photos, lock-down, image hosting and other stories

I used to have lots of photos in Livejournal -they're still there, but even at the time it didn't seem like the best platform for that sort of thing. Then I had lots of photo albums in Photopic (I think it was called) which folded. Then I had lots at the Apple iWeb pages. Which Apple closed. Moved to Flickr but that never worked very well for the way I do those things. Facebook is convenient for social event pictures but not for other things. SmugMug is overkill and a bit expensive for me. And it is a subscription, which I'm trying to avoid more of just as everybody in the software world is trying to sell you subscriptions instead of selling you the product outright.

During lockdown I decided to scan the thousands of pictures lying around in shoeboxes. If those pictures had even been in order that was long gone, they're all mixed up and it would take forever to sort them out -this would be much easier with their digital versions and I'm trying to do that. Also, looking for a place out there where to put it. In the meantime, I've been setting up albums in freeimage.host. One thing that concerns me is precisely one of the attractive things about it: it's free. How do they make their money? In any event, they do seem to have privacy settings and their T&C don't seem to tell you they're going to make money out of your pics or publish your private photos, so... in the meantime, my pictures are slowly making their way there. Some albums are restricted or private, so you just would see a few of them.

The address:
https://freeimage.host/fflavio/albums I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.
Book of G-Quan, Soldier of Darkness, B5

[ Books ] Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A very good story but perhaps not one that you would want to read during a pandemic... much more science-fiction-y than pretty much anything else by Margaret Atwood I've read (Handmaid's Tale is not really science-fiction, rather politics-fiction). Or, rather, apocalyptic fiction. It is, as one would expect from Atwood, very well threaded and it takes you some weird places. I enjoyed it a lot and will very very likely read the rest of the series.

View all my reviews I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

roller-coasters while stuck in the same place

Raining outside. It does make a change. It is a very strange situation we're living in but it kind of is even stranger if the weather outside is warm, bright and inviting.

Not enough private lessons, still trying to find a way to effectively promote this but, precisely, I ended up a musician and not a salesman; I'm rubbish at 'selling the product'. In the meantime, as I probably have mentioned before (how many times? really?), none of the help offered by the gov't. is available to me. Things not looking quite as bleak as they did in the beginning of this, though; one of my schools furloughed me but that's ok, the alternative would have been to be paid in relation to the few online lessons that would have taken place. The other school, after trying (somewhat unsuccessfully at least as far as music was concerned) to implement deferred lessons on Google Classroom, are going to start doing real time (zoom or similar) online lessons.

In the middle of this, with reduced income and the immediate future looking quite precarious, I received notification from the housing association that owns the other 60% of my flat, that they were putting up rent+ service charge by £300 more per month. Aargh. In these weird and already scary circumstances. So I sent them an alarmed email asking what was going on but also put it all out on Twitter, etc. Which.. at least thus far, seems to have worked: they sent me an email apologising and explaining it'd been a 'computer error' (hadn't heard that phrase used like that since the '80s), then a second email saying the service charge had been recalculated downwards -so my direct debit still is going up but not by £300. A small sigh of relief. I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

(no subject)

What was that cat meme? "Day 3763 of my captivity..."

Life outside of this seems like a distant dream, like something that happened to somebody else, like a parallel life in one of the many worlds far, far away.

My exciting outing today was to take the rubbish to the bin store room. Then Bibliogoth on Zoom, then a lesson on Zoom, then I was going to call my guitar teacher in Venezuela to say happy birthday but ... my Skype and all microsoft accounts are blocked as somebody got into them and made £20 worth of calls to Albania -and reset the security details. Many hours of joyful webchat and phone calls with Microsoft staff tying to sort that out. Yay.

I don't need anything from outside, got food, coffee (important) guitar, internet. But I do get itchy feet. I always thought I would be quite happy to just stay in and that if I won the lottery I would do a lot of that -but it is not true, or at least not when it is imposed, be it as it is the better option rather than catching that thing that could easily, at this age, kill me.

My sleeping patterns have gone to pot. I sleep four hours one night then ten the night after. And so it goes. How are you doing in that respect? I get reports of vivid dreams and I seem to have them but even though I think I remember them clearly when I wake up they quickly wash away. They all seem to involve a lot of getting lost in cities I am not familiar with or leaving important stuff behind and spend the rest of the night in various dream plots trying to retrieve it. Do you get the vivid dreams?

I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.
anathem, analemma

A couple of quick notes on my lock-down...

The future is a bit uncertain, although at least I'll have _some_ income from the schools I teach guitar at in the next three months. Beyond that, who knows. This situation could last longer, perhaps quite a bit longer, than that. In the meantime, my 36m² flat keeps shrinking, getting a bit smaller each day. I have enough 'virtual' social interaction, last night there was the usual Gothsluts pub meeting, only now virtual, happening on Zoom (comment by andyravensable : 'the drinks are cheaper and the music is better...'), also Bibliogoth, various friends' virtual parties and my own private guitar lessons, although I need quite a bit more of the latter.

A lot of people report inexplicable tiredness and sleep trouble -I've had both. it is just the stress of being in this situation without a clear end in sight, I s'pose. 

