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Budget blogging, maxed out media and the Next Big Step…

I would have liked to begin this post with a nice, eye-catching photo, but I can’t, because, as of yesterday, Diary of an Internet Nobody is full.

I suppose I realised, in a tangential, vague sort of way, that there was a limit to the number of media files I could upload on my free WordPress plan, but I hadn’t actually considered what reaching that limit would result in.

Now I know.

No. More. Pictures.

I really don’t like the sound of that, not at all.

When I first started blogging, five years ago, I had no idea what I would do with my own little corner of the internet; it was just another experiment in what could be achieved with my trusty phone, a void to shout nonsense into, in the hope someone would listen.

But it evolved, it grew extra parts, it multiplied, it spawned siblings and bred with other blogs to produce interesting hybrids, it settled into its own comfortable space in the blogosphere and started to enjoy itself. It discovered there was more to being a blog than just words.

The most enjoyable extraliterary elements, for me anyway, are the photography/video/animation projects, which have continued to evolve as smartphone technology rapidly develops more complex apps and software, enabling me to dabble in almost any medium I fancy, for just a few quid or, more often than not, for free.

I have always loved taking pictures, ever since I was a kid, (although I’ve never owned anything more complicated than a 35mm point and shoot “instamatic” camera) so finding a phone which could produce high resolution photos and video was a big step in upping my game. And because the smartphone became my weapon of choice for blogging, it seemed only natural that I should employ it in the photographic phase of my own personal creative renaissance, too.

Meaning that, the more I got into blogging, the more photography I did.

And the more photography I did, the more I wanted to show off my newly-found skills and improvised audio visual experiments, to the point that I began a whole new blog to showcase my creative efforts.

However, Diary of an Internet Nobody was my first and proudest blogging achievement and I ended up wanting to post everything on here, for all you lovely people to admire and/or recoil from, depending on the vicissitudes of my oeuvre.

All of which creative outpourings have led to my current situation, a blog with no space left for further photographic adventures.

Which, as I see it, leaves me with four main options:

1 – Continue the blog, but with no pictures (not an option I’m willing to contemplate).

2 – Move to a paid WordPress plan, doubling my storage space in one go and gaining still more space by “optimising” media file sizes for future uploads (something to consider, although it means a double compromise; I have always promised myself that blogging would remain as cost-free as possible, as I cannot justify spending much-needed funds on what is, when all is said and done, a hobby. Plus, I don’t like the idea of lowering the resolution or quality of images I use on the blog, simply so I can add more of them) And what happens if I suddenly can’t afford to pay for it in a few years, will my lovingly crafted, lavishly illustrated journal of gibberish just cease to be?

3 – Delete old posts with photos in and/or link to copies of those posts on Photo Sans Frontiers, or possibly even use a completely new blog to archive photo posts in their entirety.

4 – Draw a line under this blog completely and leave it for anyone who wants to nose around it as it floats, adrift and rudderless in cyberspace.
Then I’d start a whole new free blog, carry on where I left off, possibly transferring my custom domain name to the new site (not that I’m even sure this is possible, so if anyone has any experience in such matters…?) and hope that I can persuade my loyal followers to…well, follow me, to pastures new.

Any thoughts?

I’ll have to make the decision soon, because I have a Cosmic Photo prompt to set on Friday and I’d like to be able to take part in my own feature, so if you would like to wade in with any advice, now’s your chance to help decide the fate of the blog you’ve gone to all this trouble to read.

 
 

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The Woolhouse opens to the public…

You will have read a lot of stuff on here over the last few weeks, about my long obsession with David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and my more recent involvement with the happy, friendly and hilariously bonkers group, The Woolhouse Boys on Facebook.

Well it’s finally time for us to come out of the warm, woolly shadows and step, blinking, into the light of day, because The Woolhouse is now officially open to all. Well, all of you who already inhabit the world of Facebook, anyway.

That’s right, you can now join the formerly exclusive club of John Justice Wheeler knitwear enthusiasts and merry woolen pranksters, allowing you access to the entire woolly wonderland. 

Not only can you enter the main Woolhouse Boys group, but you can also take advantage of the Woolhouse Boys Secrets page, where you will find inside information on the show itself, educated theorizing on plot and character development and all manner of unseen and behind the scenes gems, gathered by our well-connected founding members, not to mention a lot of good company and an eclectic selection of amazing artistic talent.

