LRAD and Protests

As anyone with access to news, social media, or other people will know, protests are currently happening worldwide. Sparked by the unjust death of George Floyd, the US has seen protests representing the Black Lives Matter movement in every state, with the national guard being deployed in at least 23 of these (Haddad, 2020).

Predominantly used by the military, there have been reports of a number of police departments using LRAD in response to the protests. While many claim this to be for communication, sources show that at least Portland PD have used these as a sonic weapon for crowd dispersal by “[emitting] a tone that is very hard to be around” (Jaquiss, 2020).

LRAD are Long Range Acoustic Devices, systems designed to carry messages at high loud levels over long distances. These systems are primarily developed by Genasys, a company who claim on their website that they create “solutions to help keep people safe” (Genasys Inc., 2020). Genasys state their products are able to communicate messages up to 5,500 metres, which begs the question – how loud does that make it at short range?

There are a lot of figures floating around regarding this level, with some claiming a level of over 150dB, but the most common figure that comes up appears to be 137dB at 1m. If you have no experience with sound or noise control related fields, this figure may not hold any significant meaning, so I will try break it down briefly.

The decibel is a logarithmic unit, used in this case as a measurement of sound level. The measurement of sound is not a linear scale for example an increase of 10dB is ten times louder. Due to this we have to use logarithmic equations to calculate different sound levels.

If we take the sound level at 1m to be the sound power level, we can calculate how loud it will be at certain distances with this equation:

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For this LP represents the sound pressure level (SPL) at a given distance, LW the sound power level (taken as 137dB), and S the distance.

Using this equation, the SPL at 100m would be 117dB and at 10m it would be 127dB. For reference, a jet engine produces around 120dB at close range (Pulsar PLC, 2019). Granted, this will vary with outdoor conditions, but for these purposes, this is accurate enough.

There are laws in place stating the safe exposure levels of noise in the workplace, after a certain level, employers are obliged to take action and provide protection. In the UK, the regulations are as follows:

80dB “Employers must assess the risk to workers’ health and provide them with information and training”
85dB “Employers must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones”
87dB “Above which workers must not be exposed”

(HSE, n.d)

These regulations are in place to protect workers from noise exposure related hearing loss and are fully detailed in the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005. Exposure to 85dB requires hearing protection as exposure to these levels can cause permanent hearing damage. Over 100dB, very little exposure is needed to cause loss of hearing.

Safe noise exposure is calculated as an acceptable amount over a working day – based on 8 hours – comparable to a maximum daily dose. As noise is increased, the acceptable amount of exposure is reduced. In the UK, this is calculated using ISO 9612:2009 as a standard method. Following this standard, an increase of 3dB halves the time before reaching this maximum dose.

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Following this, the maximum exposure for 88dB is four hours, 91dB is two hours, etcetera. By 120dB, this time is reduced to a matter of seconds. Using this pattern, at 100m the maximum exposure in a day to LRAD is only fourteen seconds. If you are 10m away from the system, the maximum exposure is less than two seconds. If these levels are imposed by law for all workplaces, protective measures should be in place for protesters and the general public.

In the case of extremely loud sounds, the ear has somewhat of a defence mechanism, this is called the acoustic of tympanic reflex. This reflex causes muscles – stapedius and tensor tympani – in the ear to contract when exposed to sounds over 75dB. The stiffening reduces the transmission of sound through the ossicles, protecting the inner ear from damage (Howard and Angus, 2006). It takes up to 120ms for the muscles to contract in this way, so it is not an instantaneous reaction to sounds of this level. Being exposed to noise as loud as LRAD can still cause hearing damage before the tympanic reflex has enough time to react to it.

One of the most commonly known forms of hearing damage is tinnitus. If you have ever been to a loud concert and have come out with a ringing in your ears, you have experienced a level of what this condition is like. In some cases, that ringing will go away within a day or two, but the effects can be permanent. While this condition can be caused by a number of things, one of the most common causes is high levels of noise exposure. High levels of exposure can cause damage to the small hairs in the inner ear, which causes conditions such as tinnitus (Davis, 2017).

