Posted December 19th, 2014 22:43 by Bob
More therapy via illustration.
Posted December 18th, 2014 23:16 by Bob
It has been a long shitty day after a long shitty week. I am trying to deal with unpleasantness by doing pleasurable things as a response rather than just staring into the void of social media. I drew an owl.
Posted December 9th, 2014 23:59 by Bob
It’s the season of goodwill, kindness and giving. Unless you work in retail or the service industry or happen get in the way in which case fuck you it’s the season of aggressive self-interest.
I worked in retail once, for about three hours, after which I was ‘let go’ and advised that I probably shouldn’t attempt to work in retail again as I didn’t have the requisite social skills. I’m not going to disagree with this advice, my ongoing relationship with not working in retail is working out just fine for both of us. I do however really feel for those who do have the requisite social skills and have to deal with selling things to the great British public over the holiday season. The workload and shitty hours suck but that’s just the stale biscuit base onto which the mouldering cheesecake is built. The closer the Christmas countdown comes to the big day the more some people start to transform into screeching, selfish, entitled pricks with no sense of scale. I’m not sure what the exact date is because my copy of the cunts calendar never turned up, but there’s a date after which it becomes socially acceptable to treat shop staff like the dregs of society you always assumed they were. It’s clearly the assistant’s fault that you didn’t plan your shopping early. It’s also their fault there’s a queue. It’s their fault you have no idea what to buy for your nephew and it’s their fault you are acting like a colossal arse. None of these things could possibly be your fault.
It’s not just shop staff who make your life miserable. Designers and techies try our best to make you cry as well.
It happens every year, yet I always seem to forget about it until the next time round when it leaps out on me like an angry stress weasel robed in the hate-farts of a thousand marketing managers. Everything’s cool. Everything is under control. We’re winding down for Christmas, making plans to see friends and family, then starting as a slow trickle, building up to a flood they attack, the bad-planning zombies. Like an episode of the Walking Dead, but duller and more confusing. They rise up from nowhere, the marketing managers in need of urgent sign-off. They have somehow forgotten that Christmas happens. I accept it’s only recently it’s become a bit of a thing, but they seem aware of Black Friday and I’m sure that only started happening here THIS YEAR. They need to get their campaigns for the new year signed off before they can disappear wherever it is these people disappear off to over Christmas, so a sudden flurry of frantic phone calls and garbled confusing emails expecting quotes and timelines to be delivered RIGHT NOW. No time to get a brief together, no time to discuss exactly what’s required just give them the numbers so they can get the client to scrawl an agreement and they can stagger off to the office Christmas party to inhale free booze and bitch about that time Derek from accounts accidentally flashed his winky at the MD of Seiko.
Fine, whatever here’s some rough numbers, go to your parties, have fun. Eh? No, you can’t agree that as a final cost with your client, you’ve not actually told us what you need because you “don’t have time”. When do you need it? When in January? The first of January? Really? You didn’t think I might like to take some time off over the festive period myself? Oh, veiled threats. That’s nice. What’s that? I’m in tech so probably don’t have friends or family to spend time with anyway? Nice. My time’s not really that important compared to yours? Oh, ok then.
A real life conversation this week. One of many similar. A request for a piece of tech came in during the second week of December, launch date already agreed with the end client – first week of January, cost already agreed with end client – far lower that actual value. Having politely suggested that maybe making these agreements before discussing the feasibility might not have been the most tip-top planning the response was “you’ve got five weeks, surely that’s enough”, further suggestion that we may already have other things to do, and oh, there’s also Christmas which we were planning to take off just sent things down the dark path. Let’s not stray too far down that path, it brings the screaming and the crying and the desire to move into a forest away from technology and anyone who has ever had anything to do with branding.