But it doesn’t end there, because there is now a new addition to our fast-expanding corner of the wooled wide web, the Woolhouse Boys Contests page, where you will be able to take part in fun competitions, with a chance to win Twin Peaks related prizes and Woolhouse Boys goodies.

So come and join in the fun and see what you’ve been missing, use the links below to enter our world, there will be a warm and woolly welcome waiting for you and many yarns to be spun.

***THE WOOLHOUSE BOYS***

***WOOLHOUSE BOYS SECRETS***

***WOOLHOUSE BOYS CONTESTS***

I’ll see you in the trees.

 

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March of the Internet Nobody, day twenty four: Friday doodle gif…

Just making it in under the wire, for today’s gif post to still be relevant, so I’ll keep it short and say; here’s a doodle gif for Friday.


Have a good weekend, see you tomorrow.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in aardvark, Animation, Blogging

 

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March of the Internet Nobody, day twenty two: A gif at the end of the tunnel (flashing images)…

Today I am more encouraged, as I have had not one, but two tentative requests for gifs from readers who missed my original post, which I shall get around to in due course.

I already had an idea which I was playing around with for Todd and Dustin so I’m posting that today, but I shall start work on the requests tomorrow.

I apologise if the rather abrasive nature of this one isn’t for you, I quite understand; I was attempting to emulate, however amateurishly, David Lynch’s trademark strobe motif, which he uses to such powerful effect in many of his works.

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in aardvark, Animation

 

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March of the Internet Nobody, day twenty: The gif that keeps on giving…

After my latest burst of animated creativity last week, making the gif for Todd and Dustin that I posted yesterday, I had an idea for this week’s theme; a personalised custom gif giveaway, a gifaway if you will.

Yes I’m offering a lovingly crafted, unique, exclusive and free animated gif, for one person each day this week.

So, whether you’d like me to make something for you to display on your blog, or you just fancy a weird screensaver for your phone, the first person to make a request in the comments of this post will receive a mystery gif to do with as they please.
You may specify the photo to be used, or I can do something strange with your blog avatar, or you can have a lucky dip and just see what I come up with for you, it’s entirely up to you.

But what I do with the source material will be up to me, ok?

In fact, I will take the first two requests today, to give me a chance to get started on the week’s task, then the first request from each day after that until Friday.

I have already had a quick muck about and made one for myself, using an old dalecooper57 graphic from the early days of Diary of an Internet Nobody as an example of the type of thing that can be done with a single image, see what you think.

 
 

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March of the Internet Nobody, day nineteen: Giffing woolly with it…

For this, the nineteenth installment of my daily blogging binge, I’m previewing another unhinged animated gif, inspired by the first guests in my week of reblogs.

You’ve met Todd and Dustin, the pair of writers who I featured in Monday’s post

This is them.

Well Dustin was admiring the work of The Woolhouse Boys on Friday, so I did him and Todd the honour of sweaterising them, like this…

…but that didn’t seem quite enough, somehow, so I decided to go one step further.

The beauty of all this mucking about with animation apps and editing tools is that I learn new skills every time. For instance, I realised that if you’re going to cut someone’s head off and leave a big hole in the picture, you need to reconstruct what would be in the background, if the head wasn’t in the way to start with.

All this fiddly photographic manipulation resulted in a rather warped and surreal reimagining of the beautiful garden in which our heroes were seated when the original photo was taken, but I hope that’s upstaged by the Gilliam-esque animation in the foreground.

See what you think.

I’ve yet to decide what, if any, the theme will be for my final full week of March’s marathon, but one thing’s for sure, it’s K’lee and Dale’s Cosmic Photo Challenge tomorrow, so I’ll see you back here for that.

 
 

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Random photo mashup…

Did you hear the bizarre story this week, about Sky TV’s (unsurprisingly cancelled) drama about Michael Jackson, starring Joseph Fiennes?

Well I was chatting to a friend about that doomed project on Facebook today, which led to a discussion about which inappropriate actors could be cast as recently departed musical icons.