As well as tinnitus, the flattening and tearing of these hairs – cilia – can lead to a loss of hearing sensitivity. Permanent hearing reduction comes when these hairs are damaged to an extent that overwhelms the healing.

Screenshot 2020-06-11 at 22.39.05

The hairs that pick up higher frequencies are the first which sound reaches in the inner ear. Due to this, hearing loss often occurs first at higher frequencies. A degree of this happens through presbycusis with age, but this can be accelerated by dangerous levels of sound exposure.

Another form of hearing damage is hyperacusis, a decreased threshold of discomfort from sounds. Essentially, this reduces the threshold of pain for hearing. This can range from mild discomfort from louder sounds to discomfort caused by everyday sounds.

Fears of hearing damage such as this, caused by the excessive noise levels of LRAD have in the past left some warning friends “if you hear this, plug your ears and run” (Kesslen, 2015). Without any hearing protection, there is little else that can be done when faced with such high sound levels. In cities where police are known to use such measures against protestors, some form of hearing protection should be carried.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety gives suggestions of three types of hearing protection to reduce the risks of hearing damage from noise exposure:

“Ear plugs are inserted in the ear canal. They may be remoulded (preformed) or mouldable (foam ear plugs). Disposable, reusable or custom moulded ear plugs are available.

Semi-insert ear plugs which consist of two ear plugs held over the ends of the ear canal by a rigid headband.

Ear muffs consist of sound-attenuating material and soft ear cushions that fit around the ear and hard outer cups. They are held together by a head band

(CCOHS, 2017)

Most ear muffs are reasonably priced, though may not be practical in the setting on a protest for everyone, they are quite bulky to carry around, and could fall off. While custom moulded earplugs are a very effective form of noise protection, if you are not using them for other purposes they are quite expensive. Foam ear plugs can be bought in bulk for very cheap; these are frequently single use so no harm is done if they are lost, and carrying several pairs allows for helping fellow protesters. If you prefer reusable ones, perhaps to reduce waste, there are a number of options available. Several brands make ear plugs that come in a case which is designed as a keyring – you will be less likely to forget or lose these.

Different types of hearing protection will work for different people, but it is becoming increasingly important to have some form of this when at a protest. Of course, this is primarily crucial in cities where LRAD is known to be used, but there are also high levels of noise from other sources at these events, so having hearing protection regardless would not be unwise.

Stay safe

 

References

CCOHS. 2017. Hearing Protectors : OSH Answers. [online] Available at: <https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ppe/ear_prot.html&gt; [Accessed 11 June 2020].

Davis, K., 2017. Tinnitus: Symptoms, Treatment, Home Remedies, And Causes. [online] Medicalnewstoday.com. Available at: <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/156286&gt; [Accessed 10 June 2020].

Genasys Inc. 2020. Communication. Critical To Saving Lives. | Genasys, Inc.. [online] Available at: <https://genasys.com/&gt; [Accessed 9 June 2020].

Haddad, M., 2020. Mapping US Cities Where George Floyd Protests Have Erupted. [online] Aljazeera.com. Available at: <https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2020/06/mapping-cities-george-floyd-protests-erupted-200601081654119.html&gt; [Accessed 9 June 2020].

Health and Safety Executive, 2005. The Control Of Noise At Work Regulations. London.

Howard, D. and Angus, J., 2006. Acoustics And Psychoacoustics. 3rd ed. Oxford: Focal, pp.70-71.

Hse.gov.uk. n.d. HSE – Noise: Regulations. [online] Available at: <https://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/regulations.htm#:~:text=The%20level%20at%20which%20employers,training%20is%20now%2080%20decibels.&gt; [Accessed 10 June 2020].

