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Life

Bank Holiday Monday

It’s heading towards 10am, and I’m still the only person up and about at home. It’s a bank holiday in the UK today – many people have the day off work. Of course the weather isn’t cooperating – while the sun is trying to break through at the moment, it’s forecast to begin raining at lunchtime, and get worse throughout the day. I imagine our house will begin floating away by dinner time. I better start fashioning some oars out of household implements later.

I’m struggling to wake up. I’m not sure why, because I slept like a log last night – and half remember a couple of crazy dreams. One of them involved accidentally transferring thousands into one of my daughter’s bank accounts, and then struggling to transfer the money back again before anybody found out. I wonder what that means?

It’s interesting how the most illogical events or actions become reasonable in dreams.

(many hours pass)

The better part of the day was spent pulling ivy from the shed in the garden, helping my middle daughter create a podcast (for her college course), and doing several runs to the rubbish tip. This morning’s weather forecast was wrong – the rain finally began to fall early this evening. It’s still raining now, and looking pretty much like the world might end.

After washing up this evening I checked my phone, and saw messages from several friends, sent hours earlier. Hopefully they will understand that life occasionally tramples all over me. It seems that “having friends”, “working”, “doing chores”, and “being a part of a family” never quite add up – and “having friends” always seems to be the first thing to fall by the wayside.

I saw a quote the other day from somebody famous (I forget who), noting that if you got run over by a truck tomorrow, your employer would replace you within a month or two – but that your friends and family would always remember you. I read it, and thought “yes, but if you don’t work, you have no money, your family lose their house, and you have no smartphone to stay in touch with friends”.

Nothing is ever as simple as a motivational quote.

Anyway. I only have a few hours until the “day off” comes to an end. I should probably go watch something rubbish on the television, and eat something I’ll feel bad about afterwards. It’s funny how that works.

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Life

A Day of Two Halves

The first half of the day was spent chaperoning my youngest daughter to a nearby town in pursuit of a meetup with several of her friends. This included waiting at the bus station for an hour while her friends first called to say they were on their way (a lie), and then called to say they would meet her at the railway station.

The original plan had been to meet mid-morning. The revised plan had already skidded to nearly lunchtime. Obviously making it to a bus stop by lunchtime was beyond their capabilities, so they lied, and lied and lied.

Eventually one of their parents dropped them a mile across town. If I hadn’t been there, I have no idea how my daughter might have found her way to them – short of walking the entire route while talking to me on her phone, guiding her at each road junction.

Yes, I’m annoyed.

You can imagine how amused I was (not)  when a story came out about having to go shopping across town because a friend of a friend couldn’t go into the nearest supermarket, because she had been prosecuted for shoplifting there.

Thankfully the central person in this mess isn’t carrying on to college next year – so a natural division will drive them apart. In the meantime we just need to keep our fingers crossed our daughter retains her sense of right and wrong, and doesn’t get coerced into anything untoward.

This afternoon was all about making runs to the dump with rubbish from the garden. While there we bumped into a co-worker, and on the way home posted a photo on social media of our “hot date”.

We know how to live.

While my other half retrieved our daughter late this evening, I walked into town and filled a bag with movie snacks. I imagine most of it will vanish tomorrow. Of course there are no new movies “of note” out, because most of the studios have ground to a halt during the pandemic. I would love to watch “Nomadland”, but it sounds like Disney+ has an exclusive on it in the UK – and I’m not about to sign up to yet another subscription service.

Categories
Life

Bullet Journals and Video Games

For the last three years I have used a bullet journal to both plan, and record each day. It has sat on the corner of my desk, and served as a duplicate of sorts to my work calendar, my home calendar, and the various productivity apps I have tinkered with along the way.

Name a well known app, and I’ve probably used it. Microsoft To Do, Google Tasks, Evernote, Notion, Todoist, Basecamp, Trello, Outlook, Keep… the list goes on.

Years ago I read a book called “Getting Things Done” that very successfully sold an enormous lie to pretty much everybody that read it. Off the back of it I became invested for a time in a website called “Remember the Milk”, and an app on my phone called “Things”.

It’s a slippery slope.

The bullet journal has served as an antidote of sorts to the chaotic, fast moving world of technology that surrounds me (I’m a software developer). It’s not perfect though – it doesn’t nag me when something hasn’t been done, and it’s not searchable either. I’ve lost count of the times I have paged back through it over several months, looking for a note. My brain works in mysterious ways – I often know I wrote something down, but don’t remember exactly what I wrote.

I’m going to try not using the bullet journal for a while. My work life lives in the Microsoft universe – Outlook, To Do, Teams and Sharepoint – and my home life in the constellation of Google services – Calendar, Keep, Tasks, and GDrive. I’m going to give their various apps and websites a shot. My life will live in my pocket – in the little black phone that I carry everywhere.