While she suggested that Samuel L Jackson and Denzel Washington should star in Wham: The Final Stand, I quite fancied the idea of David Bowie: Heroes to Ashes starring Ray Winstone and Lemmy: Last Wild Man of Rock with Peewee Herman in the lead role.

But my friend wasn’t convinced:

“Both good choices.  Though I fear they are a little too Caucasian to portray these roles effectively”

She was right, of course, so I reevaluated my decision to have everyone’s favourite short, stocky, East End hard man play the Thin White Duke and instead went for everyone’s favourite smoldering, six-packed, tortured hard man, Idris Elba.

This met with a great deal more enthusiasm, (to be honest, I think she’s got a bit of a weakness for him) so I thought I’d provide her with a visual interpretation of my casting idea and I was so pleased with the result that I’m sharing it with you, too.

You’re welcome.

{You’ll have to imagine Peewee as Lemmy, it was too disturbing to post} 

 

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Reblog: George Michael was killed in US airstrike claims Russia Today

Some satire, to lighten the sad news of another talented performer’s passing. Goodbye, George, we’ll miss your honesty and integrity…

SOZ SATIRE

George Michael Last Christmas? Yep, pretty much, and it’s all thanks to the Yanks says Russia Today

Following the death of pop superstar, George Michael last night, Russian media outlet, Russia Today, have sensationally claimed that Michael was killed by a guided missile fired from an American F16 fighter jet whose pilot was under direct orders from President Barack Obama to neutralise the Last Christmas star.

In a bulletin hours after the star’s death had been announced by his publicist, a Russia Today newsreader made the astonishing claim: “George Michael was targeted by the United States Airforce, no question. He was killed by a heat-seeking missile, specially programmed to target his oven when he opened the door to get the turkey out.

“Our heroic President, Vladimir Putin, tried to intervene when he learned of the plan, but Obama wouldn’t listen, just as he won’t listen when Mr Putin begs him to stop…

View original post 174 more words

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in aardvark, Blogging, Humour, Music

 

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So I married a superhero…

By now most of you know that my wife, Rhonda, is American, but what you may not know is that she’s also a superhero.

She is Spoon Woman.

When I got to know Rhonda, over five years ago now, she was just another American I could playfully wind up on Facebook. She was introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance and we soon became good friends, finding common ground in politics, music and literature, amongst other things. 
Even more amazingly, she shared my sense of humour and found my first forays into the writing entertaining, saying nice things about blog posts I sent her and generally coming across as one of the more sane and well-balanced Americans that I’d met, during my initial exploration of the internet in general and Facebook in particular.

She also told me she had fibromyalgia.

Ok, I’m guessing that if you know as much about fibromyalgia now as I did then, you’re probably reaching for a dictionary, or more likely opening a new window so you can Google it. So let me save you the trouble.

Have you ever pulled a muscle, or had cramp? 

Of course you have, everyone has had those “Uh-oh!” moments, the ones that result in you suddenly hopping round the bedroom at two in the morning, swearing your head off and trying to straighten your toes. Or that horrible sensation in your back when you try lifting something just that fraction too heavy and realise too late that you’re going to be wincing every time you bend over or get up from a chair for the next week.

Well, imagine that feeling, but all over your body.

All the time.

You can’t, can you? You literally cannot imagine it, because your brain quite rightly won’t allow you to synthesize that experience, any more than you can really remember just how bad toothache is. There is a failsafe in your brain which stops you experiencing pain, except when it is received as the kind of emergency warning signal that it’s designed to be.

If you put your hand in a fire, your brain tells your hand that it’s in pain, because that’s the quickest and most effective way to get the idiot who put it there to take it out.

Except that isn’t quite right. What’s actually happening is the nerves in your skin are telling your brain that your hand is burning and your brain, in reply, is telling your hand that it’s in pain.

But what happens if your nerves tell your brain that your hand is burning, even when there is no fire? What happens when your nerves tell your brain that your whole body is burning?

Put simply, Fibromyalgia (or “fibro” for short) does basically that; it causes neural transmitters to constantly send false positive pain signals to your brain, resulting in permanent, chronic and sometimes seriously debilitating pain, everywhere at once, all the time. The very idea of it is terrifying to me.

When Rhonda first casually mentioned her condition to me, during a chat on Facebook,  I didn’t quite know how to take it. I mean, here was a woman who looked after her daughter on her own and ran a special needs residential care home and seemed to work eighteen hour days, almost every day; that didn’t seem like someone who was in constant pain to me.

