Spark Posted

One thing that I’ve found myself doing a lot since I downloaded Adobe Spark Post, is using it to put down my thoughts. Whenever I’ve felt stressed, or a random idea has come into my head, I’ve tapped it in the app, playing with all the various fonts and backgrounds until I’ve found one that suits the text.

Following the news regarding my home town of Manchester this week (as well as the government voting to not extend free school meals over school holidays), I made this. A simple graphic, with a message that is short and to the point.

You know he is. He really is.

Juvenile? Yes, but it felt so good to get it out of my head.

(If anyone in Greater Manchester or beyond wants to use the above graphic by the way, feel free to screenshot or save the image however you want)

A quick question

Does anyone still blog as a hobby anymore? Or is it more for business reasons?

I ask as it seems like the blogosphere has changed a lot since I first dipped my toes into its waters. When I began in the mid 00s, first on Blogger and then later on WordPress, with a bit of MySpace in between, many of us were using it as an online diary, as a place to talk about their interests, to have a rant or share stuff they created. Now whenever I see stuff about starting blogs, it’s about how to make it a career, how to make money from it and all the new blogs I see pop up reflect that.

I don’t see anything wrong with it. I have tried to see if I can make a bit of money out of this before myself, while still mainly doing it as a hobby. You can probably tell this from my “publishing schedule” (I’m working on it, honest). I just wonder if there are still people out there who are 100 percent doing it for the love of sharing whatever’s in their heads or what they enjoy. They’re on a free plan, they don’t see themselves as influencers, they don’t have brand deals or affiliate links on their blog. They don’t plan what they’re going to post ahead of time, they just go for it when they want to.

Brain dump

A.K.A all the things I was thinking about posting this week, plus anything else that comes into my head.

If there haven’t been enough reasons for me to feel old at the moment, it’s been twenty years since Chicken Run was released. Aardman announced a sequel this week, which they’ve partnered with Netflix for, which will likely premiere on Netflix. Maybe it’s a sign of my age, or maybe I’m being a bit of a snob, but I tend to view a film that goes on Netflix first as like the modern equivalent of a film going straight to video. Let’s be honest, while there’s a lot of good stuff on there, there is also a hell of a lot of crap. I am however sure that the film itself will be very good because Aardman never make a bad film (yes I do include Flushed Away in this)

I’m wondering whether a smart notebook would be a worthy investment. Sure I can see them as a good idea from an environmental point of view (reusable pages + ability to scan and upload notes = less paper needed), but they are pretty expensive. Then again, the price of one of the cheapest smart notebooks is probably the equivalent of at least 5 A5 standard ones and will probably last the lifetime of 50. I’ll think about it more.

I’m going to try and go a whole day without checking social media. I’ll let you know that goes one way or another.

Lockdown update part 4

Lockdown measures are easing a bit and many of the shops are opening again. While going for a wander around Primark or going to Greggs for my first cheese and onion bake in months is tempting, I think it might still be a while before I have the energy for a full on shopping trip. I don’t fear setting foot in a shopping centre, I’ve just become a whole lot lazier these last few weeks. I’ve also focussed more on getting the stuff I need rather than the stuff I want. Amazon, surprisingly has become a lifesaver for me the last couple of months, as I’ve found that things I would normally have got online from other suppliers have been much easier and quicker to get from them. I never knew that they sold certain toiletries until a near three week wait for a delivery from a well known health and beauty retailer at the height of the lockdown period forced me to source some of the more urgent items sooner.

I’ve been spending more time sorting stuff at the house, ahead of the final stages (hopefully) of the renovation. It seems like I find more magazines from years ago the more often I go. I mean, I did read a LOT of comics as a kid as well as anything that I could get my hands on bar the more grown up stuff. I’m just shocked we still had so many of them when I’m sure we were regularly recycling a lot of them up until a few years ago.

I found a sketchbook at the house from when I was about 13. Was reminded I did have a bit of drawing ability back then, even if it was mostly drawing cartoon and video game characters. My drawing skills are practically non-existent now (my sister was the real artist in the family), but I was always more into writing.

I’ve added more to my Spotify playlist because I was bored.

I’m looking forward to being able to go away again. Some might moan about “staycations”, but I love going on holidays in the UK. I admit I currently have limited options, what with having not renewed my passport yet. But even if I did have a valid one I’d still choose holidaying on home turf. It’s just how I am.

I miss my friends more than ever, but I’m feeling more hopeful that I’ll get to see them before the end of September at least.

I learned that another term for smartphone addiction is nomophobia. I’m not one to self-diagnose based on what I find on the internet, but…

My Life Story were a hugely underrated band. “If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” should have been massive, as should “12 Reasons Why I Love Her” but I think we already knew that.