The one extra I am adding to the mix is “Notion”. If you’ve not seen it, and you have a penchant for being organised, I would stay the hell away from it. It’s a black hole of possibilities and opportunities to waste time organising, recording, and sorting anything and everything. It’s actually pretty brilliant. You have been warned.

Anyway. Enough of this idiocy.

I’m planning to visit town with two of my daughters tomorrow morning – while one of them meets up with friends to head away for the weekend, I’m going to do a raid on the second-hand video game store. It turns out if you time it right, you can bulk buy games that used to sell for £50 for £1 each. In another year those same games will begin climbing in value as they become collectors items.

Thankfully my kids aren’t huge video game players – so they don’t really mind which generation of hardware we have. For months we had a Raspberry Pi plugged into the television, allowing them to play any number of retro arcade machines. It’s always fun when grown-up friends visit, and notice a copy of Pacman, Space Invaders or Galaxians running on the TV – with sounds they have not heard since standing at the side of cabinets in amusement arcades thirty or more years before.

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Life

Remembering the Rubbish

Tomorrow doesn’t start until I wake up in the morning. The clock might have ticked past midnight a few minutes ago, but I’m going to claim it’s still “tonight” – “tomorrow morning” doesn’t arrive for several hours.

Welcome to my ever-so-slightly illogical mind.

I’m playing the age old game of “staying up late to avoid tomorrow”, which is ridiculous because there’s nothing I’m particularly avoiding. Perhaps I’m just holding on to today – making the day last longer – enjoying the last few minutes in front of the keyboard emptying my head.

I’m trying to warm back up after venturing outside in the dark to put the bins out – the refuse collectors pass our house in the morning. Have you ever tried to drag a wheelie bin down your driveway in the dead of night? They transform themselves into mobile speaker stacks – amplifying every bump in the driveway into a cacophony of crashing and crunching.

I sometimes wonder if I’m the only person that puts the rubbish out at midnight (or rather, that only remembers at midnight). I’ve never seen anybody else tiptoeing around while dragging the bin down the driveway. Perhaps the rest of the world is far more organised? I don’t know.

Anyway.

It’s getting late. I should probably go brush my teeth.

Categories
Life

Rediscovering the Tribe

The last few days have served as a reminder of how wonderful the blogging tribe has become. I’m not talking about the niche food, fashion, or lifestyle bloggers – they can go fall off their marketing tricycle and graze their knees – I’m talking about those of us that have been committing our daily stories to the keyboard for the last twenty years.

The term “blogger” means many things to many people. By turns we can be autobiographers, citizen journalists, soap-box campaigners, armchair psychologists, social commentators, and even historians. The best of us don’t push a brand, a product, or a way to live a life – we tell our own story.

I have a quote by Norah Ephron printed on a piece of paper above my desk:

One of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale. What you hope is that whatever you’re saying is true for about as long as you’re saying it. Even if it’s not much.

She had such a way with words.

I sometimes notice others striving to emulate the style of their literary heroes – I’ve never done that. I tend to think we should find our own way – find our own voice. While it’s true that reading influences the style and selection of words we write, I have always admired those that say more with less.

I’ve distracted myself from the original intent of this post. It’s a skill. I’m good at it. It ranks right up there with walking into the kitchen to make a coffee, and clearing the sink, emptying the dishwasher, and taking the recycling out before switching the kettle on.

The tribe. Us. The writers.

We may be quiet, and we may be passed over by many, but we are here, we are numerous, and we persist. We will continue to wield our words against the world that shapes us, and we will continue to find each other at the most unlikely times, and in the most unexpected places.

We are bloggers.

Categories
Life

Introducing an Old Friend

Over the last few days I have been arm twisting a wonderful blogging friend that has remained largely undiscovered in the wilds of LiveJournal.

While Tumblr and WordPress marched across the blogging landscape, crushing all in their wake, she quietly persisted – recording her thoughts about life, the universe, and everything into a quiet corner of the internet, far away from the madding crowd.

We have imported her legacy into WordPress, and placed it safely under lock and key – over a decade of fond memories for her to take out now and again, to admire, and to perhaps recount with the world from time to time.

Her name is Katy, and she has a steep path ahead – learning not only about WordPress, but about profiles, pages, tags, featured images, following, followers, likes, subscriptions, and so on.

I have of course painted a wonderful picture of the quiet army of bloggers she will fall into the middle of, so it’s really on me now to convince her that you are actually out there – that you exist.

It’s funny – those of us that empty our head in the form of online journals began this damn fool crusade perhaps twenty years ago, and while it sometimes feels like we are relatively few, I suspect the truth may be we never really went away – the crowd around us just got bigger, and more distracting.

Anyway.

Please take a moment to read Katy’s first post at WordPress, and wish her well.

Categories
Life

A Weekend in the Garden

Another weekend is slowly winding down. A weekend filled with gardening, and trips to and from the local rubbish tip. Over the last year, the rubbish tip has been the only place my other half and I have gone together – we have joked about it being a “date” of sorts.

