Thursday

Very much a did-nothing-day. I was feeling a little under the weather and the prospect of two heavy camera obscura days was looming, so my body kinda forced me to slow down, which was nice of it. I treated the day as a Sunday, mooched around and did very little. And then, once I’d left it until the last possible moment, I started preparing my talk for the next morning.

Wednesday

Fairly productive day. Went into BOM for 12 to cover Leon for a couple of hours. Did some paid work for Karen tweaking the BOM website, basically undoing fripperies that WordPress theme designer thought were a good idea but which look idiotic when you actually put content in. The Custom CSS plugin on that site is full of statements like “none !important”. Still, it’s easier than building something from scratch. I guess.

Cycled in, which I thought would be a nightmare in this heat, but actually wasn’t too bad. My fitness levels continue to improve and I didn’t even sweat too much. Until, of course, I stopped and then the drenching occurred. We joke about how we need a shower at BOM but it would actually be a good idea sometimes. Maybe we could make one using a paddling pool… Hmm…

Jenny came by after work to see what I’d done with the camera obscura this week. She’s tied up with her paying gig so I’ve been taking the strain this month. It’ll be her turn next.

When getting my lunch there was a fire alarm at New St Station so all the workmen had to evacuate and gather on John Bright St. I often see bunches of them outside BOM waiting to march off to work (their offices are above us) but this was ALL of them, all in orange hi-viz. It’s quite the sight. I took a few photos and wasn’t the only one. Really pleased with how this came out.

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Tuesday

The annual heatwave is with us, so things are a bit melty. I decided not to bike into the city centre, where things are maginally hotter, and to instead work in the garden under a shade. It was perfect. There’s a whole thing where people stuck in offices moan about freelancers working in gardens, but fuck that shit. When I worked in a shop I had to be in one place because that’s where the customers and the stock were. Most people in offices don’t actually need to be in that specific location. They could be outside with a laptop but for some reason their employers won’t allow that. Which is fucked. And also not my problem.

I think I actually got more done than usual, being on a beanbag in the garden. Go figure.

Watched a bit of Wimbledon. I do like watching lawn tennis but I could do without the idiot commentators and the idiot spectators, especially the ones who think they’re funny.

Adendum

I forgot to mention we bought the new car today, which is an odd thing to forget. Though to be honest once we bought it (at lunchtime) it just sat outside the house. I didn’t feel the urge to take it for a spin, or explore the controls. There’ll be plenty of time for that and while it’s a good car and we’re very happy with it, it’s still just a car.

Monday

Worked at home, as I tend to do most Mondays. Did a good chunk of work for Fiona on the client’s new site. We hired Seb to build it but there are still some tech niggles that she needs me to work on that don’t require Seb’s much more valuable time.

The other priority was getting the copy for the camera obscura banner completed. It went through the usual editors and was finally ready by the afternoon. I took it over to Gareth to do the layout edits and had two 530mb PDFs on a thumb drive by 8pm.

It looks like this:

Bham Obscura Banner

It’s going to be three metres wide, so the text is actually 1.5cm high and perfectly legible close-up. But from a distance it looks like a shape. Is the idea. We’ll see if it works!

Built a sandpit for the bunnies. They liked dust-bathing in the soil last year but we’ve turfed everything now so hopefully they’ll like this too.

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So far plenty of digging but no evidence of rolling.

Watched Jupiter Ascending. Liked it in the sense that it’s a big movie for teenagers that isn’t idiotic.

Am playing a new phone game for the first time in months, if not a year. I’d gotten utterly disillusioned with the games market but Furdemption £2.25 (or so) little puzzler is lovely. Also, rabbits.

Sunday

The morning was a nice, long, hangover-related lie-in. Mmm.

Fi had some Ukulele business in the afternoon / evening so, knowing I was in danger of just crashing in front of some bad TV, and with Friday’s deadline hovering in front of my worry-cortex, I trundled into BOM to do some work on the camera, specifically finishing the curtain.