And that is about it for now. Hope everything is well with you.

Lockdown update part 3

Since the last time I posted:

I have been going out for walks nearly every day. Just getting outside for even a ten minute walk around the block has helped me a lot, mentally and physically.

I’m having to get used to blogging on a smartphone since I’m unable to get my laptop back from storage at the moment (long story). I still find it a bit weird, but it’ll do for now.

I’m thinking about doing a course on using Adobe Spark. I know the basics, but I’d like to know how to master it so that everything I create on it (like the image above) doesn’t scream “graphic design is my passion”. Thank God it doesn’t have comic sans, not that I would use it.

I said to my best mate that I hope I get to see her before Christmas. She answered “what year?”. Well, exactly.

Same friend also asked me if I was doing anything for my 40th next year. Mate, I don’t even feel 39 yet and it was my birthday in February.

I was nominated to do a Facebook challenge and I did it, Wouldn’t normally engage in any of those kind of challenges but it was about books so I gave it a go.

Expanded my list of people who can do one. The latest addition is people who post photos of beaches on social media to complain about people on the beach. It’s got to the point where I don’t know, or care if the photo was taken today or is a photo from years ago that’s being passed off as today. It’s ultimately about getting people outraged for likes and RTs. Bit sad really when you think about it.

I made another Spotify playlist because I was bored. I keep adding stuff to it when I’m bored, which is still quite often at the moment, as you might expect:

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/53c5uIE1GFLA4zMojy9Qpp?si=u9IL3HhiSeym_6WQqc9VCQ

Have come to the conclusion that TikTok is just an app for videos of people doing the same dance routines to Blinding Lights and some Dutch song about MDMA and having sex with your dad (????)

Anyway, I hope that you are all keeping well during this time. How has your lockdown experience been?

Lockdown update

As of the 29th April, I’ve taken to writing a post by hand and posting a photo of it rather than typing it all out. Mainly out of pure laziness, but also because I don’t have my laptop at the moment. Here’s what I wrote:

In addition to the above:

I’ve started to crave Maltesers, Salt and Vinegar Square crisps, Haribo Starmix and Strawberry Hubba Bubba. Not together, obviously. Yes, I know I could go out and get them but I’m reserving my time out of the house for actual essentials.

I listened to the radio show of The Mighty Boosh on BBC Sounds. Now I’m wanting to watch the TV series again. Remind myself of the nights when BBC Three was actually on TV and I’d stay up to watch and admire this work of crazy genius (and, ahem, Noel Fielding. Well he was weirdly attractive).

I rate my mood out of five on most days as a two. Moving to a 3.5 later on in the day.

I need to get off twitter completely for a bit. Even reducing my amount of time checking it isn’t doing me much good.

Here ends the update. Hope you’re doing good.

Lockdown report

Aggretsuko. The cutest death metal head.

As of 21st April 2020:

I have only gone out of the house five times (excluding the times I’ve been in the garden) since lockdown began.

I have watched far too much Homes Under The Hammer.

I realised Aggretsuko is my spirit animal minus the singing of death metal at karaoke. I don’t do karaoke, but I have fantasised about screaming “YOU’RE A SHITTY BOSS!!!!!! I HATE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!” at former horrible managers.

I have taken part in a 30 day song challenge on Instagram. Normally I find these kind of challenges on any social media platform incredibly annoying but it is something to relieve the boredom. And it is interesting to find out what others I follow who are doing it post.

I got three letters from the hospital on the same day (two of them being the same letter). One was the dreaded letter telling me I was in the “at risk” group with me having a long term health condition and saying I should shield for 12 weeks. The other letter(s) were from my consultant which included a form to self assess my level of risk. The higher the score, the higher the risk. My score? 0. Therefore I don’t have to fully shield and can follow the social distancing protocols. Yes I’m confused, but thinking about it I’d rather have got the letters than not. It shows they’re looking out for us.

My anxiety has been through the roof.

I am grateful to live in the time of video calls and messaging apps.

I’ve reduced my twitter consumption if only to stop myself from getting upset and angry at 5G truthers and all other assorted idiots that are in overdrive during this time.

I’ve also reduced my Facebook time for the same reason. Thankfully, I don’t have many friends on there and the majority of them don’t engage with that kind of nonsense.

I believe Disney + came along at just the right time. And yes, The Mandalorian is magnificent.

I’m still meh about Killing Eve.

I downloaded Disney Sorcerer’s Arena on my phone. I deleted it after two days as it drained my phone battery faster than Fallout Shelter did a few years back. Good game though. That reminds me, I need to get a new phone when this is all over.

I also downloaded Incredibox. You have to pay for it, but it is a fun little app.

Been using Noted to empty my head of thoughts. Some potential blog material which I might share, then again might not.

