Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog
Creative MediaMonday, February 22nd, 2021, (7:38 pm)

The COVID-19 pandemic left me with quite a lot of time on my hands, as I think it did for a lot of people. Where I might be traveling or spending time with friends I was now confined to one place and overdosing on screen time. With little else to do, I decided to redesign my work website and logo.

Ethical web developer

I started MELT, a web design company, back in 1997. In financial terms, it didn’t make me rich, but over the years it afforded me the freedom and opportunity to spend a great deal of time traveling and filling my life with stories and adventures from far-flung places.

I generally don’t think my logo is very important. I was never going for world domination or brand loyalty. I wanted my customers to relate more to me as a person rather than just another logo from some company they ultimately don’t care about. With that in mind, I always put more into building relationships rather than logos. I still have customers today that I had in the late 90’s!

MELT always had a logo. It was on my invoices and on one set of business cards I had printed in the very first year of business. The thing is, I never really liked any of the logos I designed for MELT, so while the world was locked-down I decided to fix that.

I’d been using a kind of ‘Batman’ style M logo for a while and I wanted to continue with the M, but I wanted it to be colorful. People often think the stories I tell are perhaps a little ‘colorful’ because surely this thing, or that event, didn’t quite happen like that, did it? (Yes it did actually!)

After months of tinkering with various designs, I eventually had three concepts that felt good to me (below). That was late September 2020. All I needed to do was settle on the design. But then Google unveiled their new logo for Gmail in October.

MELT web studio

When I saw it I was annoyed. If I went with any of my concepts people would be reminded of Gmail, and while I accept that logos can often be similar, I just didn’t want to look that similar to Gmail.

At the same time of creating my logo I had been designing the new website, and feeling a little fed up I decided to just keep the ‘batman logo’ for the time being. The site was finished at I was cleaning up some of the typography late one night when I decided to change the color of the period marks to yellow.

melt logo 2020When I refreshed the page to review the change the idea came to me; what about adding an M to the yellow dot? I opened photoshop and created a simple yellow circle then added the black letter M. I looked at it for a while, then thought; how about adding a period mark to the circle, which had itself come from a period mark.

It was probably 3 AM and I remember sitting back in my chair, looking at my laptop screen and saying out-loud, “Yes!”

Sure, nobody cares, my customers talk to Simon, they don’t talk to MELT, but this logo, that effortlessly fell together in little more time than it takes to create a circle in photoshop, just felt right.

I like it, I’m happy with it, really for the first time I’m happy with my MELT logo. I also moved the website from its old UK domain to the new address melt.life which also feels right.

The new site is working too, and I’ve started to talk about being an “ethical web developer” with a view of moving toward using technologies that don’t abuse people’s privacy or trust.

That last bit is a little harder. Being an “ethical web developer” is a bit like being a “pacifist executionist.” But hey, it’s a start. It’s a new start.

MELT web studio

Follow @itsgoodtomelt on Twitter

GeneralThursday, February 4th, 2021, (3:45 am)

If you’ve ever been to India you’ll know it’s an amazing country carved out of chaos and beauty. It was the first ‘far away’ country I ever visited in cultural terms, and there really are few travel experiences that compare to visiting India. I’ve had many memorable moments there, and today I shared this story with a friend, and now I’m sharing it with you.

Dirty Eyes

I rubbed my eyes and squinted at my laptop screen through a slight blur that was irritating me. Earlier I’d been to the local market down the hill and now, as darkness fell across the Himilayas, I was having to deal with the dust in my eyes kicked up from the soup of people, vehicles, and animals that sway and swirl on the busy narrow roads of that Indian hillside town.

This is a beautiful country for sure. Vivid, noisy, and aromatic, India is a veritable assault on the senses. You can’t be in India in the same way as you can be anywhere else. In India, you have to get comfortable with the fact that this isn’t so much a place you visit, but more like something that happens to you. And it was happening to me; the chaos, the wonder, and the dust in my eyes that was now driving me mad.

