This is the first of what will eventually be many posts of my own halting doggerel. I do try not to rhyme, but I can’t seem to help it. I have a particular set of rhythms and cadences too that I can’t seem to break out of. It’s here more for an archive than anything else, and I mainly write it for myself, but if you like it, please let me know 🙂

It’s time to bring the light back
Time to heal our broken souls
To salve our bruises
Lick our wounds
And repair this shattered whole

Don’t throw yourselves on mercy
In this apathetic realm
Your life’s a ship
On stormy seas
But you are at the helm
Though they seem to overwhelm you
These waves you can’t control
You grip the tiller
Your course is true
You will weather this storm whole.

It’s time to hold the dark back
Be a beacon in this storm
A lighthouse in
The cold and black
In a place that is kept warm

Don’t rely upon your body
Its awesome but fragile form
It does things
Of its own accord
Evolved in us to avoid harm
But the world back then was simpler
Handled well by fight or flight
It struggles now
In a complex world
Where things aren’t so black and white.

It’s time to take your mind back
From your body and its flaws
It reacts upon
The slightest threats
Treating them like tiger’s jaws

As you drown in information
Stories of horror, far away
You should know that
You are not to blame
Over these you have no sway
You must decide what is important
What is useful, real, and true.
Trust no-one when
They tell you so
The final arbiter is you.

It’s time to take the truth back
From the lips of those who lie
And don’t let this, our truth, die

Every day our hearts are broken
Filled with woe at mankind’s plight
Our compassion stretched
Out far too thin
So it’s impact is but slight
All these charities and causes
Parasiting on your guilt
They only help
You close your eyes
To the suffering we’ve built

It’s time to give our love back
Directly and with verve
To needs that sit
Right at your feet
That’s the purpose it best serves

So, we otherise each other
And wrap ourselves in baseless fears
We weaponise
Our differences
But normal’s an idea.
All this us and them will kill us
Is it part of some great plan
To divide and rule
Giving a free reign
To our inhumanity to man.

It’s time to take our lives back
We’re not resources or things
To be objectified
Our rights denied
This is mankind’s greatest sin.

Keith ‘Mandrill’ Neilson 21/12/2016

Author’s Note:
This is a poetic expression of an idea that I’m hoping to be able to turn into an essay or article at some point, and is inspired by my limited reading around Stoicism.

Meditation 1 – 15th December 2016

This is the first in a series of semi-regular streams of consciousness and are called meditiations as an homage to Marcus Aurelius and his ‘Meditations’, which I’ll admit I have yet to read.

So I started my fourth decade yesterday, and I can only hope that 2017, my fortieth year, is easier and less eventful than 2017.

This last year has been a bitch, seriously. From all the well loved and renowned artists and celebrities popping it throughout, to the unexpected results of the EU referendum and US presidential election, the world seems to be descending into an abyss. These are sideshows however, and while monumental on a macro scale, have little in the way of impact on my daily life. Events closer to home have tested me more this last year, but I have developed a mental and emotional resilience to allow me to withstand it, and a certain protective detachment that has prevented me from falling apart. It has not been easy or pleasant though, no matter how unflapped I appear on the outside.

I have discovered over the last year that I am more resilient than I thought. I can take whatever is thrown my way dispassionately and with equanimity. I have felt deeply for those around me however, and their trials and troubles have required that I keep it together, for their sake if not for mine.

The love of my life has been, and still is being, put through the wringer this last year. With the universe seeming to pile trouble upon trouble like some sort of vindictive torturer and all I seem to have been able to do is watch. I’ve been told that being there is enough. Simply remaining a fixed point, a constant and unperturbable presence is sufficient, but it doesn’t feel like it. I’m constantly thinking that there must be more I can be doing but I don’t know what it might be…

So I’ve plodded along, carrying normality on so that it’s there for her to come back to. Demonstrating that, no matter what reality throws your way, life goes on for better or for worse, and we can’t let circumstances defeat us, make victims of us, or force us to change, unless we choose to.

There have been a few times in the last year when my strength has been close to faltering and I’ve snuck off somewhere quiet for a sob. I have come to the realisation that giving in, running away and hiding, doesn’t solve anything and has the added disadvantage of not getting anything else done either. If I am to be defeated, then it will not be by the mindless and unfeeling vicissitudes of reality.

It’s an effort, keeping it together, but it is one I’m more than willing to make. Not for my sake, as I’ve already said, but for the sake of those I’ve chosen as my family, and whose wellbeing I value. I do sometimes wonder when I’ll get a break though…

I don’t expect one, naturally. I cannot plead with reality to go easy, it has no concept of mercy and no capacity for compassion to appeal to. I will seize any opportunity for respite when it comes my way though, and will share it with my beleaguered companions. I can only hope they do the same.

M out.

Theme Progress

Work on the custom theme for this blog progresses. As I mentioned last post I’m developing it on an AMPPS (v3.6)server running on Windows 10 and basing it on the Blankslate theme with Fakerpress dummy content.

Just HTML and CSS at the moment to get the layout and typography sorted out and after that I’ll be digging into the PHP of the theme and sorting out template tags. The plan will then be to add some jQuery goodness to get some nice (IMO) UX features.

Here’s a WIP screenshot.
blog-wipIt’s a fairly standard blog layout at the moment, but this will be changing. My plan is to have the navigation at the top display different versions of the loop where appropriate

  • Home will be the main feed of everything posted, the standard front page of any blog.
  • Posts will be for blog posts only and will only display the Posts category. Posts will be tagged with more granular information about the content.
  • Stream will be where my stream resides. Still figuring out how to integrate Twitch with WordPress and I’d like the nav link to have some sort of ‘On-air’ indicator. The stream content will include an archive of past streams and information about scheduling.
  • Articles will be longer form pieces. I’d like to make these WordPress Pages if at all possible, but also have them appear in chronological order as part of the main blog feed. I also need to figure out how to get them to display on their own as posts would on the front page, with all the same information.
  • Merch will be where I’ll be offering things like mugs, t-shirts, etc for sale. This may also act as a showcase for any design work I do, with a mind to making it available as merch. I may have some sort of rating system for my designs so I can see how much interest there would be in merch featuring it.
  • The search box in the sidebar will be removed and the main search will only search within the selected category (Home, Posts, Stream, Articles or Merch) I’ll also be removing the search box at the top of the category and tag display pages and everything will go through the main search in the header.
  • The sidebar will also change content dependent on the selected navigation option and will eventually be hideable with JS.

I have a masthead designed as well:

twitch-headerI’ll be adapting this design in a variety of ways for inclusion on some merch. The motto is latin and says “Amabit sapiens, cupient caeteri”. Attributed to Horace, a roman poet, ~65-8 BC, and translates as:

Wise men love, others are mere lechers

I’ll have more to say about this in a later post or article.

Let me know what you think of the design so far and if there are any glaring issues that jump out. I realise there may be issues for some with the choice of palette and will be looking into ways to provide the option of an inverted version which is black on white to reduce eye strain.

As ever, comments are open.

M out