International Standards, 2009. ISO 9612:2009 Acoustics — Determination Of Occupational Noise Exposure — Engineering Method.

Jaquiss, N., 2020. Portland Police Deployed A “Long Range Acoustic Device” Friday Morning For Crowd Control. [online] Willamette Week. Available at: <https://www.wweek.com/news/2020/06/05/portland-police-deployed-a-long-range-acoustic-device-thursday-night-as-crowd-control-device/&gt; [Accessed 9 June 2020].

Kesslen, B., 2015. ‘Plug your ears and run’: NYPD’s use of sound cannons is challenged in federal court. NBC News, [online] Available at: <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/plug-your-ears-run-nypd-s-use-sound-cannons-challenged-n1008916&gt; [Accessed 11 June 2020].

MED-EL, 2014. How The Ear Hears Sound | The MED-EL Blog. [online] The MED-EL Blog. Available at: <https://blog.medel.com/how-the-cochlear-understands-so-many-different-sounds/&gt; [Accessed 10 June 2020].

Plc, P., 2019. What Are Decibels, The Decibel Scale &Amp; Noise Measurement Units?. [online] Pulsar Instruments Plc. Available at: <https://pulsarinstruments.com/en/post/understanding-decibels-decibel-scale-and-noise-measurement-units&gt; [Accessed 10 June 2020].

Sorry, was that a social cue?

I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to write this, but I figured no one actually reads it so I might as well.

This evening I was joking with housemates about embarrassing things we did as kids that you suddenly remember when you can’t sleep. Thinking about some of them, I realised they were actually just because I’m autistic.

There were times as a kid I got told off for not looking at people when they were talking to me, I didn’t know how to explain that it made me really uncomfortable. I also over compensated for this, and then got in trouble for staring. It didn’t seem like there was a right way of doing things, but everyone else somehow just knew what they were meant to do.

When I was in primary school I had a small group of friends. As with most people that age, there were lots of fights and making up, but one really stayed with me. In general, I don’t remember that much of primary school so this memory being so clear stands out even more in my mind. Not long after a falling out, I remember my friends sitting me down in the middle of the playground for a lesson. In my mind this was one of the most humiliating things in my childhood as the ‘lesson’ was them teaching me “how to be less Megan”. It’s the earliest I remember consciously thinking there was something wrong with me and that I had to change myself. I don’t even think the others involved would even remember this because we can only have been 8, but thinking about it I still want to disappear.

There have been so many other times where I’ve sat wishing I was just normal or I could fit in. At the time I didn’t know I was autistic, and had no idea why other people found social stuff so much easier. I had a few friends in secondary school who I looked to guide me socially, I found it really difficult to know how to interact without them. Most of the time it was easier to stay quiet and if I caught myself talking too much about something I’d apologise and just not talk for the rest of the conversation. I saw someone describe it as feeling like an alien trying to work out how human are supposed to interact, and that explains it really well. Social interaction makes me really anxious, partly because it’s difficult to read people.

I also have some sensory issues that set my nerves off. Certain sounds make me really uncomfortable or feel on edge, and I can’t explain what makes a good or bad sound. If there are too many noises going on in one setting I find it really difficult to process them and it can cause a lot of stress. While it might annoy a lot of people if someone watches something on their phone while the TV is on, or there’s more than one conversation in the room, I stop being able to take any of it in. Someone could be saying my name and talking directly to me, but if there’s too much else going on, there’s a good chance I won’t respond. When I get overloaded with senses like this, I feel incredibly anxious. Normally my legs will be bouncing, I scratch at my hands, or count my fingers. Honestly, it makes me want to scream and curl up on the floor (but that’s very socially unacceptable).

Shopping is one of the worst things for this, there’s sudden changes in lighting when you walk into a shop and I get dizzy from the get go. Suddenly you’re in a pretty tight space, surrounded by people, with beeps, footsteps and conversations from every direction. Most of the time in shops I get very stressed out, and it doesn’t make me a great person to be around. It’s frustrating not being able to explain what the feeling is, especially not knowing why I felt that way for most of my life.

