Another Year…

Cool and Groovy Blog graphic by Stevie C

*Sigh*

8th Nov 2013 - 23rd Feb 2014…


“Choose wondering who you are”

There is nothing worse in this world than me waking up with a raging headache and that all-encompassing feeling of dread and “OH NOES”. Renton-style “OH NOES”. I still have my cellphone, iPod, camera, credit card, cash, wallet, shoes, hat - and nothing has been spilled on the laptop. That panic over, I can go back to silently hating parts of myself I wish I could just remove like a PCI card, or whatever. I do seem to have a large half-eaten pizza though.

I have found a potential hug buddy, so all may be well again.

You read correctly. Somebody in this world wants to hug me. :)


Stevie in review

Apparently, people tend to work in areas that sound like their names.
Stevie = Peavey?

Sound-wise, I have come a long way. From screwing with a VCR & Windows Sound Recorder to operating C90-based 4tracks & basic mic techniques, through multi-track recording & complex multi-mic techniques, re-amping & wacky reverb chambers to operating the biggest (and smallest!) multi-channel live consoles - as well as a few DAWs, vision mixers, DMX controllers etc as well as shifting literally tons of boxes along the way.

In sound engineering 101 and acoustics theory I learned about cool stuff like room modes, reverbs, echoes, RT60 times, binaural perception and how to understand/implement them in real life. Couple that with things one learns about autism: things such as audio filtering and separating meaning from intention and intonation. Forgetting that once you have learned how to look for and analyse these artefacts - you cannot unlearn them. So before, when you thought “noise in that direction, cool!”, it’s now more a case of “noise, noise everywhere!!!”.

I notice the same thing at guitar class: before I had all this understanding, I would sit in guitar class happily playing away; it was only when I heard a recording of the class that the room sound/reverb etc was brought to my attention - as microphones do not hear sound as we do (unless they are arranged as a binaural pair - and even then EQ’d properly etc…) as they do not actively filter useful sound from background noise. Now however, I sit in guitar class unable to concentrate (some say it’s lack of practice, which may be at fault too). We were in a new room these past few terms and I can hear the room almost exactly as a microphone would - the result of which I have to work overtime in just deciphering meaningful audio from noise - leaving little brain CPU for reading music/keeping volume & tempo in check etc. Granted, this new room IS bigger, but this is by design to accommodate more guitars. More guitars = more noise + more reverb. More reverb = more audio mush.

I think my mind is ruining my life.


December.

I suppose I should let you know how much I enjoyed another stint of panto (read:paid work) - A LOT! What can I say - being a spot op is fun, which not a lot of people can understand.

I also reprised my role as the DD8 Music Light Fairy for their Christmas Party in Kirriemuir Town Hall.


Work Updates

Now that I’m toying with running my services as a business - as opposed to unpaid work for non-profits or payment-in-kind for mates etc, I think I’ll need to publish some kind of equipment list so that people can see what I can offer. But here’s the thing: I’m not sure I want this to be my main business. I don’t want to do 18th and 21st birthday parties or weddings for people I don’t know and will in probability hate to bits for whatever reason (getting drunk then breaking my gear and refusing to replace it most likely). That and the fact I’m not a real DJ. Playing cheese at other people’s parties would drive me insane. Probably.

I still wish to be a Roadie on a tour or a lighting technician in a theatre. Each would have me on the employer’s books as far as tax, insurance and public liability was concerned as is the case with the theatre in Arbroath (I have no idea about freelance cover however). The problem is that trying to run my party/event lighting hobby as a business will require standalone insurance/liability - things that are currently covered by every venue/organizer/event I volunteer/work for. Not least with insurance as the likes of BECTU, The MU, PLASA and Equity run into a grey area as far as DJ/Site Lighting is concerned as they are not primarily catering to this and may well require extra cover from the likes of Doodson.

