Journal

  • 6 lake lengths

    Managed to do 6 lengths of the lake today. Over 1.5km swim. Given my post viral fatigue issues and lack of running from arthritis and gout, I’m happy with that. Slow but progressing.

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  • Eurovision 2023

    We’re rewatching Eurovision before it leaves BBC iPlayer. It’s still incredibly surreal to see my home, places I work as a photographer, and clients on the show. Absolutely wild. I’m sure this year’s will be fun, but 2023’s in Liverpool was something else.

    The love for Ukraine in the city was everywhere. The acceptance of everyone, no matter how you presented, what your gender was, whether you supported Everton or Liverpool, the city was unified by music. The city felt modern, alive, and diverse in a way I’ve not seen before and I’ve been photographing events there for over 15 years. Eurovision in Liverpool transformed the city into the best version of itself. It’s always a good city, but that time… I wore a sparkly dress for 3 days. 3 whole days. No issues, just love.

    Here are some of the highlights, and I have more on my photography portfolio, and a few thoughts on my newsletter Hello Computer.


  • Uni

    This blog was started while I was at Liverpool John Moores University, in 2000 on a BSc (Hons) Software Engineering degree. The photo here is me at uni. Remember big monitors?

    I graduated in 2001 and I haven’t seen my friends from that time since. Tomorrow I will. It’s been a lifetime since then. I’m no longer in that world, but I’m still fascinated by it.

    Am I still that version of me from 2001? Am I playing photographer while still basically a geek, or am I a photographer with geeky hobbies? I’ve been a photographer longer than a software engineer, and yet the imposter syndrome remains.

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  • Hello world

    I’m blogging again. This post is the first, hopefully, for WeblogPoMo2024. I did a similar thing way back for fun during NaNoWriMo. I quite enjoyed it and figured joining in on this would be good.

    I’ve rebuilt this blog of 24 years into something I’m actually OK with. This is my personal blog for me as a human. I have my work photoblog and also my blog about being a non-binary autistic person with ADHD. This one here is just for fun. It’s my… Little Time Machine. I plan to continue playing and tweaking just like in the early days of blogs because I miss having my own space. Social media is… fine, but when I need to find an old photo or moment, I can’t.

    I’ve made a few main sections to filter content. They are;

    • Journal – for posts like this
    • Photoblog – for galleries or single photo focused work
    • Sketchbook – a place where I can share the attempts at art I’m making
    • Travel – posts from around the world

    There are also the old blog archives lurking inside this site and are fascinating to browse as they document my years of web design and photography. Please do remember, it’s an older version of me not today’s version of me. 

    Now this blog is functionally, what to do with my omg.lol blog and statuslog? Also, how do I stop myself joining micro.blog. I absolutely don’t need it and yet, fun?

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  • April swim

    Managed to wake up at 6 am to go for a swim. I find it hard but when I get out there I love it. Views, swims and community. It’s the best start to a day.


  • Community

    The other day I wrote about how I love to run but I’ve never found it prevented/cured/fixed/handled/soothed my depression. I ran Monday morning and due to an escalating thought in my head I was depressed by the evening. I ran Tuesday morning too. 1c. Windy. Rainy. Just me on the prom. I enjoy being that guy people see and think I must be mad. I’m not. I’m trying to be a better person. But I still wasn’t cured after the run.

    So I asked online. Some people suggested alternate forms of exercise. I already swim and I love to be the guy who after a mile is just warming up. So I do another mile. One day I’ll do a 5km in the pool. One day. But again it doesn’t cure/fix/resolve/sooth/help with my depression. Maybe it does for a bit while I’m doing the workout but that’s not sustainable. I can’t do a workout every few hours. So I don’t think alternate workouts are the key. If I’m already doing activity that elevates my heart rate, gets me outside and allows me to take in a beautiful morning sunrise but doesn’t cure depression then I’m not sure how anything else would.