I spend a lot of time looking at screens, we all do I suppose. So I thought if it wasn’t a case of my eyes being dirty, maybe they were just tired. Is that even a thing? I heard someone sing about it before, but I suspect that had more to do with love than optometry.

Maybe my eyes were tired because there was so much around me that was new and unfamiliar? There were temples and tea houses, monkeys climbing on walls covered with stains and crumbling paint, a beautiful decay that seemed to sum up so much around me.

There was the snow-capped mountain that spent much of the time with its head in the clouds, a pastime that I was lead to believe was idle, but here it seemed nothing short of majestic. There were colorful signs, memorizing mandalas, and Buddhist prayers going round and round on bronze wheels still shiny from the millions of hands that have spun them through the years. So much for my eyes to see, I could forgive them for getting tired.

I tried resting them, giving them the ocular equivalent of a spa day as I sat on the balcony of our hillside retreat looking out across the misty valley while listening to the muffled sounds of India below. The blanket of green trees before me was surely a massage for my overworked eyes. But a day later the words on my phone still had that slight blur when I looked at it.

It was the dust, of course. Or maybe the incense that burns inside every place I went to eat. My eyes weren’t used to this air that often carries a hint of smoke. I washed them carefully with warm water, widening them with eyebrows raised so I could uncomfortably splash water right into them. But it didn’t make much difference, the slight blur remained.

I felt I needed something specialised to remove this grime. I’d seen something called an ‘eye bath’ on the internet so I decided to try and find one the next time I went to town. Supplies for all kinds of things in the mountains can be limited, but they’re always willing to order something for you to be delivered “tomorrow” which you quickly learn doesn’t actually mean tomorrow, but rather, just not today.

Indian town

In town, the optician I chose was a typical Indian shop, barely set back from the noisy street and populated with people who seemed to be standing around but not necessarily related to the business in any way.

Behind a desk sat a man with dark thin hair and a grey beard. I assumed he was the optician when he looked up at me and said, “Yes sir?”

I explained my problem, sure that this must be a common question in a place where exhaust fumes dance in the air with dust, cigarette smoke, incense, and a whole host of other airborne experiences.

“Do you have anything for cleaning eyes?” I asked.

The optician furrowed his brow and in a questioning tone he asked, “Cleaning eyes?”

“Yes, you know like an eye bath,” I said.

His furrowed brow deepened as he stood up and began to walk from behind his desk.

“An eye bath?” He said, repeating my last words in a tone that made it sound like I was saying something fantastical.

“Yes, an eye bath,” I said while I glanced around the brightly lit store hoping to see an eye bath.

“And why, sir, do you need an eye bath?”

Perhaps he knew what I wanted, perhaps he didn’t. It wasn’t clear. So I explained.

“My eyes are dirty, I need to clean them,” I said.

At this point, the other people in the shop were now all looking at me and my dirty eyes, including two ladies who possibly worked there, though who knows.

“Sir, what do you mean you have dirty eyes?” Asked the optician, still with a look of inquisition, like ‘where is this exchange going?’

Now perhaps you’re already ahead of me in this story and you know where this is going, but for me this was simple, my eyes were dirty from the dust that hangs in the air. Maybe when I am riding my motorbike I don’t notice how dirty my eyes are because I am just trying to avoid people crossing roads without looking, monks, children, buses, trucks, and cows, so many cows just sitting in the roadway chewing, without a care in the world.

I explain that when I look at my phone and laptop, the text is a little blurred – from the dirt. I tell him that my attempts to clean this grime from my eyeballs have thus far been unsuccessful.

The optician began laughing, and I should be clear here, this was no polite chuckle, this was full-on in-my-face laughing.

One of the random people asked in Hindi what was so funny. The optician answered, motioning to his eyes, and now everyone in the shop was laughing; just standing there laughing right at me.