Jumbled thoughts aside, I’m trying to say that I love doing lights, but only for the friends, acquaintances and friends-of-friends that seem to currently occupy my time. Read: Nice People. I wouldn’t be against working for someone just because I hadn’t met them, but by the same token I couldn’t stand working with someone who didn’t treat me or my gear with any form of respect just so I could earn a few quid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a few 18th & 21st parties in Kirriemuir (as well as a few 30ths/40ths in Dundee) - admittedly for friends-of-friends - but nicer clients I could not hope to meet. This is exemplified by an anecdote from a mate’s son: During a snow day in Kirrie, they built a real functioning Igloo in the school grounds that survived for days after the snow melted. Meanwhile, in Forfar, teachers and their cars were pelted with snowballs with nails & eggs in them…
Maybe there’s something about Kirriemarians (Or Kirreans (Think Korean) as I like to say)…

My lights are my babies - someone once managed to slice through one of my festoon harnesses after not paying due attention. It would be like me cutting his kids’ finger off.


No Peopling Allowed? Ridiculous.

My Student Advisor Andy once compared me to “a tweeter driver without a horn on it” - essentially a speaker throwing sound all around without directionality. I would like to compare myself to a Leatherman (a multi-tool) - I can do a variety of jobs but don’t focus on one: I’ve done work as a roadie, stage guy, sound guy, system tech, light tech, FS op, vision mixer, cameraman, overlays, stage-hand, asp/css/js/xml/html/vb coder, PC hardware installer, composer, organic gardener, labourer, festival/club barman, fishtank cleaner, pond cleaner, electrician’s mate… I don’t love most of these things enough to do them as a full-time job however. I like to think of myself as a bit like Ash “Three Socks” Morgan.

There was that National Service Bill that was making its way through parliament but was “bound to fail”, probably due to the large budget required. 6 months or so ago the idea of military service terrified me (especially when forced to do so). Now, joining the army of my own volition weirdly appeals to me. Is this some sort of Derren Brown Perception Without Awareness or ScuMoron’s ill-fated nudge theory? Or maybe it’s just part of my brain changing again. The thought of moving to England to work at a theatre no longer scares me senseless like it once did. This can only be a good thing.

For all that I go on and on about ASD and not being able to do certain jobs (those with high amounts of peopling for example), now probably isn’t the best time - what with Autism being an immediate no-no as far as any of the armed forces are concerned. That said, and with the anecdotal evidence of others, Asperger’s seems to treated on a case-by-case basis. This will sound naive but as far as the small amount of research that I’ve done suggests, I could still in theory go down the trade (electrical/engineer) road instead of being on the front-line, so to speak. Soldiers go on tours and lift heavy gear in uniform (DPM/MTP), wear headsets and follow someone with a metal thing on a tripod (e.g. an L85a2). Roadies go on tours and lift heavy gear in uniform (stage blacks - or theatre camouflage), wear headsets and follow someone with a metal thing on a tripod (e.g. a Vedette 12M-MT). Transferable skills?

In any case, sound guys would sample a staple gun at 192kHz and slow it down to make it sound like a gun. I’m already seeing a whole new sample-pack for my on-hiatus Binaural Sampler app. But let’s not get carried away here.

I don’t understand what is happening to me though; according to my political compass - which I have re-checked every 6 months or so - I’m a center-left socially liberal tree hugger, but who loves Top Gear, is an omnivore (that occasionally tries pescetarianism for a month at a time), thinks nothing of burning fossil fuels (especially in a GenSet at a gig) and is considering joining the army (and sees no moral conflicts about doing so)…
Take the Political Compass test here.

I’m going to leave it until after The HebCelt Fest and a mate’s wedding that I’ve been booked to do.

Speaking of mates, I really do need to work on keeping friends. Now that I can make friends, something that many aspies (myself included) can’t comprehend is how to KEEP friends once they have been made. This is something I need to work on. Whoever said that you can’t learn anything in the pub?

Other stuff I need to work on includes squeaking out monitors. And not panicking just before/during a gig. And getting paid for the work I do. And also building those disco screens and monster speakers I talked about in previous entries. And painting some more weird light bulbs. And trying to fulfil that bizarre dream of helping with hippy parties in the middle of isolated woods with monster speaker rigs and festoons everywhere…