    Today I joined a running club. They’re callled the “New Brighton Beer Runners”. A small but local group. I went for a run with them and a beer after in my local. How do I feel? I feel fine. Cured? No. Just fine. I did something new so there’s that. I met new people. I talked to new people. I laughed with new people. I saw locals in the bar too. I felt part of not just one thing but many things. A running group. A local bar community. Maybe that’s all it is. I need to be part of a community.

    You’d think that would be easy in this day and age. The internet is everywhere. At one point I could get Slack on my wrist with my Apple Watch. It’s so accessible but I’m finding that trying to be part of a community is harder now. The forums I used to be on aren’t quite the same. People move on. I moved on. Facebook Group’s aren’t a substitute for that. There’s no Twitter groups. Slack and Discord are not accessible in the way that IRC was.

    /connect euroserv.fr.quakenet.org
    /list (to see all the channels)
    /join

    I’m then talking with like minded people about Star Trek and there’s no social issues to get in the way. It used to be so easy. I used to be part of a Quake 3 clan and regularly played CTF and TDM league games. I could do all this from the comfort of my living room. I do miss it. Now days its much harder to be on the global community of social media. My sense of humour doesn’t quite work online. Could I be any more sarcastic? Even that sentence doesn’t have the same impact. I hope you got the Chandler from Friends vibe to it but if not you don’t get the stress on the “be”. You lose a lot with just text. Who I am is lost with just text. At least on social media where its mostly normal people not a small group of Star Trek geeks.

    Maybe what I’m finding now is that the internet is just a service. A tool for Apple news, TV / music streaming and syncing my calendar with my wife. Maybe the connections I want can’t be found online. Maybe what I need is to try and be afk more. That’s Away From Keyboard. Maybe I need to be involved in community groups that are based in the real world around real things. It’s very hard for me but maybe this is what I need because I understand how complex it is to just talk to someone in the real world and the true value of that. I really valued today. The running group. The people in the pub. Is… is this what home is? Finding a place where everybody knows your name? Norm! No, autistic. Waka waka.


  • Autism and loud environments

    This weekend I went out with the same group of friends on both Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was in a quiet bar and Saturday was a Christmas party we’d been invited to. Naturally I spent part of the time analysing the sociology of the nights, as well as drinking good beer and having a laugh with friends.

    Friday was a quiet bar were I talked to people and had a laugh because I could. I could hear people. I could talk to them. That was until it became “loud music o’clock” and the bar staff turned the music up drowning out conversation. Obviously you’re just expected to sit there drinking silently while staring at the person across the table hoping they sense your pain and rise up to take over bar from our oppressive calm space hating overlords. We left at this point and found another bar. It was easier than revolution. By the end of the night I was concious of the fact that I had been chatty. I had remembered to put my phone away and not fall back on it. I had a fun night out.

    Saturday. A November Christmas party. Closer to Halloween than Christmas. Ugh. The corporate world is weird. So at this event there was a DJ for most of the night. “Hello there boys and girls!” He shouts while I imagine I have a cybernetic brain like in Ghost in the Shell and can disconnect from the local environment to sit in a futuristic Slack channel with like minded folk. I think that’s all I could make out from the DJ. The rest was so loud I couldn’t process it. Table conversation was impossible for me. I could barely understand my wife next to me let alone try and enjoy the nueances of small talk.

    I spent a good portion of the night on my phone. Epic fail. Do kids say epic fail anymore? Is that still cool? Anyway, fail. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t communicate with people. I sat there awkwardly hoping no-one would try and engage with me because I’m really sorry but being autistic means I cannot function in that environment. I’m not being shy. I’m disabled and this enviroment is highlighting my disablity. It didn’t help that there was also lots of flashing lights from the DJ booth. It’s like they hired JJ Abrams.