If I’m overwhelmed, I have a habit of going non verbal. A lot of the time with this I literally can’t process that someone is addressing me, but even if I can, words just won’t come out. You know when you’re younger and you need to tell your mum something that will get you into trouble, and you just sit there trying to force words out but somehow your mouth detaches from your brain and you lose the ability to speak? It’s like that.

Even in this year I’ve been shouted at by a colleague for not immediately replying to them when I was panicking. Please be patient, I would love to be able to communicate, believe me.

The last ten months have been, admittedly, all over the place. But positively, I now know that I am autistic and I live with five of the most loving and accepting friends I could hope for. There are still times I get overwhelmed, frustrated and self concious about who I am, I wasn’t expecting that to change over night. But now I am in a place where I am growing to accept it, so I can give myself the space to learn better ways of coping. I’ve found much healthier ways of feeling I’m in control and safe (turns out my wanting to lie on the floor was valid as it’s where I feel the safest).

Outside of my house, I have some amazing friends now. They’ve helped me feel relaxed in social situations around them so I can really enjoy being around friends. So many of them have been patient with me and reminded me constantly that they love me as I am. I still have to ask them about a lot of stuff but we’re at the level where we can joke about it while they help me. One of them even recently gave me a step by step guide on what flirting is, admittedly I still have literally no clue but I appreciate it all the same.

This post didn’t really have any purpose than me talking for my own benefit, but it has at least allowed that. I’m trying to stop apologising for myself and embrace this, and it’s made me so much more confident and happy. And no, it’s not because I was vaccinated.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far. Until next time ✌

Quarantine Procrastination

I would love to say anyone would be shocked that it took a pandemic for me to return to this, but that’s certainly not the case. There is definitely work to be done that is far more urgent than this blog, but I feel writing this will be somewhat therapeutic and get me into the right headspace. Plus, you know, procrastination.

I should start with a brief rundown of what has changed since I last got round to writing one of these. I am still living in Southampton, currently with five amazing housemates who are getting me through lockdown. I am now a little over halfway through a Masters in Applied Acoustics, which has brought a whole new world of challenges.

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A lot has changed over the last year, and I genuinely believe it is all in the best of ways. I won’t lie and say it hasn’t had its low points and struggles, but I feel like I have learnt a lot about myself over this time and really found a sense of belonging. For a lot of my life, I have felt quite alien to a lot of situations, and a recent diagnosis of autism has shed a lot of light on that. If anything, I feel this has given me nothing but confidence. Knowing that there’s a logical explanation for those feelings and that I’m not just really bad at life has let me really embrace it.

 

Spending a lot more time on my own has also really allowed me to explore where I am in my life and meet new people who have become such big parts of my life that it seems impossible that they weren’t there a year ago. A year can change so much, and I am excited to see where I’ll be in another year’s time.

As anyone reading this would know, it’s now day twenty-seven of the UK lockdown… I have friends learning languages through this, some working at hospitals, and some struggling to work out what this situation means for them. This time has brought out so many different things in people, it’s uncertain and frankly scary. It’s amazing if you can use this time productively, but it’s just as okay to not be able to. I’ve seen a lot of posts calling people out for not using this time to learn a new skill, create something, get more work done than ever… But I feel this attitude is dangerous and ignoring the basic fact that this time is not easy, and people are going to struggle. So if, like me, you’ve had days where you’ve had no motivation and binge-watched Tiger King, you’re still doing good. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by friends and a support network, but a lot of people aren’t in that position. Now it’s more important to be kind to each other, we’re all human and we’re all scared. I just hope we can all come out of this proud of how we’ve acted. Be kind to yourself too. Put that facemask on, eat that chocolate, watch your favorite film. Now isn’t the time to be harsh on yourself.