“Oh, sir. Please, sir, you are how old? 45, something like this?” He placed a sympathetic hand on my shoulder while still laughing.

“Yes, I’m 45,” I said quietly looking right at him with what I imagine was a confused expression.

Everyone laughed more, saying things in Hindi I didn’t understand.

“Sir, your eyes are not dirty,” said the optician. “You’re just getting old!”

Everyone was having a good laugh. Everyone, that was, but me.

He continued. “You don’t need an eye bath. My friend, you just need glasses!”

He moved me to a machine to give me an eye test, still clearly delighted at the thought of me desperately trying to wash the failing eyesight from my eyes.

I looked through the machine at little dots, numbers, and a picture of a distant house.

The two ladies looked in cupboards and produced different boxes of spectacles while chattering in Hindi to each other and the optician. Then they handed me a piece of paper with some text on it and a pair of glasses to put on.

I looked down through the glass lens and saw the text sharp and clear on the paper. I looked up and smiled back at the optician. My dirty eyes were clean at last.

GeneralWednesday, January 20th, 2021, (4:45 pm)

He has left the White House for the last time. His trumpsterfire of a Presidency is over, so what now?

Donny Danger

The King of chaos may have been dethroned, but I wonder if he’ll somehow become more disruptive on the sidelines without people around him trying to slow down his tsunami of madness.

I want him to disappear and his tiresome blatherings to become utterly irrelevant. I like to think of him muttering angrily under his breath as he wanders alone into obscurity. But then I also think that he should be held to account for the mayhem he fomented.

Whatever happens, I’m glad that the man who was trusted with the nuclear codes, but in the end couldn’t be trusted with a social media account, has left the seat of power upon which there’s now a stain that even history won’t be able to clean.

GeneralThursday, December 24th, 2020, (4:00 pm)

As Santa embarks on another trans-global excursion to every dwelling on the planet, details are emerging that the lovable bearded old man may have been ‘patient zero’ in the COVID19 pandemic.

North Pole Informant Elf

As the world continues to struggle with the pandemic, an Elf from the North Pole has broken the Elf code of silence to blow the whistle on a health emergency that swept through Santa’s little helpers in late 2019.

Speaking under the assurance of anonymity the Elf raised the possibility that Mr. Claus might have been ‘patient zero’ of COVID19, or at least the biggest single ‘super-spreader’ of the deadly virus. According to the unnamed Elf, working conditions in the North Pole have become increasingly difficult over the last few years due to the effects of climate change. Reduced Elf numbers and production capacity has forced Santa Claus to outsource more and more work to China.

Wrong bats ordered from ChinaIn late 2019 after the Doosan Bears won the Korean Baseball Series in a tense final against the Kiwoom Heroes, the North Pole saw early Christmas list projections which suggested baseball bats would be a popular item for the 2019 Christmas.

Such items can be sourced from China at relatively low costs so a North Pole Christmas executive placed an order with a Chinese supplier for several thousand bats.

Unfortunately due to a clerical oversight the word ‘baseball’ was omitted from the order and as a result, the North Pole took delivery of several thousand live bats in early November 2019.

The North Pole is an inhospitable place for bats so the local department of Elf and Safety issued a directive for the bats to be housed in the same enclosures as Santa’s reindeer until they could be returned to the Chinese supplier.

Virologists studying COVID19 have speculated that the virus originated in bats and may have crossed over into humans at ‘wet markets’ in China. However, shortly after the bats were delivered to the North Pole the unnamed Elf informant reports that several Elves working in the reindeer stables fell sick with a mystery illness.

Sick ElfThe timing of the illness hit the North Pole at peak production time when output demands are at their highest. The North Pole’s own Department of Elf & Safety is now under scrutiny after they appeared to have ignored the rapid increase in the number of sick Elves, many of whom continued to work.

It’s unclear if Santa himself was made aware of the illness but it’s well known that absence from work in the peak production season is frowned upon by Mr. Claus who has, in the past, faced allegations of putting workers under ‘sweatshop’ conditions in the run-up to Christmas.