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Getting that completed was a good feeling. Just need to polish up the wiring and get the banner made, which Gareth is finishing tonight. Then we’ll be ready for Many & Varied on Friday and CoCoMad on Saturday.

Working in the BOM gallery on a Sunday, with no-one else in the building, was kinda nice. It’s a big space and it was all mine. I imagine this is what having your own studio is like. Loads of space to spread out and no-one to bother you. Not that being bothered by people is a bad thing. Leon came by with a couple of people who’d been DJ/VJing with him last night. Talking to them about the camera, etc was delightful. But so was having “my own” production space.

Home for a late dinner and we watched Whiplash. It’s very good.

Then remembered I needed to write four paragraphs of text for the camera obscura banner, all exactly the same word count. Writing, as you know, comes fairly easy to me, especially about things I know about, but writing to an exacting spec is bloody hard work and one of the reasons I don’t do well at academia. So that took a while.

And then to bed.

Saturday

Drunk-blogging tonight but I’ll keep it short.

Early morning start with a shift at Loaf from 8-10am, something I do occasionally as a return-favour for using the cookery school for Photo School on Sundays. Not too bad but did involve getting up at 7.30, which is a bit of a deal when I tend to get to sleep around 1-2am most nights. Plus that whole waking-up-at-6-for-a-bit thing of late which also happened today, meaning when I got home at 10.30 I was ready to drop and pretty much slept through til 3. Still, a good rest was had.

Spent the afternoon shuffling stuff up from the old ground floor home office to the new upstairs home office. Mostly Fi’s stuff onto the shelves I’ve vacated in the last fortnight to Oxfam.

Then, after some rabbit time, it was off to Jon Bounds‘ 40th birthday do at the Station in Kings Heath. A lovely time spent with mutual friends drinking beer and talking nonsense and, at the end, dancing to the Wonder Stuff like teenagers with dodgy knees. Oh, 1991.

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Friday

Camera Obscura day today, like every Friday. This was our last Friday working together before the grand public launch of the thing next weekend. Made a good stab on the curtain but still a disconcerting amount to be done. Might be some late nights next week. Showed it off to a few people and got consistently good feedback. Feeling confident.

Chloe, the BCU Visual Communications student I was mentoring through her final degree show, and who has now finished her degree, won an award at the end of degree awards shindig which gives her a residency at BOM for, I think, a year. She came in today bubbling with enthusiasm and just wouldn’t stop talking, which given we’re mostly a fairly taciturn bunch at BOM was a little disconcerting at first. But I think it’ll be good for us.

Oh, I see Chloe has put some photos of the installation she did for her degree show on her site! I was dead proud of her for this. Blew us all away.

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Cycled in today. Have been cycling at least twice a week recently usually more, and it’s definitely improving. I don’t need to stop and have a rest and I’m not quite so shattered when I arrive. Sweaty, for sure, but not shattered. It’s working.

Thursday

For some reason I’ve been waking up early, like 6 or 7am. And not in an “oh my bladder is full, I’ll go have a wee and then go back to sleep” kinda way, but actual waking up and lying there being awake. Which, as anyone who knows my sleeping patterns will know, never happens. Eventually I do fall asleep again, after an hour or so, but then when my actual alarm goes off at 10 I’m all groggy and rubbish. Which is not unusual, I’ll admit. But this waking up at 6 or 7 thing is really weird.

Being in your 40s is very much like being a teenager, it seems. Your body starts changing and it’s a bit confusing. (Less mood swings and angst, though, which is nice.)

Went in to BOM intending to do a load of art-related admin, but felt a little swamped by it all and didn’t get much done. I think I’ve had a bit of project-creep and can’t hold it all in my head. Need to break out the whiteboard.

Met Jenny after her work at Custard Factory to jointly feedback on Gareth‘s designs for a camera obscura banner. Went surprisingly smoothly considering I have no idea how to design stuff like this. Resisted the temptation to say “can you make it pop?”