Problem Five

I’m going to pretend I didn’t totally abandon this blog for months on end and just get on with it.

A friend of mine is a PhD student and has to run workshops as a part of this. Recently he sent me a list problems for discussion, addressing one in particular – problem five.

“A boyfriend can signal to a girlfriend that he loves her by giving an appropriate gift. Do you think saying ‘I love you’ can also serve as a signal?”

I instinctively recoiled at this question, reflecting on my own previous relationships. Before touching on that, I will of course acknowledge that sometimes the answer to that question is yes. In a healthy relationship, confirmation of love can serve as a huge signal. In some cases it takes a relationship to the next level, in others they are words of comfort. However, the context is key, and really words are no more than words.

Words are easy to say without any real meaning. I could tell you all I’m a vegan, and you may never know I had a bacon sandwich yesterday. Theresa May could tell you the government will be strong and stable, and look where that got us. The point is people lie. With something as abstract as love though, it is often impossible to tell other than through actions. Love isn’t concrete, you can’t google the answers or use mathematical equations. The unclear lines and intoxicating feelings make it easy for people to believe these words when the actions speak so loudly otherwise.

I have known people to say “I love you” a day before, or even during, a breakup. Generally this is “I love you but…”. Granted in some cases this is true, their feelings may be genuine but the relationship may be unhealthy. But equally the words could mean nothing to them, a way of avoiding the problems or softening the blow. At the same the love could be genuine, just not in the way the other person means it, they may deeply care about them just in a more platonic way.

In some cases, the words come with far more sinister context. Toxic and abusive relationships are excused through these words, dangerous situations get romanticised in the name of ‘love’ every day. Does it count as a ‘signal’ if the words are spat as you give up your phone, or cover up your bruises? Popular culture surrounds us with this idea that it is always better to be ‘loved’. It took all of thirty seconds to find a list of “104 Songs About Toxic Love Relationships”. Even if we are able to acknowledge the flaws individually, the saturation normalises this idea. We are forced not to crave love, but to crave the words, the validation. We are surrounded by lyrics like “a kiss with a fist is better then none”, breeding unhealthily low expectations for relationships. Do the words still count as a ‘signal’ if they come at this cost?

50 Shades of Grey is everywhere, from bookstores to Ann Summers. Aside from its horrendous representation of BDSM, and terrible writing… it features some of the most romanticised abuse in popular media. Women and girls of all ages ask when their Mr Grey will come, claiming love and giving a load of expensive gifts (also questions the initial part of the problem, can this count as a signal?). We need to stop seeing terrifying relationships like this as a goal. Even Romeo and Juliet needs to just stop being romanticised. It is not cute to be obsessed after a few days and then literally die. Shakespeare would be rolling in his grave.

The issue here is society’s perception and portrayal of love. There are forces making us see “I love you” or a gift as a signal, regardless of the crucial context. We need to change our expectations and stop allowing “I love you” to be an excuse, when it should be a signal of its meaning.

Actions speak louder than words. I am aware that sentence is horribly cliche, but like “I love you”, cliches can be appropriate in the right context.

I could have answered problem five with that one word: context.

New Horizons (literally)

I have once again been terrible at keeping up with this blog, as you would expect. This time I genuinely have been far too busy to be doing much writing though! As mentioned in previous posts, I have a new job which started a little while ago. Due to this, I moved to Greece over a month ago. It still seems very new and strange and I still have to keep reminding myself I won’t be going home until October.

The job itself has been pretty hectic. Not only am I doing sound, lighting, and screen content for the shows, but I am also involved in the day time activities. There is never a quiet moment around the hotel and we all have packed schedules. In the short time I have been here though, I can add more skills to my CV already; I can now manage the lighting, count to eleven in Swedish, and make a balloon dog. While lighting is the most relevant to my career, the balloon modelling is still probably my proudest achievement.