Maybe, I thought, you can just have “mild” fibro, perhaps it wasn’t all that serious after all. But that only went to show how little I knew of Spoon Woman’s abilities.

Rhonda once told me; “There are three ways fibro can affect you; you can let it take over your life, just lay in bed and give up; you can moderate your lifestyle to alleviate the impact it has on you; or you can just get on with it. I decided that I was going to just get on with it and I wasn’t going to let it affect my life.”

I was awed by her attitude at the time, having never met her in person and only having known her a short while, but I just accepted it and thought no more about it.

Fast forward a few years, she and Audrey are here in the UK, we’re married and Rhonda is working full time at the local chip shop. A dream come true.

Except that isn’t quite right. Dreams-come-true don’t usually feature constant pain, at least mine never have.

You’d never know to look at her, that Rhonda was anything other than the perfect loving wife and doting mother. She cooks, she cleans, she does laundry like there’s no tomorrow, anyone would think she was addicted to housework. You’d never know she’s in discomfort, that her myofascial tissue is screaming blue murder and her skin itches so badly she wants to scratch it off. You’d never know the muscles in her back are locked into solid knots, so bad she has to lie on a deep tissue massage roller in the evening to release the pain, or that she has hypersensitive pressure points on her skin that can deliver bolts of agony if touched.

You’d never know, because she is Spoon Woman and she knows how to best use her spoon supply 

When I was going through one of my regular fibro Q+A sessions with her the other day, Rhonda asked me if I’d ever heard the spoon analogy. Funnily enough, I hadn’t.

Imagine you have a finite supply of spoons and you need to “spend” a spoon in order to have the energy to do everyday activities: 

Get out of bed – one spoon. 

Take a shower – one spoon. 

Get dressed – one spoon.

Get the kids off to school – one spoon.

Drive to work – two spoons. 

Find somewhere to park – one spoon, etc etc…

The secret is, to portion out your supply throughout the day, so that you don’t find yourself out of spoons when you still have stuff you need to do. And, like the energy boost tokens you pick up in video games, extra spoons may be obtained through napping.

Naps are sacrosanct in our house, I’ve learned to respect the power of The Nap. And I collect spoons, too, in my way. 

If I see laundry that needs doing, or if I can take Audrey out and leave Rhonda to nap in peace, if I have time to do the housework before she gets home from work and insists on getting the vacuum cleaner out, then that’s one more spoon I’ve saved for her, so we can enjoy the times we have when we’re all here together.

I’m still awed by her, my superhero wife, now more than ever, as I learn more about what she has to deal with, every hour of every day. Because, like all of the other, secret and silent superheroes with “invisible” illnesses, to look at her, you’d never know.

{To read about the origin of Christine Miserandino’s  Spoon Theory in full, GO TO THIS LINK}

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2016 in aardvark, Blogging, Personal anecdote

 

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It’s not you, it’s Them…

On the 23rd of June (just in case you’ve been living under a rock) the UK, or 52% of it anyway, decided to up sticks and leave the EU.

The Brexit, if you must.

The event itself is no longer news of course, nor, after weeks of social media meltdown and the meme-ification of politics, is it very interesting to me any more. In fact, I got so tired of arguing about it on Facebook (yes, this is ME we’re talking about, here) that I couldn’t even be bothered to write a blog post about it. 

As for analysing the tedious process of lying, spinning, vilifying, bribing, begging, blackmailing and bullshitting that passed for campaign rhetoric is concerned, I’ll leave that to the panel show comedians, the journalists and the more erudite writers, such as the lovely Mr Adam Pain, who wrote this excellent post on the subject at the weekend.

No, I’m more interested in a phenomenon a little closer to home, one which stems from the worrying but sadly not unexpected increase in the belief that the sort of casual, lazy racism that has been bubbling under the slimy surface of UK politics since long before Nasty Nigel quaffed his first pint for the cameras, is now perfectly legitimate because “the people have spoken, deal with it!” as I was charmingly informed on one Facebook comments thread, the day after we apparently became Great again.

Because, you see, I married an immigrant.

Wait, come back! No, it’s ok, she’s…well, she’s the good kind.

