasm for wildlife – even if the reason for going down there was to see the Dinosaurs. I managed to sneak through an open door and see some of the private collection – I was so thrilled. I believe she takes her recipe for Seville Casserole (beef and orange hotpot) with her but she leaves a legacy that the greater Leamington area can be grateful for; she worked tirelessly for the regions health cause’s and was eventually awarded an MBE for her services to Health & The Elderly.

When I was told of her passing I did not have mixed emotions – I burst in to floods of tears. But, now the raw grief and shock has gone, I can see that it was her time to go. She is no longer suffering – but there is a granny shaped hole in my psyche.

Below is a photograph of my Grandparents – only Granny Dornoch (on the left) is surviving. Grandpa passed away 1st July 2016 and now Granny B joins him – she will be making sure everything is in order wherever she is.

Dementia really is a cruel illness – Granny was such a proud lady in life, before the illness crept over her. She was the beaming matriarch who would deal out the Chocolate Fudge Pudding to the Children’s table first. She ruled the family with a rod of iron but, ultimately, she was very fair. She had a massive influence on all three of us (me, my brother and my sister) and I do not think we would have got where we are without her encouragement.

In life she was a lion of a woman – age reduced her stature and I have to admit it was not pleasant to see. However, I now need to be there for the rest of the family – God knows what Dad and his three brothers are going through (having lost both their parents in less than a year). All I can do is offer a shoulder of support and bear witness to the great life that Granny Backhouse led.

This Isn’t Spam

I have come to the conclusion that Facebook is now just a tool for promotion.

Be this promotion of the self or promotion of a product or event. Maybe that is something cynical to say – but am I on point on this? If you think so then please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

I am trying to minimise my impact on my friend’s FB feeds by sticking to this blog. I have stopped the auto-publish to FB so that people will have to come to my blog, Ijo Pona, to find out what I am up to and I am not spamming up their feed’s.

This could be be seen as shooting myself in the foot, some people only use their computer to go on FB. However, traffic could dip and lull in getting people this site, but I need to re-evaluate why I blog.

The reason I blog is to keep a tab of what I have been up to – what with my memory and such, keeping tabs on what I have been up to over the past five years that I have been blogging would prove some what elusive. So, why do I need to promote it to FB? Wouldn’t I be compounding the theory that FB is just used for promotion? If I was trying to recruit FB’rs to visit this blog would that very act be ‘promotion’?

In days of yore, people used to post up pictures of drunken nights out and even what they were eating, photos of friends vomiting and cats – now FB has become a marketing tool to ‘further your reach.’ So, I am taking a break from FB (he says) to stick to Blogging a bit more – one of the things I am conscious of is that there is a whole internet lying out there ready to explore and I just stick to a few sites a day, on a loop.

Essentially, the blogging renaissance starts now: Blogging, for when you’re tired of Facebook dramas.

So, what else have I been up to other than thinking of funny things to write about Facebook?

The Weekend

This weekend has been a bit of a conundrum – Friday was spent with Ms Backhouse – we just chilled and pottered around the flat.

Saturday was on Hiatus for me as I had not slept the night in between. Kathryn had a wale of a time as she took her Girl Guide group to Bradford to go to the Media Museum and then ice-skating. She came home tired but satisfied around five in the afternoon to a warm reception from me. I just sulked all day and realised it is best for me to stay from semi-religious children’s units. With my interest in The Occult I really doubt people will let me in a Church.

Sunday has been great so far – I woke up nice and early at eight in the morning after a refreshing 10 hour’s sleep. The birds were tweeting and the sun was shining. A few cups of tea later and I was ready to lounge. I managed to listen to a repeat of Stewart’s Sound Of Wonder on the internet.

I then had a go at recording my own show. Here it is –

It is quite a relaxed show – if it wasn’t for the crap links I do then it will be near a decent production – well, I like the music – although it is not to everyone’s taste.

In other news I spent a good while on Friday eyeing up cheap digital, toy cameras.

Digital Toy Camera

Worry not, parents – this camera would cost US$9.12 on eBay – it has similar (ish) results to my Lomo cameras – as in saturated colours, inherent unpredictability and general awesomeness – but it only costs the price of a roll of film and that film’s development to buy the whole camera. It is very tempting to get it – everyone needs a hobby.

To ask if it is just as good as my DSLR is the wrong question – they are different sports, not different leagues. A completely different concept. With my DSLR I am after resolute documentation and fine images. With this Digital Toy Camera I am hoping for blurry, saturated, off-kilter shots that ooze fun. I think I know which one I would rather take with me to a gig and I think I know which one will get the majority of use – the toy camera, in all honesty.

At US$9.12 is is throw-away cheap – and at £13 to £16 to purchase a film and procure it’s development it really is a no-brainer.

First port of call when checking out a new camera is always Flickr. I am a Flickr Pro and I love that site – I can easily spend hours a day just sat there either curating or browsing – you get to see the world through other people’s microcosms – their little patch of Earth and all the particulars therein – it is a joy to behold. The point of interest is the group “Toy Digital” for this weekend – it has a whole load of images that drew my eye and made me think of digital toy cameras – plus the saving on the money front that going digital would reap.