Pity that I just cannot get on with the book for the next Bibliogoth meeting: 'Our Lady of the Flowers' by André Gide. I knew of him, I'd read something by him when I was younger and I don't find his salaciousness shocking (as I did then) but his writing style makes it hard work for me and I find myself not caring for his characters or what happens to them. Will look into the new Hugo Awards list that [personal profile] sfred  posted, there might be something better for me there (we already had 'This is how you lose the Time Wars' last month in Bibliogoth). Have been watching 'Picard' and 'The Expanse' and a documentary on Robert Johnson the bluesman. Ran out of all three now... also, I've been practising guitar a lot! Which is good and necessary and does do quite a bit to help preserve (what's left of) my sanity.

The future is uncertain. But then it always was. In the meantime, we move on forward... I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

La Negra by A Lauro Flavio Matani, guitar

Flavio (that's me) playing a quick take at home of La Negra by Antonio Lauro, rather a long time ago (around 2008, I think). 1 minute version for IG.
Currently doing online guitar lessons!
for info on guitar lessons/performance:

I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.
anathem, analemma

lock down ...

Doing my guitar lessons online, and in some cases hitting the wall of the tools for this (Skype, Hangouts, Zoom) being designed for speech not music. In Zoom at least you can tweak the settings so it is a little better. Not all my pupils are taking online lessons, though, some have just paused the lessons which is a little bit of a worry but not as much as the having to wait for what happens in relation to my school teaching. One of the schools might pay for scheduled hours at least for what's left of the term (two weeks). The other one is being much more difficult. I fall between two stools in that on the schools I'm pretty much on zero-hour contract (but they hate it if you call it that) but also have private pupils. So, not sure whether any of the help that seems to be about to come for those categories of workers will apply to me.

Being on my own in a tiny studio flat can get a bit boring. Doing an almost decent amount of guitar practice, reading and the usual Netflix are helping; also finding I'm talking online to my sister and some friends a whole lot more than before. Not crawling up the walls just yet -maybe soon! 😀

The user icon (on DW) is an analemma, an illustration on Neal Stephenson's 'Anathem'. In that book there isn't a plague but there are events that profoundly change the world and its people. We might be at one such moment.

I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.
seventhseal chess

budgeting for the crisis?

94 quid a week? (correction -it is £71 and subject to self-isolation) That won't pay my rent or stave off bankruptcy but may help if there are other measures. We'll see. My schools still are giving no guidance as to what to expect. It is a complicated issue for instrumental music teachers, not only because we are essentially on zero-hour contracts but also because the bulk of our pay comes from what the parents of the pupils pay the schools for the lessons. We'll see what happens, in the Whatsapp group of the music teachers at one of the schools that has was being discussed today -but nobody knows.

Closure of schools may be inevitable unless that article by Peston on ITV News is right and the gov't is going for 'herd immunity'. Which, with an epidemic that has a 6% mortality rate (not sure this figure is correct, it's what I think I saw on the WHO pages, although the rate for the UK from their figures seems to be 2% at this point) would mean hundreds of thousands of dead. Surely not even the Tories would contemplate that seriously.

I s'pose that, at 67, I'm reaching the point where I'm in the 'quite at risk' category. Age is just a number? I certainly hope this thing hasn't got my number! I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.
scream, munch

some very small things came from afar

The schools I teach at are now covered in posters indicating the procedure to follow in case an infection with coronavirus is confirmed -or suspected. The Guildhall School of Music is closed for several weeks now as one case there was confirmed. I'm still not at all sure about all this. The virus exists, it is a problem but it wouldn't seem to be the pandemic that will carry off a quarter of the world's population. The way I see it reported in the media would make one think that this was imminent, The Black Plague v2.0. Also a couple of ancillary phenomena make me scratch my head. Hard. One is that brexiteers are already blaming the virus for any shortages and supply problems coming our way as a result of br*x*t. Another one is how, again in a similar way to br*x*t, it seems to have legitimised a sort of casual racism, most certainly in Italy where members of my family were reposting a radio feature by a politician where he was claiming that 'of course the Chinese would be carriers of disease, they are diseased and filthy, eat unnatural things and live like ants under that communist regime'. But also here, as seen in the media, where people are shunning Chinese restaurants owned by people who never have actually been to China and there have been reports of attacks on public transport, etc. This is very worrying.

The public measures to contain it are perhaps inevitable but, as a self-employed music teacher working in two schools (where I am not a 'real' employee but only get paid for the lessons that actually take place) I dread them far more than the virus -close schools for a month and I'll be on the brink if not actually bankrupt.

Well, I s'pose we'll have to wait and see how it all plays out.

I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.

[ guitar ] Napoléon Coste Op 38 No 2 in C major

Flavio (that's me) on a quick take at home of Napoleon Coste's Etude/Prelude Op 38 No 2, a piece recorded for a pupil. The guitar is a Yulong Guo Chamber Concert. Napoléon Coste was a French guitarist/composer who lived between 27 June 1805 – 14 January 1883.
for info on guitar lessons/performance:

I'm on Dreamwidth at http://flaviomatani.dreamwidth.org/ -do follow me there if you can.