ASPIECPU Error: Object Required

If user.object(‘requested.name’, ‘IsInDatabase’, true) THEN
compand.users(NewArray(skills, relation, subject)false)
Else GOSUB ThrowError
OnError GOTO LEARN;
function LEARN (person, data1+2, relationship, parameter);
IS MatchTo?? Array (OR) {
Location.Order.rule
Location.Semantic.rule
Stranger.Interaction.Pragmatic.ruleset
social.interaction.parameter
Is.friends; Is.acquaintance?
}
If NOT default.behavior=true THEN
AddTo.Array(AddEntryToDatabase, data1, data2, echo result);
End If
If contact SAYS [call new array($)] "[‘we’ ‘you’]
AND d/dt/n/nt [‘do’ ‘have’]" THEN
LOG: saying OR passing.command <> requested.action AND < action.required
Else
Ask.person, WARN:OnError retry(2), add Database.Entry
ECHO "How do you do that?"
AND SELECT "Can you explain?" / "What are the rules?"
OR SELECT "I’m confused" / "I don’t understand"
End If
LOG: Awaiting User Input…

I am a robot. You Knows It. © 1983


Need a demo recorded?

I love the fun of preparing to go out recording on location - and the challenges each session provides.

It’s something to do. It’s an adventure.


Feck.

I’ve heard/read (though I can’t remember where) that people who swear are far more trustworthy than those who don’t. I hope one of my old lecturers is reading this.


Moan.

Feel free to skip to non-moany stuff.

Bus drivers are a funny breed. I’m regularly told “Sorry pal, I don’t have 50p change” (might not sound much - multiply that by 10 times a month when you’re on low/no income). But try having 5p too little for them and it’s another game altogether.

Also, there was the old grump on the 16A who shouted abuse at me for having a half-eaten bag of crisps. After I ditched said crisps, 2 junkies got on despite not having the full fare - they did however have lit fags and open tins of lager…

And then there was the bus I got home after a day at the panto in Arbroath - the bus was already filled beyond capacity and on comes this tramp who hasn’t washed for a decade. Why do they always sit next to me? I just wanted to die, his smell was that bad. But of course, the driver couldn’t put him off because that would be one less fare he took - never mind that there were 80 people on a 50 capacity bus that were probably put off from never using them again. “For the comfort of other passengers, please refrain from using MP3 players and mobile telephones” - but feel free to not wash then come on board and soil yourself.

Bus drivers aside (the one job I can think of that actually would rely on “customer focus” but does no such thing), there are plenty of jobs I’m looking into only for some ridiculous qualification or skill to be a prerequisite… Such examples are just the usual suspects - kitchen porters/cleaners etc that one would think have very little if any customer interaction, and yet insist on years of customer service experience… Why?

“We want a lively energetic people-orientated tech-wizard with decades of experience and qualifications coming out their ears to join an exciting fast-paced yet lifeless faceless and soulless company. We want you to bend over backwards for our corporation while making us look good and licking our backsides for minimum wage - and we will fire you as soon as it saves us a few pence per year”. Or words to that effect. I’m a very cynical person.

So many times do I see the consequences of HR managers et al hiring completely the wrong person just because they can tick the right boxes on a form: the local hotel that went through about 7 kitchen porters and managers before going bankrupt (because they just kept hiring their mates who flaked out a week later), the care home where patients were abused because the owners only cared about profits and hired the first person that applied, even the Foley artist for Midsomer Murders (please get more than one pub SFX).

Most people are idiots. “Hell is other people” - Sartre.

eBay: “Sold As Seen!!! Theses are my condishuns!!!” From a low-res cameraphone image?

I hate how people on the internet say that musicians et al shouldn’t be paid and just do music for the fun of doing it. I think they shouldn’t be paid for washing dishes or whatever they do and just do it for the fun of it.

I also read about an American chat show host asking a boy about what America should do about the massive amount of money that they owe China - the boy’s response was: “kill everyone in China!”, to which the audience erupted into laughter.
I’ve got a better idea: PAY UP MAYBE?
For all they bang on about repossessing people’s homes when THEY owe money…
That’s my idea: America can pay China or have their home repossessed.

And if the UK gov’t really want me to vote “NO” then they can bribe me. They can obviously afford to bribe everyone else (while claiming that they’re broke). I’m voting “YES”, but on the proviso that we can take Brighton, Manchester, Wales, Yorkshire, Carlisle and NI with us.


Kathryn’s Wisdom

This section is named after my idiot JSA advisor who is neither wise nor advises me. She seems to be blissfully unaware of any laws, regulations or indeed her job brief. And her breath absolutely honks.