So, food for though – but not thought for food (I imagine it would taste of Spleen).

1/4 2017 Complete

I am in the process of trying a change of mind set – but it won’t be easy.

The change of Mind is to start thinking of this Blog as if the Blog is asking me the question: “How are you today?” So that I do not go and write a “This is a post about” …post.

It could prove trickier than my last mental shift – the last mental shift I tried was to replace the word ‘sorry’ with ‘thank you.’ So, if I turned up late somewhere I would say “Thanks for waiting” instead of “Sorry.” Instead of saying “Sorry, you are wrong …” I would say “Thanks for your input, but I see it this way.”

Granted it could make me a bit of an annoying optimist – but it reaping rewards in the way I see myself. Confidence is key but I am picking the lock. Either way, we will soon be there. It was one of my New Year’s Resolutions to do so – and – as this is a summary of the first quarter of the year then I wil give myself a big pat on the back – and reply “Thank you.”

My 2017 got off to a bad start with the inauguration of President Trump – the sh*t flinging gibbon has been mad de facto leader of the west and seeks to pocket all of the proceeds (and play golf).

February saw me quite ill – It seems to be around that time of year that my sleep pattern really cocks up and I do not really get out of the flat: I slept all the way through Valentines Day which I am still kicking myself over (and Kathryn keeps reminding me). February saw us loose the worlds best dog. Paddy is no more. His remains are interred in the garden on my parents farm next to Muttley. It was when I came back to the farm on Mother’s Day and opened the door that it really hit me – there was not the waggy-tailed welcome that I had received every time I had walked through the door for the past fourteen years. He was a good pup.

March: well, where to start on that. I was living out the trauma’s of February’s sleep issues right up until the middle of it and then, before I knew it – I was a pop star! Mine and Allan’s release is now in all of the big shops as well as on Spotify. Dig it out – it is pretty heavy stuff …. I also became a Flickr.com PRO and took a whole range of images (some of them are good).

So what have I learned from 1/4 2017 – saying “Thank you” instead of “sorry” works and that the world needs more good dogs & dub.

Ijo Pona Has AMP!

But, what is AMP?

Accelerated Mobile Pages is where your website / blog is a mobile redirect that is not quite a mobile redirect.

The AMP Project is an open-source initiative aiming to make the web better for all. The project enables the creation of websites and ads that are consistently fast, beautiful and high-performing across devices and distribution platforms. Ergo: this site runs quickly on a mobile.

AMP pages are built with 3 core components –

  1. AMP HTML
  2. AMP JS
  3. AMP CACHE

It is the Cache that interests me – The Google AMP Cache can be used to serve cached AMP HTML pages.

The Google AMP Cache is a proxy-based content delivery network for delivering all valid AMP documents. It fetches AMP HTML pages, caches them, and improves page performance automatically. When using the Google AMP Cache, the document, all JS files and all images load from the same origin that is using HTTP 2.0 for maximum efficiency.

The cache also comes with a built-in validation system which confirms that the page is guaranteed to work, and that it doesn’t depend on external resources. The validation system runs a series of assertions confirming the page’s markup meets the AMP HTML specification.

Another version of the validator comes bundled with every AMP page. This version can log validation errors directly to the browser’s console when the page is rendered, allowing you to see how complex changes in your code might impact performance and user experience.

“Here, Buy This …”

Not quite the hard-sell, more a documentation of a milestone – I want to write about something that transpired yesterday: we finished our EP and sent it off to the distributors and hope to get it pressed to vinyl.

If you follow this link to Qrates you will be able to listen the entire EP and – if you were inclined – place a reservation on the EP.

We are currently crowd funding the thing – we do not have the capital to risk on a virgin pressing. So, the idea is that people reserve a copy – they do not get charged for their reservation until we reach 200 reservations.

If we only reach 199 (or less) reservations then the customer does not get charged and the project dies a slow death. So, we have nothing to loose – zero financial outlay and the hope that we have made enough friends to get it pressed.

Meanwhile – here is the artwork; I did it:

The digital copy of the album will be available in all of the big download stores from 24th March 2017. I have it lined up for Beatport, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and all of that.

We have decided to use SILK PR to promote the thing – they seemed to do know what they are talking about so we decided to side with them. They were in budget and promise to do their utmost.

I hope the listeners to the album get as much joy from the thing as we have had making it.

The Restorative Power Of Sleep

As readers of my blog know – I have had quite bad insomnia since 2009. I will sleep for fifteen or sixteen hours and then go three or four days without sleep. I never got to the point where I felt like I had a good night’s sleep – I was like the walking dead most days, unable to function.

Such an episode occurred recently – it was my birthday on Friday and I had not really slept until Tuesday. On the advice of my siblings I got in contact with the local GP and came down to the surgery in crisis. I cannot fault the NHS – from the time I picked up the telephone to speak to the helpful receptionist to holding a prescription in my hand there must have only been an hour pass.