Before you write and complain, let me explain.

Rhonda is American, I’m pretty sure most of you have picked that up by now. She hails from Michigan and still has a strong accent, (the good kind) having been in the country less than two years. And ever since her visa came through, she’s had that most English of jobs, working in a fish and chip shop.

For the first few weeks that she worked there, clearly a novelty in hardly-cosmopolitan, rural Devon, Rhonda fielded a great many enquiries from punters, mostly along the lines of; “We went on holiday to America, have you been to Disneyland?” or “Now that’s not a Devon accent, not from round here, are you?” These slowly morphed into more specific questions, as regular customers got to know the nice smiley American lady behind the counter, such as; “So, what about that Donald Trump, then?”, as if she alone was capable of deciphering the rabid drivellings of a shriveled, narcissistic raffia-topped satsuma, simply due to being born on the same continent.

But apparently the shop counter small talk has taken a change for the unsavory in the last couple of weeks, since the very next day after the referendum, in fact.

Suddenly, a few casual comments about the result of the vote could turn to; “Yeah, we finally get to send all those bloody immigrants back where they came from…” followed every time by a slowly dawning look of horror on the face of the outspoken punter, and some hurried variation on; “Oh, I don’t mean YOU, of course, I’m talking about THEM, you know, the foreign ones.” 

Now, please don’t think that I’m defending any person’s right against that of another, to come to the UK legally and make it their home, by contributing to society and enriching it with their own cultural values, it is what made us “Great” in the first place, after all. 

And obviously (I hope) I’m not a closet racist with some sort of inferiority complex and secret, directionless rage issues.

But this is what I don’t understand; how is my lovely wife, who never has a bad word to say about anyone, any different from the charming Polish bloke at work, who also seems to see the best in everyone, no matter how ignorant they are? Why is she not tarred with the same “bloody foreigners coming over here stealing jobs from honest British fish and chip shop workers” brush as she undoubtedly would be by some, had she been sporting a neatly wrapped hijab, instead of a smart baseball cap?

Because she’s white, she’s from a country which has English as its first language (yeah, I know, but just go with it, ok?) and she has most of the same cultural and social points of reference as “we” do, that’s why.

I’ve had similar conversations, myself, the sort that include phrases like “fucking yanks, think they know it all…” or.“bloody immigrants, just want to come here and scrounge on our benefits” and rapidly stutter to a halt when I say something like, “Actually, my wife never claims to know it all, and she’s an immigrant, from America. And she got a job as soon as the fiendishly complicated and inhuman visa process allowed her to.”

“Ah” they say, usually with a knowing, wink wink, nudge nudge expression, “but if it had been one of them (insert toe-curling racist epithet here) they’d have got in with no problem at all, you mark my words.” Indeed I will, I will mark them “ignorant bollocks” and ignore them with the contempt they deserve.

Well, maybe not that exact conversation, but you get the idea.

It seems that these subliminal racial hints and in-built preconceptions make Rhonda somehow less foreign than them, at least to the sort of person who instantly equates other, more foreign sounding or, dare I say it, more brown-looking people with “immigrant”, which as a word, is being increasingly used as an insult and, as a demographic, is more and more being seen as a threat to “the British way of life”, whatever that is.

And yet, by the very definition of the word, Rhonda is an immigrant, just as much as my Polish mate at work and the nice lady who works at our local Chinese takeaway are immigrants. Useful, hard working, tax paying and as valuable to society as anyone else who is fortunate enough to call this peaceful country, unravaged by wars, famine or tyranny, home.

The fact that the Brexitastrophe has in some way helped to unmask the petty fears and prejudices of so many people in this, the country I have always been happy to call my home, makes me feel rather ashamed, especially when my wife comes home and tells me she was “disgusted” by some of the comments she heard in the days immediately after the referendum.

So, if you really are that convinced that all immigrants should be sent back to where they came from, or be subject to whatever private version of the final solution has been festering in your head, until the rise of proto-fascist snake oil salesmen like Nicotine Nige and Orange Donnie came along and gave you permission to voice your odious opinions with pride, then please, either have the courage of your convictions and stand by what you say, or, and this is the important part, so pay attention; piss off and go and talk to someone else.

Thank you for your attention.

 

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