She reckons that I’m “very suspicious” - in relation to sending my personal details to their website over an unencrypted connection when they had a well published history of successful hacking attempts and data breaches. On a website that constantly crashes and hits 404 pages and changes design daily (It’s almost as if they are making it as difficult to use as possible). Where the developers (who have so far made millions off the UK gov’t for something a small web dev business could have done for hundreds) recommend IE5 or Netscape as suitable browsers (and a 28kbps or faster dial-up connection). And where all the jobs are either fake, outright scams or sex work. The Joke Center don’t even publish their own jobs on the site…

Some of her other wisdom include the classics: “Oh you can’t be disabled because you’re not in a wheelchair!”, “You won’t get that job because they won’t employ a retard” and the all-time best “Autism is curable with an over-the-counter pill from the chemist!”.

Somebody told me that I was as much a problem for them as they were for me. Until I have the ability to fine them a week’s pay for having their keyboard a centimeter too far to the right, that is not the case.

On the subject of employer-incentives: on the surface a good idea, but when you look closer, it’s just me doing the Joke Center’s work for them. Let me explain: I take an explanation leaflet to a potential employer, they think it’s a good idea, they contact the JC who send someone for interview - but not me.

It’s the difference between:
"www.employthisperson.com?target=Job_center&contact=Kathryn&ref=Steve"
and:
"www.employthisperson.com?target=Job_center&contact=Kathryn".

I do hear stories but no-one I know chooses to “live on benefits”. Actually, you “survive on benefits”, not “live” - regardless of what the Daily Mail says. I’m actively seeking work - as can be proved by my work with the council and with various PA companies - but why should I essentially work for free for a multinational that could well afford to pay me? I’ve been told (admittedly only by pensioners) that I won’t be working for free as I’ll still get JSA. I asked them if they would like to work for their pension and they soon shut up. The only people living on benefits are the politicians and their schoolboy buddies.

I’m on the work programme now. I take 2 buses to an office below a gym to sign onto a PC with a sticky yellow keyboard and grotty mouse and look for jobs in a locked-down version of IE, where most job sites don’t function as their resource sites have been blocked. Interesting fact: they are paid a few grand by the JC for each person they take on. The staff are also given bonuses for everyone they find work. When I was to temporarily sign off to start the month or so of panto work, the staff had a 5 minute shouting match over who got me the job at the council (and therefore who got the bonus) - despite the fact I had gotten the job of my own volition a year before the work programme were in the picture.

I went to a work placement at a steel fabricator plant - except I would have done had the JC not lost the paperwork after I attended the interview. I sort of wanted to go do the placement, but I feared there would be too many distractions, if you know what I mean. The manager took one look at my CV and asked “So… Why are you not away being a roadie in a band?” He proceeded to actually give me advice about networking - something that Kathryn had never thought about. She didn’t like me mentioning this to her of course - and I was sanctioned. I won the appeal. So not only did I receive a back payment, they also had to shell out for court costs.

There was also 2 things on Channel 4 (who I’ve lost any remaining approbation for) that caught my attention. The first was about people trying to find work and the story of a lad who was an aspiring rapper who received derision from everyone for trying to follow his dreams. His talents aside, the programme was clear: don’t follow your dreams but do slave away doing something menial you hate just to pay taxes - or something cynical to that effect. That said, there are opportunities for road crew on various specialist sites - at least so I’m told - whereas with a rapper, not so. I’d like to think that a roadie etc would be a valid career choice in their eyes; but as it’s an enjoyable job for the most part, probably not.

The other thing was about a “businessman” who had set up an intricate scheme with a CV warehouse (essentially a company that hoards people’s personal information for nefarious purposes) that paid him £1 for every CV he collected on their behalf.
Go way back to a job application Kathryn forced me to apply for (or face losing my pittance) via this agency. Turns out this agency was indeed bogus as I protested (Kathryn says I’m very suspicious, remember?) and that somebody somewhere now has my CV with no intention of giving me a job.
A simple Who.is gave me the details of the guy who had set up the bogus agency. Mark Coward, Coventry - I’m coming to get you.

“Between 40% and 95% of all jobs are not advertised. 75-97% of those with autism are not employed, despite wanting to be.” On that alone, and with the above in mind - I’m not feeling optimistic.

I’ve also lost most of my faith in humanity.


