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Furlough Diaries: Kathlene Belista

Now …. back to our “Furlough Diaries”, with a FIFTH entry (last week’s was Lauren) – this time from the multi-talented Kathlene. Like myself Kat was a software engineer pre-JGB, and was working in software development up until the end of 2019 when it finally seemed viable to have her join the business in a mainly IT/website/tech role to start tackling some of the endless list of website improvements I just don’t have the time to work on any more. Really we all have Kat to thank for the existence of JGB as without her support paying the rent, bills, groceries for most of the last 6 years the business couldn’t have grown through the difficult “small distro” growth curve*. Kat is effectively JGB’s biggest investor, her contribution having far outstripped the meagre savings I started the business with 6 years ago. So, come December this year we destabilised our income, moved out to woop-woop next to the warehouse (rent is cheap out here!), and very much fully-committed to JGB. But it looked like 2020 was going to be the year it all really started to function viably.

Then COVID-19 came a’knocking…

Anyway… onward with Kat’s furlough diary! With bonus comic at the end…

(*frankly there is no way for distro margins to viably support tiny-scale IMO, and I believe we still needed to be twice the scale we had reached to be fully secure for the future… so we’ve got by through a combination of me not being paid and keeping personal costs down, and time-investment high.)

So, here we are. It’s been a surreal year from the get-go and I have to hand it to fate that my timing in officially joining Team JGB comes off as a bad joke or a comedy series backstory. With as much irony you can throw at, I handed my notice a month before the first cases appeared to a global audience in Wuhan due to moving further from work. My old place of employment discouraged working remote under normal circumstances and it seemed a natural transition.

The original mini cards – Yvan’s old number is blanked out as it’s generally ignored. That email address is also not reliably used for correspondence these days as it’s been spammed with all sorts of cold-calls for years now.

And what is it I do? My primary role has been towards the development, upkeep and enhancement of the JGB website. With Yvan and I having software development backgrounds we knew what we wanted the website to do and settled with a very well known open-source package that we are both capable to maintain (mainly: swear profanities at how the code has progressed through many years and hands). Alongside this, I am responsible for the appearance of the website and the very logo we still use with a huge influence from the time Yvan had purchased the Jolly Yellow Van.

Some old concept sketches on reused paper. Yes, there’s coffee stains… Yes, that is a printer error message… Yes, there is code notes for some reason… Yes, I did consider integrating Colin into the logo…

I also help Hannah out with getting artwork uploaded to the website – so for brewers: please aid us in pimping your wares once we get back up and running: it pushes out your brand and it looks infinitely better when browsing our listings. I’ve knowingly knocked up some franken-artwork as placeholders but nothing beats the quality of official artwork.

FyneFest 2019 bucketlist item ticked: cooking rice while camping
Bento at IndyMan 2019

With all the uncertainty right now I’ve been trying to maintain a base level of normalcy by continuing my lunch routine. Perhaps people may have spotted me doing this even during some past beer festivals where we were able to stay at places with a kitchen – plain rice is one of the foods I crave amid days full of intense festival food. It was established as necessity years ago when I commuted to Cambridge with the choices of “cheap & cheerful” or “tasty but pricey” and with a non-rockstar-developer salary it was a no brainer to just bring food I’ve cooked myself. I sometimes think it’s kind of stupid to bother now I’m working from home, but I’m using it as a way to challenge myself in the hopes of improving my culinary skills. [Kat prepares a bento every week-day for lunch, posted on Instagram here: -Yvan]

Oh I guess there’s also this to post…

NOTE: the “Fur-Lowe” comic idea came up amongst random chatter idea in the JGB Slack channel where we’ve all been hanging out to keep in touch over the lock-down weeks. We don’t own any cats so I’ve been perusing the internet for it’s secondary function after porn: cat pics (for reference).


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