Here it comes, can you sense it? I can always sense it before it arrives. Best way to deal with it is just relax and accept it’s going to happen. It shouldn’t, but it does. The suggestion, the attempt to shift the burden, the idea that the responsibility should change hands and in turn we should change our plans. Could we not, just you know, work through. Not on Christmas day obviously but the other days we can’t possibly have anything of value to do, because, you know it’s down to us to fix it when someone else screws their planning so badly they would otherwise have to put their hand up and take some responsibility. Dear Sirs, I appear to have ceased to give any flavour of fuck about this opportunity. I am off to find someone with a sense of empathy to talk to.
I sympathise, I really do. I’ve been there, a pushy client wants a thing, you don’t really understand what the thing is and the best way to get a thing is to point at the nearest person and make it their problem now. But then I stopped being 12. I have a four year old son, all he wants for Christmas (aside from a massive pile of toys) is for me to take some time off to spend with him and his mum, if you seriously think your campaign is going to prevent that you should take a good long stare at your empty soul.
I know. I know. I really know this is getting out of hand. I know the obsession with manners and treating people acceptably is going to get me into trouble. I also know I’ve pissed off clients, some to the extent they are no longer clients. I care because I don’t want my family to have to live in a skip on the A4 and I’m slowly dragging us there, but you, YOU can help stop this and I really want you to, I don’t want my child growing up in a skip with rats for friends (no offence to rats or people who live in skips). Help me with my Christmas wish.
Please don’t take offence, but for Christmas what I’d really like is for people to stop being selfish, finger pointing entitled pricks. It takes a bit of practice but we can all get there, here’s some handy tips.
1. Look up ‘empathy’ and understand it. Here you go, I looked it up for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy you’ll need to do the understanding yourself. In short, remember that other people are actually people, real actual humans with real feelings and everything.
2. Find yourself berating a shop assistant, designer, developer, postal worker, or ANYONE ELSE over a situation caused by your own bad planning? Stop! See point 1.
3. Find yourself berating a clerical worker, hairstylist, fishmonger, or ANYONE ELSE over a situation that was out of both of your control? Stop! See point 1.
4. Trying to shift the blame onto someone else for a situation you caused? Stop! Take some damn responsibility, also, see point 1.
5. Attempting to co-erce a builder, web-designer, piano tutor, or ANYONE ELSE into giving up on their time to fix problems you have caused? Stop! See point 1.
In general try to obey the tenets of Wheaton’s Law. It’s best all round.
Think you may have been a bit of a dick to someone lately? Why not try and balance that out a bit, do something positive:
Be excellent to each other!
Posted September 1st, 2014 20:30 by Bob
Inspired by blackberry picking with the family.
Posted July 4th, 2014 21:51 by Bob
Before I was diagnosed diabetic I enjoyed cooking, I wasn’t brilliant but had fun and was willing to experiment with my own recipes and new ingredients. I specially enjoyed baking and on rainy sundays would often spend the whole day making assorted breads and muffins for the family, I was also very fond of making cheesecakes.
The diagnosis hit us like a particularly annoying bus, crushing the hunger for cookery under the tedious tyres of necessary change. It’s taken a while to extricate myself from the cobbles and start again, bakery is pretty much defenestrated, yes there are ways round it but they are generally pretty heavy, lacklustre and frankly not much fun. Desserts are not actually too bad on condition you extend your definition of what a dessert is. I’ve learned to do a lot of things with lentils. So that’s nice.
We’ve already had a brilliant crop of both loganberries and raspberries in the garden this year and I wanted to do something nice with them other than just stuff them into my face so I looked at making cheesecake. I’ve actually made a couple of cheesecakes since diagnosis but was never quite happy with the results. The cheese bit is fine, just don’t add sugar, cheesecake does not need sugar it should be light and fruity, not akin having Bertie Basset sit on your face. I’m consistently annoyed (moreso now) by the massive amount of unnecessary sugar in shop-bought cheesecake, and restaurants should just know better. The base is always the challenge, I used to make this from crushed digestive biscuits as many recipes will recommend but digestives are full of sugar and even without the sugar are pretty high carb. You can get sugar free digestives but they are hard to find and (in my experience) not very nice. The main issue for me is to be able to put a simple dessert together without having to ship specialty ingredients in.
