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Life

From Vadsø to Kautokeino

This evening I distracted myself with a flight in the simulator – accompanied by my middle daughter – along with a group of similar escapists. We flew from Vadso, northern Norway, along the coast, and then on to Kautokeino – a remote airstrip in the middle of nowhere. The photo accompanying this post was taken during the second-to-last leg, after departing Hasvik. My word, the northern stretches of Norway are desolate.

Read more at jonbeckett.substack.com.

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Life

Hitting the Ground Running

It would appear the world has woken up – and then some. After being partly furloughed for several weeks, and taking holidays while it has been quiet, I logged back in this morning to a succession of back-to-back meetings. I can’t decide if I’m relieved, excited, reassured, nervous, or filled with dread.

Read more at jonbeckett.substack.com.

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Life

Tea, Leftovers, and Future Plans

It’s my last day off work today – the end of an attempt to use up a few days holiday while the kids were on half-term. The weather has been despicable throughout, so we’ve gone nowhere and done nothing for the last week. My other half works in a school so she was home too – she almost became nocturnal. We wondered if it was her body’s way of resetting after a pretty stressful term through the second lockdown.

I just ate leftovers for lunch – we had sausage casserole for dinner last night. Best leftovers lunch ever. There is still a huge tub of leftover vegetarian bolognese in the fridge – that might make it as far as tomorrow lunchtime, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

In other news, an email arrived this morning from WordPress – informing me that my account is up for renewal towards the end of March. I’m pretty certain that I’m not going to renew it. I’m not going to stop writing – I’ll still post to substack – I just won’t be cross-posting to WordPress and Tumblr any more. I guess in some ways it’s a reaction to WordPress’ gradual change of course, but also that we are actively avoiding spending money, and that I need to stop distracting myself quite so much. Having a finger in every pie is fun, but you end up getting nothing done.

I killed my homepage on the internet last night, and redirected the domain to Medium. Again – simplifying, reducing, and hopefully helping me focus on one or two things instead of five or six. You never know – I might even start writing the novel I’ve been promising myself for the last decade.

I’ve had a few ideas for young adult novels up my sleeve for years. It’s about time I started doing something about them.

This post first appeared at jonbeckett.substack.com, where you can read and subscribe to more of Jonathan’s idiocy.

Categories
Life

Tea, Leftovers, and Future Plans

It’s my last day off work today – the end of an attempt to use up a few days holiday while the kids were on half-term. The weather has been despicable throughout, so we’ve gone nowhere and done nothing for the last week. My other half works in a school so she was home too – she almost became nocturnal. We wondered if it was her body’s way of resetting after a pretty stressful term through the second lockdown.

I just ate leftovers for lunch – we had sausage casserole for dinner last night. Best leftovers lunch ever. There is still a huge tub of leftover vegetarian bolognese in the fridge – that might make it as far as tomorrow lunchtime, but I wouldn’t put money on it.

In other news, an email arrived this morning from WordPress – informing me that my account is up for renewal towards the end of March. I’m pretty certain that I’m not going to renew it. I’m not going to stop writing – I’ll still post to substack – I just won’t be cross-posting to WordPress and Tumblr any more. I guess in some ways it’s a reaction to WordPress’ gradual change of course, but also that we are actively avoiding spending money, and that I need to stop distracting myself quite so much. Having a finger in every pie is fun, but you end up getting nothing done.

I killed my homepage on the internet last night, and redirected the domain to Medium. Again – simplifying, reducing, and hopefully helping me focus on one or two things instead of five or six. You never know – I might even start writing the novel I’ve been promising myself for the last decade.

I’ve had a few ideas for young adult novels up my sleeve for years. It’s about time I started doing something about them.

Categories
Life

Turning into a Cat

I think I’m turning into a cat. You know how cats have favourite places to curl up or “be” that last for a few days at a time, before they move on to somewhere else? I’m like that with writing. For a while I was writing at Evernote, then a text editor for a little while, then Notion, and now I’m back at Google Docs, where I’ve been writing on-and-off for years.