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It’s currently thirty-three degrees and I’m hiding out backstage under the air conditioning on my break. Tomorrow will be my time to appreciate the sun, as it is my day off. But for today I will let my burnt legs have a break and cool down a bit. I am considering walking up the mountain tomorrow, so the next post could either have beautiful pictures… or just not happen at all if I don’t make it back. It’s also not guaranteed that I’ll have the motivation to even start climbing up there in this heat so we will find out what happens…

My previous days off have mostly been spent at the beach, trying and failing to get a tan, and swimming in the sea. I did get a bus one day with a friend into another town for shopping and lunch, but I feel like I have settled enough now to go and explore. I had this image in my head before I left that I would spend every day off exploring somewhere new, but we’ve all been so tired we haven’t gotten round to it yet. The harbour in the town where we are is beautiful, and we are never short of options for places to eat or drink. One place in particular has become our go to with food because of how lovely the people working there are – one of whom has nominated herself as our mum for the season.

While I am loving my time here, it is still difficult being so far away from home. Even though I’ve moved away from the family home, I had gotten very used to being able to just go back for a weekend if my dad picked me up on his way home on a Friday.  Despite missing home, I definitely plan to make the most of the season. It also means I’ll appreciate my new flat when I move home even more (especially as I won’t be doing any of the difficult stuff as my better half moves in before I fly back).

Only a short one for today but hopefully I’ll get back to this more regularly in future… Still probably won’t happen.

Training and Updates

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic here.. With the internship coming to an end, it’s all hands on deck to get our projects completed, or to a workable standard. I expect I will not be done with this job once it finishes, and can’t wait to see how some of the research turns out. With less than three weeks to go, rather than tying all my lose ends, I have taken on a new and exciting project; I am writing a response paper with a colleague (also now a good friend). It feels somewhat empowering to be offered this opportunity, as I am being trusted with a project which I know my managers are very excited about. Working closely with such an enthusiastic team is really motivating, and I feel it will really bring out the best work we can produce.

I have recently missed a little over a week of work to attend a training week for my new job. I honestly didn’t know what to expect going in. I was nervous as anything about meeting that many new people – would people talk to me? What if I had a really awful team? All of these worries seemed almost laughable an hour after arrival. Some of the first people I met at the venue were my team for the summer, and they were some of the loveliest people I have ever met. I cannot wait to spend the summer with them in Samos, and having seen them perform, I know I have nothing to worry about.

After all the introductions and registration, performers went into a rehearsal and I was left with the fellow techies. Being able to talk about tech stuff without people’s eyes glazing over was a new and brilliant thing for me. It quickly became a comfortable group, each sharing where we were going and tips from those who had been out in previous seasons. One of the other techs was also a Solent graduate, so we talked a little about the changes to the staff and studios here. Spending a week seeing each other 14 hours a day, we got quite used to each other, and it did feel a little odd leaving. I shared a room with the only other female tech, so it was near enough 24/7. I also spent a lot of time with two techs who taught me black jack, and that I do actually like gin and tonic. Of course the learning was not all in relation to alcohol preference. Before this week, I had never done lighting before, and it will be one of my responsibilities on the job. Now, 29003902_10212886009678055_1020529812_nwhile a little nervous still, I feel I have enough knowledge to take on the challenge this summer. We also had a whole new software for the videos on screen and some sound – QLab – which two of us worked through dinner and through to gone eleven one night trying to master. As much as I needed coffee, I’m glad we did that session as I am now pretty confident with the software, and know how to deal with any problems that might come up when I am working. Our final night was a celebration of finishing training – Gala Night. It was brilliant to see everyone dressed up, and fun to switch off for the night (though we did still do one of the party dances twice in the night because after free prosecco and wine it seems like the best dance ever). The attached picture is of myself and my room mate, Ruth, proving we can do glitter as well as hoodies and wires. Despite the fact that we are all going to different resorts, we are staying in touch through a group for work issues, and a group chat for more social purposes. Meeting and learning with people with a range of experience has made me even more excited to start this job (though it is a little scary that I’ll be gone for over six months!).