Anyway, entirely by accident I’ve worked out how to make a relatively diabetic friendly cheesecake with cheap, easy to access ingredients – OATCAKES. I had originally decided to just use normal digestives with some added oats for fibre and just avoid the base myself (it’s fine for Karen), but when mixing stuff in the kitchen I noticed a box of Alexander’s oatcakes, I crushed a handful up with just a couple of the digestives and some other ingredients and they made a really nice, crispy base. It was not as crumbly as a traditional cheesecake base but it tasted great and was far healthier. I’m going to try again this weekend dropping the digestives entirely.
So here’s a very rough recipe. This is not exact, you’ll have to experiment and work out the measurements as to your personal preference.
Crush up the oatcakes (a rolling pin and a freezer bag makes this less messy but less entertaining). Mix in a couple of generous spoonfuls of the ground flax seed, some ground cinnamon to taste and a sensible amount of oats.
Melt the butter. Mix it in with the oatcake mixture until it’s nice and clumpy. Press the resulting mixture into the bottom of a 8″ spring form baking tin. Use the back of a spoon to flatten it out as best you can. Stick this in the fridge.
Pour the cheese, lemon juice and fruit into a bowl. Mix it. Put it in the fridge.
NOTE. If you really feel so inclined you can add sweetener to the base, the cheese mix or both. I don’t and it’s lovely. If you really need to add sweetener to something made of cheese and fruit you should probably take a good long look at yourself (or just use less lemon juice).
Give it an hour or so. Spoon the cheese mixture into the baking tin on top of the base. Put it back in the fridge. Leave it for as long as you can face (good couple of hours minimum).
Eat it. Not all at once.
This is suitable for me, you are not me. If you are actually diabetic rather than just seeking a more healthy cheesecake recipe do check your blood sugar and don’t assume you can just inhale this. It still contains carbs in the base and depending on the amount of fruit you add possibly a large dose of fructose. It does also include a bucketload of fat in the cheese. I am neither a doctor nor a nutritionist.
Posted May 19th, 2014 21:16 by Bob
I built a barn. Not a real one you understand, that would be insane, I don’t even own any livestock (or land on which to place it). I made a tiny barn out of card and glue and balsa wood then painted it.
I’ve had an ongoing mission over the last couple of years to learn to do things with my hands. So much of my creative output has been purely digital I feel like my making stuff skills are slowly withering away (they were not well developed to begin with). A few of these projects died before they had a chance to get off the ground, mostly down to my failure to identify what resources were needed to achieve them (mostly in terms of space and spare time).
The barn came about through an unexpected turn of nostalgia. My mum finally got sick of her attic containing large chunks of my childhood and not-so-childhood and asked me to sort through it in order to re-locate the contents either to our attic or to a better cause (the closest recycling plant). Amongst the juvenile ephemera I re-discovered severel boxes of old copies of the Games Workshop publication White Dwarf, home to all things role-play and fantasy battle. The initial reaction was to either wang them directly to the recycling pile or see if anyone on eBay would be interested in 100-ish slightly tatty copies of a magazine stuffed full of goblins and space marines. I foolishly decide to have a leaf through a couple of copies and discovered memories of hours spent hunched over a desk applying acrylic paint to tiny orcs, manticores, Eldar and space marines. I’d somehow forgotten or possibly blocked out quite how meaningful this had meant to me at a significant time of life.
I remember clearly how much pleasure I had got out of building the scenery and terrain for wargames, spending far more time on creating little abandoned buildings and ruined temples than on the miniatures themselves. After a bit of attic exploration it turns out that somewhere between house-moves the box that had contained all my hand crafted landscape oddments had not made it through. Saddened by this as I had genuinely spent a lot of time, energy and love on these things as a child I considered binning the magazines and everything else. Karen convinced me this was bad idea which I would regret (I would) and I should just have a crack at making some more. The loss is probably no bad thing, my memories of perfectly rendered walls and forests are probably very inaccurate and the reality would likely not be quite as exciting.