I wrote about lockdown and ended up turning it into some weird poem that I’m kind of equal parts proud and embarrassed about.

My skin has gone bad.

I’m more tired than I’ve been for a while.

I’m doing my best to hold it together.

I hope you’re coping well.

A letter for whoever needs this right now.

Hi,

I hope this finds you well.

I know that right now things seem more than a bit weird. You might also be finding it a tad overwhelming at the moment, what with the near constant stream of information (and misinformation) that is coming through every day from media outlets. It’s natural that you will be worried about your friends and your family, especially all those who are at high risk. I know right now my own priority is ensuring that myself and my own family are safe and healthy.

If there is one piece of advice I can give to you in a situation like this is, don’t stress yourself out. Stress doesn’t just affect your mental health, it puts a strain on your physical health too. It can impact on your immune system, making you more susceptible to colds and other illnesses. So even if you don’t pick up coronavirus, you could still pick up something else. Be aware of what’s going on, keep yourself informed, keep washing your hands (it’s very important), but please don’t let your attempts at protecting yourself from this virus mess up your health in other ways. It really isn’t worth it.

In the meantime, if you’re feeling a little more anxious than usual at the moment, take time for yourself as much as possible. Also:

Mute anything or anyone on social media that is posting negativity. Better still, take a break from social media altogether, it works wonders.

Restrict your news consumption. Having BBC News 24 on all day when you’re already feeling down will just make you feel worse, as will following news sites on twitter all day. Check the news once a day, any time apart when you wake up or before you go to bed. Maybe even get a newspaper (yes they still exist) just avoid the S*n or Daily Fail.

Try a mindfulness app. I’ve found that using Headspace has helped me a lot when I have had bouts of stress and anxiety. I particularly recommend their sleepcasts if you’re having difficulty sleeping.

Sleep well. Eat healthily. Exercise. Read. Listen to music and podcasts you love, or discover new ones to enjoy. Watch your favourite films and TV. Play games. Have a go making that thing you’ve said you wanted to make but have never had the time to. If you are having to self- isolate at this time, now you’ve a chance to do it.

Be kind to your body and mind. Remember life still goes on, just in a different way from what you’re used to.

Take care.

A few words on The Masked Singer

The Monster, one of the stars of the Masked Singer. But who are they?

***WARNING!!*** This post is about a show that is on primetime British television. As it is a post about a television show there is the possibility that it may contain content some may consider to be spoilers, although you’ve probably found out before you read this anyway. Still, it’s only fair that I warn you before you continue reading in case you haven’t because I don’t want to be THAT person. You know who I mean.

Thank you for reading. And now, here’s the post.

The Masked Singer is crazy.

Bats**t crazy.

Quite possibly the most bats**t crazy thing I have ever seen on TV.

But I’m kind of into it. Sure it isn’t high art, but TV designed for Saturday Prime time TV isn’t supposed to be. Yes it’s another show featuring people singing, but it’s ultimately a guessing game. I admit it is fun trying to work out who they are. My mum ended up making a list of all the people she thought was performing in disguise on the show (she’s about 95 percent certain that the Hedgehog is Alfie Boe, but who knows?). And the costumes the disguised celebrities wear are pretty impressive, however I imagine that at least one of the contestants are baking hot and/or struggle to go to the toilet in them.

If there’s any real criticism, it’s probably that it’s a bit too long at 90 minutes, a length no doubt made so by ITV’s penchant for putting an ad break after every performance and prior to announcing who has won the vote to the next show. There is also the chance that Mr Chow from the Hangover (who happens to be on the panel of the American version as well), could end up becoming very annoying as the series rolls on. But in all, it’s a harmless bit of cheesy fun and we all need something like that now and again.

One last thing, I’m pretty sure John Barrowman is not the unicorn. For one, it would be pretty obvious from the get go that it was him. Plus if it was him do you really think Schofield and Willoughby would have asked him if he was during the first episode of Dancing on Ice, on which he is the newest judge? They’d be stupid to try and give it away and thus ruin the outcome of another TV show, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

You decide:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVIeNMNJiIg

Na…No.

I am reminded that it’s coming up to NaNoWriMo time again. I still get the emails about it a few years on from my first (and only) attempt at it. I’ve thought about trying again some time, but as each year passes I just feel more and more like I don’t have the energy or time to really make a go of it.

That doesn’t mean that I am totally against the idea of month long writing challenges. Indeed, I’ve taken on my own alternative in the past. November has seen me post a blog every day instead. Doing that every day felt a lot easier to me than writing novel chapters, even if I did run out of things to blog about near the end of the month. I didn’t do it last year and I am unsure as to whether I’ll do it this year, unless I can guarantee that at least 60 percent of them are not going to made up of me moaning that I have nothing to write about.