After a sustained assault on the garden throughout the weekend, it has slowly turned into a nice place to be once more. If the weather warms up just a little more we will begin planting vegetables in the kitchen garden. Last year we grew beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, courgettes, melons, marrows, carrots, and attempted potatoes in some deep grow-bags. I’m pretty sure this year will be more of the same. I’m tempted to plant some rhubarb – I love rhubarb crumble.

I took some cuttings from the school spider-plant that has lived in the kitchen window for the last year, and potted them in up-cycled coffee tins in the window of the study. They are the first plants ever to make their way into the study – now I just need to remember to water them each day.

In other news I’m drawing battle lines with the grey squirrels our cats are too fat/slow/stupid (delete as appropriate) to combat. We just lost yet another bird feeder this evening after one of the squirrels acrobatically leapt onto it and smashed it on the floor. I’m not sure how many peanuts he managed to stuff in his face before I arrived and chased him the length of the garden. After picking up the pieces of the feeder I discovered one of our cats pretending to be asleep in the kitchen. I imagine the other cat is busy picking bits out of his feet on some fresh bedding somewhere.

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Life

Grease is the Word

It’s heading towards 8pm in the evening, I’m sitting alone in the junk room listening to the Grease soundtrack on Spotify while the light slowly dies outside, and I’m wondering where the day went.

Frankie Valli is singing the title track. I think it might be my favourite on the entire album. When I was young we borrowed the video tape of Grease from my aunt – who was either in her late teens, or early twenties when the movie came out. We watched it for an entire summer, and knew the words to all of the songs – often singing them with other kids in the neighbourhood in the evenings. Such innocent times – we had no idea what Kenickie and Rizzo got up to in the back of his car.

My other half has gone to fetch our youngest daughter from a meetup with several of her friends. I think she felt guilty about turning us into a taxi service to deliver and fetch her, so bought her mum a jigsaw and some liquorice to say thankyou. Perhaps I should correct that – the “bank of Dad” bought the jigsaw.

The rest of the day has been spent in the garden – slowly removing junk and doing runs to the rubbish tip. Of course the junk has mysteriously been exchanged with new plants following a somewhat secretive trip to the garden centre – I’m guessing that’s the universe’s “conservation of mass” law kicking in.

Tomorrow morning is rugby practice for my younger daughters. A surprise present arrived for them this morning – an “Ultimate” frisbee. The coaches have been looking for interesting “socially distanced” alternatives to shake-up the training sessions. Frisbee is a natural fit, and “Ultimate” frisbees are built like a tank (so should survive 20 teenage girl rugby players flinging it at each other). Who knows – perhaps the rugby club might even look at fielding a frisbee team in the off-season if it catches on.

Beauty School Drop Out just started playing. I’m sorry – I can’t type any more – all I can think of is the rest of the female cast of Grease hidden in plain sight in the scene with the pyramid of girls in silver curlers. It took me years to realise they were all in that scene.

Dammit – I’m going to have to go watch the movie now, aren’t I.

Categories
Life

St George and the Dragon

Today is “St George’s Day” in the UK. It’s not a national holiday, and is only marked in-so-much that most calendars have it marked in small-print. Quite how the entire country has entwined the story into the national identity and flag is something of a mystery.

While at infant school I remember doing a project on it – which probably had more to do with it being an “easy win” for the teachers. Kids love dragons, and the clue is in the title of the myth – “St George and the Dragon”.

Needless to say, there are thousands of public houses up and down the British isles called “The George and Dragon”.

Isn’t it amazing how an entirely mythical event – no more true than King Arthur, Camelot, Merlin, or any of that codswallop – is still marked, nearly two thousand years after it’s supposed to have happened?

Wikipedia tells us the following about the highly doubtful events that happened at some point prior to the year 303:

The legend of Saint George and the Dragon tells of Saint George (died 303) taming and slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices.The story goes that the dragon originally exhorted tribute from the villagers. When they ran out of livestock and trinkets for the dragon, they started giving up a human tribute once a year. This was acceptable to the villagers until a well-loved princess was chosen as the next offering. The saint thereupon rescues the princess chosen as the next offering. The narrative was first set in Cappadocia in the earliest sources of the 11th and 12th centuries, but transferred to Libya in the 13th-century “Golden Legend”.

Utter, utter, utter bollocks.

So we have a dragon that not only eats people, but also exhorts things from people. No doubt the dragon does this by sitting down and having a frank discussion with them? Or maybe it writes increasingly irate letters before turning up, knife and fork in hand ?

I imagine my school-project drawing of St George killing the dragon probably involved quite a lot of red crayon, and screaming from a lady tied to a tree. Knowing my early artistic endeavours, there were probably X-Wing fighters in the sky overhead too.