Health wise, everything scary has been ruled out, so that’s another thing off the list. It seems most things are falling into place now. I even have a pile of fabric samples for bridesmaid dresses. Dare I say it almost looks like I’ve got my life together? I stress the looks like but I feel that is the case with everyone. The older I get, the more I realise that being an adult does not always mean having everything perfectly laid out. My mum recently reminded me that most people are actually still trying to work out “how to adult”, so I feel more okay with the fact that there will always be bumps. Everything is a learning curve. My learning curve for today is that writing a blog post while eating porridge can lead to breakfast on your blazer. And on that note, I am going to sign off. Until next time.

Names, News, and Naps

Once again I have been slacking in the blog posts, but I have been very busy so I feel I have adequate reason. The second part of this title is rather self explanatory and will continue throughout the post as an update, I just liked the alliteration.

As you may have noticed, I have changed the name of this blog. I have decided to continue blogging once I have left this job as I have found it somewhat therapeutic, and it lets me reflect on what I’m doing with my life. I’ve also enjoyed getting back into writing as I haven’t done so for some time, aside from essays. The name doesrogerplaydrums may just be a placeholder for now, and could change in the future, but for now it will remain an amusing inside joke for about three people.

In the last couple of weeks, we have been continuing with the curriculum framework project. We have each been doing write-ups on the curriculum cafes, comparing all of the ethnographic notes taken at each session. We have also been analysing the Kiviat charts from these sessions (as my colleague Beth has pointed out, we all now know this is very different to Kiviak – google at your own risk).

I am working on my presentation, having recently received my acceptance email from BCUR. While my dissertation is a topic I know inside and out, I am still nervous about the idea of presenting to that many people. I need to work on getting good at it without panicking in time for the conference…

Outside of work, I attended a hospital appointment last week to have an EEG. For those who don’t know, this is essentially having your head covered in bright blue gel and glue, and having about twenty wires attached. I was a little uneasy going in, but I was just told to lie down with my eyes closed for twenty minutes (hence the nap in the title). This was followed by a very bright light flashing in my face, which was far less relaxing.

I also attended an interview last week, in London. It was good to be back in London, even with a three hour coach journey each way. I had a three hour break between my interview and practical assessment, which I thought would be the perfect chance to up my caffeine intake. However, it would seem that every coffee shop near Parson’s Green is very pretentious and expensive. It’s impossible to get just a coffee, it’s got to be yak’s milk refined in a barrel for sixty years, infused with beans that have been ingested by monkeys. I went to the library instead.

The good news is that I actually got the job! I honestly can’t say I was expecting that outcome, but I was evidently over worrying as I’m told I always do. I am officially going to be a paid sound and lighting engineer. I have only ever done this freelance, or at a venue where we didn’t make enough to pay ourselves. I’ve also never actually done any lighting engineering before so I have a couple of months to learn a totally new skill. The job is only on a seasonal contract (5-6 months), but includes accommodation, food, and travel. So it won’t be long until I’m packing up and moving to Greece for the summer!

I think that’s all until next time..

Disrupticon

On Friday 19th, I attended a conference in Coventry entitled Rethinking Research: Disrupting and Challenging Research Practices. The event was described by organiser Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse as an ‘unconference’, aiming to “radically rethink the role of research within Higher Education”.

I was unsure of what to expect as I got on the train to travel up to Coventry, admittedly at the time I was more focused on the fact that I had woken up at 5am to attend. Once we arrived, it was clear that this was much less structured than a traditional conference. Before any introductions began, we were left to create our own name tags with crayons and felt tips; already people were being creative with their approaches as one woman chose to stick some of the slime (which was given as a potential resource) to her name tag.