    Lots of people at the party were having fun. What it must be to be normal? To simply rock up and party down. Must be nice. I blamed myself for not being normal and for failing to communicate with people. Yes I’m disabled but its an invisible disablity. What you see is a sad lonely 41 yr old playing with his phone like some kid at a family party. “Oh he’s shy.” bursts into flames You don’t see my inability to cope due to a disablity. You see a socially awkward person seemingly refusing to engage and have fun. So I failed. I felt like I failed.

    It wasn’t until late into the evening that I remembered my Apple Watch has a new app called Noise. It’s a decibel meter and can monitor your surroundings all the time if you like. It will alert you when your environment is bad for your hearing. At this party it registered at 93 decibels and said it could be bad for my hearing. I sat there for 5 hours in this environment. It wasn’t constant. I get an alert if the volume is constantly over 90 decibels but it was loud.

    I had actual data now. I wasn’t feeling down based on my own observations of the night. It was a scientifically proven loud environment. I had a scientifically proven disablity that is affected by this, except its an invisible one which in some ways is the real issue but lets save all that for another day. It was a shame I realised all this about 1 minute before the DJ pulled the plug on his decks and went home. I suddenly came to terms with the night and my issues. I let go of feeling like I was the little shy boy playing on his phone because I had evidence to say this is a harsh environment and I was using my phone as a coping mechanism. I felt less of a failure and left feeling happy because there had been some fun moments during the night.

    Maybe it’s time we start thinking about noise. It’s possible that in a few years every Apple Watch user will have the noise app. People will be alerted to the fact that it’s a loud environment that is bad for your health. They won’t just go to gigs and parties blissfully unware of the issue. Their watch will be looking out for them. This could lead to more conversations about loud music at parties and gigs. Imagine a world where music is still at a level to dance to but also allows you to talk to the person next to you. Would that be so bad?

    It’s a shame that on Friday we were invited to leave a nice bar because they decided they want loud music on and I guess if you’re not talking you’re drinking more which is good for profits. It’s a shame on Saturday the DJ was just too loud and made the environment uncomfortable for me so I felt like a social failure all night. Of course these are just my own personal issues but I just don’t understand the logic of it. Why go out with friends to a place where you can’t engage with your friends? Society is seemingly illogical. But that’s just my view as someone coming to terms with what being autistic means to me.

    On a side note I found this lovely story about how the Noise app on an autistic kids Apple Watch helped him control the volume of his voice.

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  • Midway

    It’s 15th November. There are 30 days in this month so my blogging experiment is at the half way point.

    I’m trying to write more about autism but I’m running into walls. There are too many websites out there discussing autism and it is hard to know which are factually accurate. So I’ve written a few articles and saved for later. Hopefully I’ll get back to them.

    Anyway. Half way through. Here’s hoping it continues into the next month.

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  • I ran today

    The forecast for this morning was wind, rain and a temperature of about 3c. Still I put on my running gear and headed out. Turns out it was only windy and cold. No rain. Phew. Tomorrows forecast looks to be the same but with rain. Darn.

    There’s a ton of articles online about running is good for your mental health. Loads of personal stories. Tweets. Instagrams. Upbeat inspirational posters. Loads. The internet is not short of how running is good for your mental health.

    Yet I’m sat here depressed.

    I’ve never found running to be good for my mental health. I do love a good run. I love to be out in the rain when no-one else is. I love to be the crazy one defying the idea of what I should be doing now. Yet I still can be depressed 12 hours later.

    I don’t know what’s good for my mental health. It’s far too complicated a problem for me to understand. I just have to take it day by day and not give up. I will run and swim and it will make no difference. Maybe I should accept that the two things are completely unrelated. I mean you never see articles saying how eating eggs in the morning stops you getting attacked by chickens at night. Maybe for me running is just running. Something I do and then I’m onto the next thing. There is no massive high that I ride through the day. I like that I’m defying my programming and doing it. But it doesn’t have some magical power to defend me from 12 hours worth of events that can lead to depression.

    I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. Maybe I should go for a run? Shake it off?