I picked up my repeat prescription and was also given some controlled drugs – they are quite heavy weight but I took one around 4pm (I was having palpitations a that point) and quickly fell to slumber. I was expecting to be out until dawn this morning – but, I woke up 10 hours later completely refreshed!

I feel like a new person!

I had always been wary of taking extra medication – especially for something I considered subsidiary, like sleep – but the effect it had on me is amazing. I did not need to reach for the coffee first thing (at 1am), I did not feel like I could have done with an extra three hours in bed – I felt comfortable, clean and welcome in my own body.

But what happens when I don’t sleep?

Firstly, I will have missed out on one of the biggest benefits of sleep – feeling fresh in the morning!

Secondly, sleep is vital for healthy physical, mental and emotional processing. When I go without sleep, or have insufficient sleep, my body struggles to perform to it’s full potential and, as a consequence, I can expect impairments to my next-day physical and mental performance. The same happens to you, you know.

Due to a close link between certain hormones and sleep, not sleeping has the potential to cause imbalances in hormone activity. Human Growth Hormone, for example, peaks during sleep meaning that insufficient sleep may affect growth and cell-repair throughout the body.

In addition to growth, my metabolism may be affected as well. Studies in which healthy individuals have been sleep restricted have shown that there are alterations to hormones involved in the regulation of appetite and an accompanying increase in seeking out food, as well as glucose metabolism.

What interests me is what happens in the brain when there is a shortage of sleep: overall, research has suggested that normal functioning is likely to be hindered by loss of sleep. Repercussions such as reduced energy levels with bursts of euphoria, unstable moods and excessive sleepiness during the day (obvs.) have all been observed in people who haven’t slept, according to research conducted by S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

Excessive sleepiness can be especially hindering and even dangerous as it tends to be preceded by frequent lapses in focus before individuals fall into a short episodes of sleep, also known as ‘microsleeps’. These episodes are a known contributing factor to traffic accidents with drowsy drivers falling asleep at the wheel (Boyle et al. 2008).

Whilst we can recover from not sleeping very quickly, it can have negative long-term consequences for our health. Chronic poor and restricted sleep are known, for example, to be associated with the development of illness, notably cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancers.

The most well known experiment on total sleep deprivation involved a teenager called Randy Gardner, who managed to maintain wakefulness for 11 days. During this period, he experienced problems with his working memory, speech and eventually hallucinations.

It is safe to say that keeping yourself awake long after feeling the pressure to sleep is unwise. Sleeping is not something humans can choose to do or not to do – it is essential for facilitating normal functioning.

However, this is not a scientific paper – it is a celebration that my brain has had a night’s rest. I missed out on a good swath of my birthday and, poor Kathryn, Valentine’s Day was a bit of a write off – but, I intend to make up for it. So, thanks to M. & A. (my siblings) for getting me to go to the GP.

Boyle, L.N., Tippin, J., Paul, A., Rizzo, M. (2008). Driver performance in the moments surrounding a microsleep. Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 11(2), 126-136.

RIP Paddy

RIP Paddy – he was a good pup.

The realisation that I have seen Paddy for the last time has come true. I do not know if you remember, but in my post Xmas 2k16 Mk. II I mentioned that I thought I had seen my dog for the last time – well, he is now buried next to Mutt in the garden.

On the Sunday evening of the 12th he suffered what appeared to be a stroke – he could not stand or move his head, according to Dad who found him. The humane thing to do was to put him out of his misery and send him to sleep.

It must have been difficult for the vet. Paddy always brightened up his day when he went for his health check – indeed, the vet described Paddy as a twelve year old puppy not so long ago. However, Paddy had been starting to wane over the past eighteen months and arthritis had taken a grip – he was getting confused and his joie de vivre had left him.

However, he was still a very loving animal. Here are some photos of him:

He was happiest when he had something truly smelly to eat – dead carcasses or poo – you name it. He would then come and try and lick my face with his offending tongue and breath that could strip wallpaper.

We got him as a puppy from the Stockman on the farm – he came from working stock so had good instincts. You could not ask to meet a dog who was so full of beans. But, as I mentioned, he waned in his final years – age was not kind to him and he gradually lost the plot.

However, he never harmed a fly – bees on the other hand, he ate bees. He would try and catch them mid-flight and they would sting the inside of his mouth so that we would have to rush him to the vet so he would not go in to anaphylactic shock.

His sex drive was the stuff of legend – regularly he would wonder down to the village, from the farm to have his way with the lady dogs of the village – whether he fathered any pups I do not know, but it is nice to think there is a genetic remnant of him close at hand.

Indeed, his first venture looking for love nearly cost him his life at the age of eight months. He strayed off his hunting ground and wondered on to the main road – he got hit by a truck and thrown in to the hedge. The driver of the SUV, the head chef at the Black-A-Moor Inn, thankfully stopped and went to look. We were told that if he made it through that night then the vet would be shocked – that was thirteen years ago. He carried with him a piece of dislodged bone in his face and a dent in his skull the shape of a Mercedes car headlight until his final trip to the vet.

So, RIP Paddy – gone but never forgotten; you are now re-united with Muttley, chasing bees and smelling the flora in another place.