With coffee, biscuits, and fruit in hand, introductions to the day began. Dr Kieran Fenby-Hulse introduced himself and colleagues, welcoming us to the event. It was made very clear that this did not aim to be a traditional conference, and we had a lot of freedom to decide which workshops we wanted to be in, and to change our minds. Fenby-Hulse then burst into what I can only describe as a lip-sync battle esque performance, further making us realise just how unconventional this event would be. (more…)

New Year, New Blog Post

Once again, it has been quite a while since I posted anything on here. I have come back from Christmas determined to be a more active blogger, though I can make no promises. The Christmas break has brought some highs and lows. The loss of an old friend over Christmas made some of it quite a difficult time. However, for today I feel should focus on the highs. The most significant moment of the break was definitely getting engaged, and the champagne that came with it.. Seeing my cats and dog again nearly beats it though.

Now that it is January, I am really beginning to think about what I am going to do after my internship. This is proving to be rather difficult as I am not entirely certain what direction I am going to go in. Of course I would love to be working in music as this is what I have studied for and am most passionate about, but this is quite a difficult industry to break into and make a living out of. I am, however, applying to work abroad for six months as a live sound engineer at a hotel so this may give me the experience I need to start such a career.

Following advice from a work friend, I am going to start putting my own website together. Paul suggested this would be beneficial in showing initiative, being active in the field you wish to work in, and standing out from other applicants. The use of a website is also particularly appropriate for working in a creative industry. Using my website I will be able to showcase past clients and work to demonstrate my abilities within producing, engineering, and event management. Additionally, I will run a blog on this website – staying active in the music industry. Through this blog I will be able to discuss more technical matters, such as microphone choices and acoustics, as well as more creative aspects such as album reviews.

While my health issues have not been resolved, I have somewhat adapted to the situation. I have learnt that I get a warning before fainting, and that I will recover within ten minutes normally, so I am able to get on with my day with minimum disruption. Though this situation is less than ideal, I have realised there is little sense in my life revolving around it. Since taking this attitude, I have felt better in myself and therefore more motivated at work and for my future goals.

I realise I have been somewhat slacking with these blog posts, but I feel I have reasonably valid excuses. Being away from work in hospital (or just unconscious depending on how I feel on the day) has made me less productive. However, I am now back. Still not totally right but I can stay standing for more than five minutes and almost have full use of my hand back. So now I can actually get on and do things.

Last week was considerably more successful than it’s predecessor; I only missed one full day, attended a very interesting mental health talk, and added a photo of my kittens to my desk. Being away from the family home obviously makes me miss my parents, but at the moment I am particularly mopey about not seeing the kittens – Mimi and Ziggy, or my dog – Hazel.

 

I’m now awaiting my Ironman-esque heart monitor, then hopefully I’ll be fixed, who knows? For now I am ignoring the matter at getting on with life. I am part of the team promoting BCUR to students. I think this is really important to get out there, if I had known about it last year I definitely would have applied. Essentially BCUR (British Conference of Undergraduate Research) gives students a chance to present their research to other people and develop themselves through this. Presenting research can not only improve communication and confidence, but the research itself. My tutor in sixth form taught me that teaching is the best way of learning because you really have to understand what you’re talking about. It’s the only way I passed A-Level maths.

Aside from the BCUR work, I am also on a number of slots for the Curriculum Framework Wall. Some of these sessions have been a little slow due to people not wanting to give us feedback, but we have come up with a number of strategies to get more responses so this should improve in the coming week. As well as giving sweets and approaching people in the Spark, we have discussed promoting other methods of getting responses such as the online form.

I am still doing independent research into learning spaces, and have started writing some possible connections to the project, but my focus will be shifted slightly this week. Next week I am presenting my dissertation to my fellow interns, so this has changed some priorities. I’m a little nervous about presenting as everyone else appears to have far more intellectual subjects than I. However, it is about music which I love so it will be nice to revisit some of this work.

That’s pretty much it for today, got to get on with some work. Hopefully more next week.