Finally, went to the launch of Stealth, a show of art inspired by and critiquing surveillance culture, curated by my good friend Antonio, his first as Associate Producer at Vivid. It’s a great show, but I would say that because it’s exactly the sort of thing I’d put on if asked to curate something about surveillance culture. I might have chosen different works, but the vibe was spot on. And, of course, there’s a James Bridle Drone Shadow in the car park.

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Stealth is open Thurs to Sat, 12-5pm, til 11th July. Go see it.

Wednesday

Home today, working for Fiona. But also dealing with this possible hayfever onset which I’m now not entirely convinced is hayfever due to digestive issues I won’t go into. Or maybe I’m just run down. I’ve got one of those slightly swollen eyes I get when I’m tired.

Last week some friends announced Alby, their 15 y/o son, was looking for work over the summer so we’re hiring him on Wednesday afternoons for odd jobs. Today he cleaned the bits of the house we never get around to cleaning. Next time he’ll painting the shed. Alby’s available for other work if you need anything done. Good kid, friendly and reliable, can recommend. Let us know.

Popped into Loaf to drop off a gift for Tom to thank him for letting me use his cookery school on Sundays for Photo School for the last 2-3 years. I pay him in favours returned (this Saturday I’m covering an 8-10am shift) but that hardly equals the help he inadvertently gave me in pretty much changing my life. So I got him a thing. I think he liked it.

Speaking of bread, this evening Fi put into practice something she’d been threatening. Knowing I eat frozen pizzas when she’s away and I’m cooking for myself, she found a recipe for pizza dough and tonight we made our own pizzas.

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They were very nice indeed, and we will definitely do this again, but I still think I’ll stick with the frozen version when I’m on my own. Because it’s not about the taste, it’s the fact that they cost 99p, you slam them in the oven they take 12 minutes to cook.

While consuming these delicious pizzas that we made it occurred to me you can apply Flusser’s theories about the system being the real content to eating. We enjoyed the pizzas tonight not just because they tasted nice. We mostly enjoyed them because of the process, the mechanism, that created them. In this case it was DIY but all “eating experiences” tap into this. As Fi said, a sandwich always tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

Or maybe I’m just Getting Flusser obsessed.

Person of Interest – a watching guide

Last week, in this surprisingly engaging article about the decline of the young male American actor, I learned that Amy Acker was starring in one of those American telly programs which, on further investigation, happened to be on Netflix. The article rightly highlights Acker as an actor of some talent and it’s always surprised me she hasn’t had a meatier career. (I confess to being disappointed when I see Amy Adams is in something, not because she’s bad – she also kicks ass talent-wise – but because I’ve misread the surname and thought, finally, Acker was being given something.)

Person of Interest is one of those high-concept procedural shows with an anti-governmental, pro-vigilante subtext from the JJ Abrams staple. There’s this government surveillance computer which is like the worst thing Edward Snowden could dream up and a small group of do-gooders use access to its predictions of violent crime to save people. A classic example of normalising the population to disturbing concepts through fiction (see torture and 24, etc).

But I love this dumb shit, especially with the JJ Abrams mark on them. I stuck with Lost, I devoured Alias, and Fringe was delightful once it stopped trying to be serious. I suspected PoI would be similar to Fringe, so I was prepared to endure some tedium in the first season, but it didn’t get better quickly. So since she was my only reason for watching I skipped ahead to Acker’s debut at the end of season 1. Much better. And then when she stopped guesting it got boring again, which was annoying, so I skipped until she re-appeared, and it got better again. I saw a pattern!

So here’s my Acker-centric guide to Person of Interest.

Season 1

  • Watch the first couple of episodes to get a sense of the premise
  • Skim-read Wikipedia for episodes 3 thru 22.
  • Watch episode 23, the season finale and Amy Acker’s debut.

Season 2

  • Watch the first two episodes, which heavily feature Amy Acker.
  • Skim-read Wikipedia for episodes 3 thru 20.
  • Watch episode 16 if you’re an Acker completist.
  • Watch 21 and 22, the final two episodes of the season.

Season 3 and on

  • Watch all episodes as normal.

You’re welcome.