Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog
GeneralTuesday, February 22nd, 2022, (2:22 pm)

Today is one of those special dates. It’s 22/2/22 (or 2/22/22 if you’re American) and I feel like I should mark that somehow with a post, so I decided to share some pictures of where I am right now.

Winter in Colorado

Winter in Colorado

Winter in Colorado

Winter in Colorado

Winter in Colorado

Winter in Colorado

Ordinarily, I’d be enjoying the Australian summer right about now, but thanks to COVID that wasn’t possible. So I’m currently in Colorado enjoying the snow. I’m usually what the Americans call a ‘snowbird,’ meaning that I tend to chase the sun. But COVID made being a snowbird very difficult and expensive, so the winter of 2020/21 that I spent in France was the first full winter I experienced in over a decade.

The wet weather and biting winds of that winter reminded me of everything I hate about winter. Being cold, being wet, and generally being fed up under a blanket of grey and white clouds that hide the precious few hours where the sky might otherwise be blue.

I’ve been in California for the most part, where it was warm enough to go out without a coat, to wear a T-shirt even, and where my skin caught the sun and gave me something of a tan. While it wasn’t initially planned, this was an anniversary that market thirty years since I first came to live in the USA. So I met up with old friends from that time and reminisced about those days in ways that you do when you’re old enough to fondly remember thirty years ago.

We laughed at pictures of us posing in the Mojave Desert with guitars. We thought we were cool back then, and I guess we were in out own way. I had an accent and that, along with a tasseled suede jacket I picked up at a thrift store in Fresno, gave me some kudos.

Me back in 1992 in the Mojave Desert, California.

Anyway, I’m in Colorado now, where the crisp white snow looks pretty. It’s been warmer than you might imagine, and each time I’ve dressed for winter I’ve ended up being too hot. This is a famously sunny state, boasting an average of 360 days of sun, but not today. On this mathematically interesting date, the air is crisp and cold, making me thankful for the thermals I packed.

I could do winters if they were short and included sunny blue sky days. It’s been fun playing with snow here, but I still prefer the warmth of a summer day, the long hours of daylight, and the warm evenings. But for now, this snow is fun.

GeneralSaturday, January 1st, 2022, (11:15 pm)

Is it really 2022 already? Covid years are like dog years. Blink and they’re over. Washed away in slow-moving flood that feels less like a disaster movie now, and more like a scam, like a hotel that looks nothing like the pictures on the website. I want my money back. No, forget that – I want my time back!

A year

It occurred to be on Christmas Eve that a year earlier, as we collectively approached the end of the worst year ever, we felt like something was coming to an end, even though I think we all knew that it wasn’t really. It was cold and Christmas parties were so much a destination as a landmark, something to signal the fact that 2020 would be consigned to history in just a few days.

And then there was midnight on December 31st. Wherever you were in the world, you surely breathed a sigh of relief. 2020 was over and while 2021 probably wouldn’t be much better, at least it wouldn’t be 2020 and that counted for something.

But for me, 2021 was just, well, boring. Nothing happened. I didn’t travel anywhere aside from a seven-day vacation in Portugal which felt like seven days plucked from the pages of a travel brochure from back when travel agents had brochures from which people would select seven days somewhere sunny.

Make no mistake, I was grateful for that opportunity to escape the routine of routine, but it lacked the hectic nature of an open-ended adventure meeting locals on and heading off on the road with no real idea where I’d find myself tomorrow, or the next day.

In 2021 nothing was new. Each day felt more or less like the one before it, and I even started to recognize strangers. I purchased plants and cultivated them to the point where people complimented me, brought pasta bowls for their interesting shape, and even repainted the apartment. My routines are roots, and all the while I longed to rip them up from the ground, gifts the plants to friends, and leave those nice white pasta bowls for the allure of a dusty road and something new tomorrow.

It’s funny because I look back at 2020 now and find myself thinking that while it was an awful year, it was interesting in so much as we were all thrown into unfamiliar situations. Quarantines, Zoom parties, Tiger King (I only watched episode one because, seriously, why the fuck was that show a thing?), and clapping out of your window at 8 PM.

We were together alone, and while it was frightening and uncertain in many respects, it was also unifying and new in others. Pushing the bed up against the wall then laying out on a towel on the bedroom floor as the sun streamed through the full-length open windows warming my home-bound bones. It was a new way to sunbathe, but I made the most of it. I found a recording of a Gold Coast beach with the sounds of lapping waves and the gentle low beat of a distant radio. I closed my eyes and let myself travelled there, eventually moving across the room as the shadow chased me into a corner. That was fun, and I got a fairly decent tan too!

I went on solo bike rides to places I wouldn’t have thought to explore before. Found new favorite places, and even a couple of old chateaux where I could lay in the sun amid carefully cut grass and manicured hedges. I stretched the possibilities of restrictions and pushed the boundaries or boundaries.

And now here I am, looking back on 2020 with some kind of affection, like school days when all we wanted was to get out into the world and no longer be held back by education! It sucked, there’s no doubt about it, but at least there was novelty in that calamity. 2021, however, felt like a strangely uncanceled season of a daytime soap opera nobody watches anymore.

I’m bored of this. Bored of masks and variants, vaccines, and anti-vaxers. Bored of not being able to hug people, shake hands, or somewhere without having someone scan a code on my phone with an app that will almost certainly become problematic soon enough. I’m bored of hearing politicians talk about this crisis and the amount of money they’re willing to spend to defeat it while they do as little as possible to address the climate crisis which has been around longer and will be far worse in the long run. 2021 was worse than 2020 because it was an insufferable bore.


So I’m heading off to America in a few weeks, and while it won’t be a motorbike trip on an unfamiliar road, it will be a change of scenery at least. In fact, it’s a trip that retraces my first steps into international travel as I touch down in the USA, thirty years to the day I first stepped off the plane into the California sun.

I’m looking forward to seeing those familiar faces once more and taking the Amtrak to Colorado over the Rocky Mountains. Of course, we’re living in uncertain times, so I’m not entirely convinced something won’t happen to scupper those plans. We’ll see I guess. But for now, I’m happy to see the end of 2021, the most boring year of my life. 2022 started with a sunny day, so you know what, I’d call that a good start.

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 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.

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