Weird Musical Feelings

I did something a bit different: after a night out I ended up on a mate’s sofa - trying to sleep with his 2 cats sleeping on me. The something different was listening to Christian Rock (The Digital Age) that had found its way onto my iPod while trying to get to sleep. Something weird happened…

I have always held a belief that certain pieces of music can evoke certain emotional responses from us; but I’m not talking about a song’s lyrics making you cry because you first listened to it during a bad breakup or serious life event etc. What I’m talking about is the musical progression or combination of certain chords/notes etc.

There have always been songs that had this effect on me. Most notably: Where Did It All Go Wrong? (Oasis), Half The World Away (Oasis), One Way Road (Oasis), D’you Know What I Mean? (Oasis), Bring It On Down (Oasis) - spotting a pattern here? There are others such as Iris (Goo Goo Dolls) or Bedside Story (Badly Drawn Boy) that have a similar effect, but nowhere near as strong as Oasis… Now, I can add Believe (The Digital Age) to the former list. If I was any less aware of this effect (note: DO NOT read less intelligent) I may well have confused this as a “Religious Experience” or as Jesus trying to find me - which is no doubt the message that The Digital Age write into their music. But I’m listening to the music for the musical content/sound engineering values and no other reason - just as I would with Metallica, Motörhead, Spinal Tap, The Sellars Brothers Jazz Quintet, Underoath, Miles Davis, Scorpions, GLC, BRMC, Wet Nuns, Ambrose and his Orchestra, Todd Terje, Morcheeba, Alex Mind, Willie Nelson, Pika, Guns n Roses, Toto or Justin Bieber… The idea of Jesus is nice, but I still base my decisions on fact and reason - something the Daily Mail would benefit from.

Believe by The Digital Age just warrants an amazing light show. With lots of Atomic 3000s.


Website Updates

I do love my website, but I also think I need to make some changes to it (maybe make the design more responsive). I’m experimenting with changing the CSS, some JS tweaks and creating a basic AJAX blog management system as things are getting a bit untidy. So apologies if things go a bit weird. Some of the systems are gonna be compiling for, ah, 18 to 20 minutes… Some of the minor systems, they might go on or off but it’s ah, nothing to worry about, just a simple thing…


Any spare gigs, pal?

If so, you know how to contact me.


One More Thing…

Click Bon Scott in the bottom corner of your screen.
He’s not going to click himself. :)


Stevie’s Top 40

I should probably point out that unlike my Last.fm profile, these Top 40 are just the songs I love the most at the moment - not necessarily what’s been played the most or been recently added.

  1. D’you Know What I Mean? Oasis
  2. Bring It On Down Oasis
  3. Supersonic Oasis
  4. Apathy Goldie Lookin Chain
  5. Believe The Digital Age
  6. Bad Guy Eminem
  7. Africa Toto
  8. What Have I Done To Deserve This? Pet Shop Boys
  9. Things Can Only Get Better Howard Jones
  10. Workaholic Goldie Lookin Chain
  11. Stop Before I Go APB
  12. Wrong Monster Alex Mind
  13. Dog P*rn Goldie Lookin Chain
  14. Ash Grey Sunday Screaming Trees
  15. Newport Bouncers Goldie Lookin Chain
  16. Safe In Sound Sub Focus
  17. Together (Hollen Remix) David Herrero
  18. The Cinema Show Genesis
  19. My Way Frank Sinatra
  20. Inner City Pressure Flight Of The Conchords
  21. Fresh Blood eels
  22. Nothing To Lose Isabelle Antena
  23. Play For Today The Cure
  24. Don’t Stop The Dance (Todd Terje Remix) Bryan Ferry
  25. Handyman Blues Billy Bragg
  26. Cubik 808 State
  27. GO! Something Broken
  28. Rhythm Of Love Scorpions
  29. 321 Scorpions
  30. I Hate Music (IDestiny Remix) Aaron Wayne
  31. Coup De Grace Motörhead
  32. Knife Motörhead
  33. Silence When You Speak To Me Motörhead
  34. Death Machine Motörhead
  35. What You Do For Money Honey AC/DC
  36. I’m Not Like Everybody Else The Kinks
  37. Broken Teeth Wet Nuns
  38. Le Kick American Fangs
  39. Spaced Invader (J Majik Remix) Hatiris
  40. Too Real The Levellers

Your <p> element here. Call 555-4648-8319…