Given Mr. Claus’s close proximity to Elf workers at the Christmas headquarters, virologists suggest there would have been a very high chance Santa contracted the virus himself. However, given the secretive nature of Christmas operations, it’s not currently known if he showed symptoms or was treated for any illness before or after the holiday season.

Throughout 2019 China has faced criticism for its part in the COVID19 pandemic, not least from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who used the term ‘Kung Flu’ and ‘China Virus’ to describe COVID19. He blamed the Pandemic on China while assuring Americans it would disappear “like a miracle” in April of this year.

What did Santa know, and when?That focus will now surely switch to everyone’s favorite bearded old man who traveled to every country in the world last Christmas, handling gifts, eating mince pies and cookies, and drinking glasses of milk left for him at thousands of fireplaces.

Attempts to reach Santa for comment have failed so far and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is already tracking his movement across the globe. If Santa was patient zero of the COVID19 outbreak then his lovable image will be tested in the coming weeks.

With at least two vaccines for COVID19 now available perhaps Mr. Claus may want to work with governments to restore his reputation by putting some of that logistical expertise to good use. Certainly, nobody else has such a wealth of global delivery experience, making Santa Claus ideally positioned to at least advise on the delivery of the vaccines, even if it means delivering to individuals previously on the ‘naughty list.’

—-

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you all stay safe and well.

General and PoliticalSaturday, December 12th, 2020, (8:02 am)

Hello blog. It’s been a while since I was last here; four years to be precise. I’ll be honest with you, after Brexit and Trump happened I needed some space. My liberal leanings were challenged, and with so much rage and vitriol around, I didn’t see the point of being one more voice shouting into the toxic void known as the internet. Four years later, my toxic shock is over.

Trump beheading liberty

Nobody reads blogs anymore. Facebook dealt a body blow to online journaling and the rest of social media swept it away in a tsunami of bite-sized bullshit anyone could read and share in seconds.

Our collective attention span was reduced to the length of a tweet. People stopped reading the news and instead read only the headlines. We shared for ‘likes’ and loved the affirmation those hearts and thumbs-up gave us.

When Edward Snowden told us we were being spied on, and Cambridge Analytica was revealed to be manipulating all of us, the world didn’t rise up and demand accountability. Instead, we raised little more than a collective eyebrow, then went back to thumbing through memes and Instagram posts from ‘influencers’ who exist in color-saturated worlds we browse with a hint of envy and maybe a side order of disdain.

So when Donald Trump became the President-elect in 2016, it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Just months earlier, amid a storm of misinformation, lies, and manipulation, the United Kingdom had ripped itself away from its nearest neighbors in an isolationist divorce they called ‘Brexit.’

President PussygrabberThe term ‘Brexit’ shortened the complexity of the choice voters had and gave it a clickable brand. You were either for or against ‘Brexit’ and it didn’t need to be any more complicated than that. People defined in their own minds what that word meant, irrespective of what the truth was.

Across the Atlantic, Americans had ‘MAGA’ and their red hat revolution that liberals thought could never happen. A ‘pussy-grabbing’ reality TV President was an absurd notion, impossible they thought.

Even Trump didn’t believe he would win, shouting from his campaign pulpit about how the election was rigged and victory would surely be stolen from him by an establishment of unrelatable elites, journalists, and experts.

The sweet joy of ‘owning the libs’ and the idea of building a wall to keep everyone you hate from crossing your path was a delicious idea that ignited citizens who had long felt like nobody in power was listening to them.

Complicated conversations were reduced to a word or a slogan that you could declare or decry then quickly thumb to the next meme or morsel of fast news served in the palm of your hand.

It seemed to me that nobody was listening anymore. Everyone had an opinion, and many were shouting it while others slung bar brawl punches that landed like a messy end to a good night out.