After a couple of false starts I found some good general scenery building guides in some of the old magazines and started on the barn.
It took about two and a half months in all. It didn’t actually take very long in terms of doing stuff but finding time between work, childcare and other grown-up responsibilities stretched the process somewhat. This worked in my favour as it meant I actually gave each stage time to dry and settle before rushing onto the next part.
I’m pretty happy with the outcome, for a first go in nearly 20 years it’s turned out well. I really should have paid attention to the repeated advice from ALL the articles I read which stated “don’t use cardboard for the base, it will warp” I can confirm, if you use cardboard for the base, it will warp. I even tried glueing two sheets of stiff good quality card together, it still warped. Don’t use cardboard for the base. It will warp. Next time I’m going to grow up, get over my fear of DIY stores and buy some MDF.
It’s a little on the dark side, I painted the wood with a wash of black then gave it several layers of progressively lighter browns and greys. It looks great in sunlight but too dark otherwise, a deep brown base would be better.
Polyfilla is the king of craft materials. Really, it’s cheap and brilliant. I used it to make the base for the grass and to embed the rocks in. It’s also lovely to water down and paint on for a rough plaster/stone effect on walls (which I’ve since used elsewhere).
Speaking of rocks. I bought a big sack of slate chunks from a garden centre for about a fiver, washed and dried them. I saw a very small jar of the same thing available in a craft shop. Shop around for you materials!
I struggled with the flock material (the grass). I don’t remember having used it before and couldn’t find a decent guide on using it that didn’t involve buying a bunch of speciality glues and materials. In the end the best result seems to have been to plaster down a decently thick later of PVA/White Glue, throw on far more flock than you need, press down on it VERY lightly then leave it as long as possible before tipping off the loose bits. A couple of people had recommended sealing it with hairspray, although this seems to work ok it also makes everything very shiny, a better suggestion which I’ve since used elsewhere is to get a small spray bottle with a mix of PVA and water and cover with that.
Drybrushing rocks to make them look like rocks is a weird concept but it’s all about the scale. I quite like the effect.
The planking looks odd if you look at it, the first wall is incredibly straight and even, but I realised this was supposed to be a knackered old barn built in the middle ages so it get’s increasingly rugged on each wall.
A good collection of different grades of sand and gravel is very handy (again DIY/Pet stores far cheaper than craft stores). Depending on amount used and paint choices it can double as pathways, moss, mould & ivy.
Overall I’ve really enjoyed the process and have already started working on some of the more challenging projects from some of the old copies of White Dwarf, it was pretty easy but also a really relaxing process and a surprisingly cheap way to spend your time. Now I just need to convince Karen we should take up Warhammer 40K.
Here are some pictures I took in a box, with a torch!
Posted April 24th, 2014 19:52 by Bob
Here is a gif of me smacking myself in the head with a hammer while wearing a metal helmet that my good friend Phil made…
Posted February 23rd, 2014 21:51 by Bob
Posted February 17th, 2014 00:52 by Bob
I cannot sleep because I need a coat stand. Indirectly.
I can not find a coat stand I like and can afford. A normal person would just buy a fucking coat stand and not think about it.
So I spent an hour looking for a coat stand, rather than just purchasing the first one I found for a tenner on ebay.
I found nothing to make me happy. So I designed one. In my head.
Then I spent an hour working out where I could source the materials from.
Then I had a bit of a think about the fact I’m not very good with my hands.
Then finally I thought about how little spare time I have in which to build a fucking coat stand. This was upsetting because the one in my head is really nice and it would be a shame for it to not exist, and frankly I really want to build something. But by taking time out to learn how to and then build a coat stand I will be letting people down.
I should probably just buy a coat stand on ebay for a tenner.
The source of my insomnia is a coat stand. I am not normal.
Posted February 12th, 2014 22:50 by Bob
Rocket & Shooting Star Pattern