We awoke the next day with digital hangovers, our heads pounding while outside normality was ablaze. Networks created to connect us had done the opposite. Truth and the opportunity to pause for thought had been drowned in an epic flood of fear and fury.

So on that cold November morning in 2016, what was I to write that hadn’t already been written? What point was there to write anything when everything had been reduced to slogans and portamentos?

TsunamiI felt lost and deflated. How had it got to the point where we knew more about what the people around us hated than what they loved?

As 2016 came to an end I wrote the final post on my 366 Pictures blog. It was a glorious summer day in Melbourne, Australia, far from the Brexiteers and the red hat revolutionaries. I didn’t think it would be four years until I would publish another word.

I thought of writing, even if it were just something to say I’m still here, still loving life and seeing the world. But nobody reads blogs anymore. If you’ve made it this far then we’re probably friends, and if we’re not we probably should be.

Blogging as a form of communication is dead, and that’s why I haven’t written anything for four years. If you and I are friends then we’ve been in touch, haven’t we? And if not, then let’s fix that.

Let’s fix that because in this world of instant communication, communication itself is broken.

So maybe rather than watching another documentary telling us that, or posting something on social media lambasting this truth, we can take back a little control by reaching out to one another to start talking and maybe, more importantly, start listening.

As for my long-forgotten blog, dated and derelict as it is, perhaps I’ll return to writing here. Not because anyone is reading, but because writing itself takes time.

To sit and craft one sentence after another requires thought, meditation in a way. We consume so much, maybe taking the time to create something as simple as a sentence can slow our rush to judgment?

I’ll write like the child who waves at passing airplanes knowing that the passengers won’t see them. They don’t need to see. I’m not waving for them, I’m waving for me.

Illustrations by Edel Rodriguez and Lennart Gäbel

PoliticalTuesday, November 8th, 2016, (12:00 pm)

Tomorrow could be a big day for Canada. If Führer Donald Trump wins the Presidency in tomorrow’s US election untold numbers of U.S. citizens will have to make good on their promises to pack up and move north of the border. Fortunately for them, Justin Trudeau has not announced any plans to build a wall on the southern border of his country… and make the Americans pay for it.

Americans willing to become immigrants

The final episode of the long running reality TV show called the U.S. Presidential Election will play out tomorrow across the United States and the world. Most of us non-Americans are hoping that it will be the end of the absurdity that the U.S. has inflicted upon us, but in truth I suspect it might merely be a transition into a new season of ridiculousness.

My hope is that the Reality TV twerp, Donald Trump, will not emerge the victor, and that once beaten, he will graciously step aside and allow the only marginally less acrid character of Hilary Clinton to begin her term as the next President of the United States of America.

Trump supporters will, of course, cry foul. They’ve been trained to rattle on about voter fraud and election rigging, and facts to the contrary will only strengthen their resolve about the so-called ‘liberal media’ being part of a grand scheme.

I’ll agree with Trump on one point; The political system is a mess. But he’s not part of the solution. In fact, he’s actually a product of the problem. Trump was born into wealth and as such he is part of an elite section of society that enjoy the spoils of a growing state of inequality that is beginning to look reminiscent of pre-revolutionary France.

In his 2014 TED talk, billionaire Nick Hanauer warns his fellow plutocrats that “the pitchforks are coming.” Though there seems little evidence that anyone of them are paying attention.

Efforts to “Make America Great Again” will require more than just a tag-line and a ring master who can whip-up a crowd like a travelling faith healer. But then again, “Hope and Change” haven’t exactly worked wonders either.

The word we hear a lot these days is “broken,” and after months of unavoidable political mud-wrestling thrust upon us, few would disagree that the system is indeed dysfunctional to say the least. The pity is that despite the rallies, the promises and the slogans, tomorrow won’t fix anything.

Make America Great Again. Again?

Don’t forget to check out 366pictures.com where I am blogging every single day through 2016. Check out a new picture and story each day, sign-up to get the pictures and stories delivered by email, and see them on facebook too!

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