Google Docs is the easy option for me. It satisfies the paranoid part of my brain that says “what if the computer goes bang in the middle of your Pulitzer prize winning blog post?” – because it saves every word as I write it. Of course this is predicated on the idea that what I’m writing has literary value (I’m humble enough to realise that I’m only a legend in my own lunchtime).

It’s Sunday morning. The clock is just ticking past 10am. I’ve been up for the last hour – emptying the dishwasher, clearing the kitchen up – the usual chores around the house. I didn’t have a shower this morning, and now feel grubby. I usually have a shower every morning – it helps wake me up. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything today, so thought “what’s the point?” – it’s not like I smell or anything. I will admit to washing my face with soap and cold water after brushing my teeth though – to try and wake myself up. It sort of worked.

I need to head out to the corner shop soon – we’ve run out of bread. It’s kind of difficult to make toast without bread – almost as bad as the time our middle daughter made a cup of tea for her Mum after we ran out of teabags. She didn’t let the lack of tea stop her – proudly delivering a cup of hot watery milk. She was only about seven years old at the time.

Anyway.

Time to go find my shoes and socks. At least it’s not raining today (yet).

Categories
Life

An Internet Fishing Expedition

After talking to a few friends who also post to WordPress, and who have also seen an increase in follows, likes, and subscriptions from business accounts who never interact again, I thought I might lace a post with suitable terms to see what happens. Take no notice of the next paragraph.

Wellness. Weight loss. Fitness. Running. Diet. Fibre. Anxiety. Health. Lockdown. Project Management. Productivity. Work. Stress. Time. Sales. Marketing. Human Resources. People. Life. Products. Truth. Honesty. Journal. Diary. Books. Reading. Stories. Music. Facebook. Twitter. Social.

Let’s see what happens. Let’s see who follows, or likes the post. I’ll add to the end of the post after dangling it in the internet ocean for a few days.

Categories
Life

Midnight

I started writing this at one minute past midnight on Friday night. I suppose it’s really Saturday, but I tend to count it as the day before until I wake up the next day.

I spent much of the evening reinstalling my middle daughter’s computer (the somewhat famous computer labelled “Trigger’s Broom”). It now has an SSD sitting quietly inside it. I had hoped to upgrade the memory too, but I need to do some research first.

It’s been a very, very quiet week here – helped by endless quantities of rain falling from the sky, and a somewhat enormous lack of enthusiasm throughout the house.

I’m still receiving endless follows on WordPress from business accounts. It kind of makes sense – WordPress has been heading towards the website hosting game for a very long time. Their page design tools lean heavily towards small businesses, and increasingly away from writers. I wonder if the Tumblr acquisition wasn’t quite so mad after all – if Automattic knew their plans for WordPress (obviously they did), they would have also known an exodus would happen when those writing journals or diaries became disenfranchised. Tumblr gives an obvious route away from the shop front.

I miss the way the web used to be – the way blogs were when they first appeared. All you needed was a small corner of your own, and support for RSS to help others follow a diverse spectrum of writers. Over time the various solutions turned into platforms, and then into silos. Slowly but surely they either pivoted towards the business world (WordPress), stagnated (Blogger), or died (LiveJournal). Granted, LiveJournal still exists, but it’s an empty shell of the mighty mindshare juggernaut it once was.

I know a lot of people hate email based journals, but I kind of love them. I wonder if the haters live quite happily within silos, and have learned to take advantage of their captive audience. It reminds me of Plato’s allegory of “The Cave”. Those that have only ever known the world of publishing platforms cannot easily appreciate the vast world that lives beyond their borders – that they might embrace it – that they might find kindred spirits out there. It’s hard work though – hiking through the paths less trodden. Existing within a platform is easy, safe, and comfortable.

Anyway.

I’m starting to sound judgemental. I don’t mean to be. I’m just emptying my head. Take no notice.

p.s. don’t even get me started about the race condition in the WordPress blog editor that has existed for at least two years now – where publishing fails, and can only be fixed by refreshing the page – losing your tags and photo selection in the process.

Categories
Life

Unused Holiday, Rain, and Fake Followers

It’s been a strange sort of day – and it isn’t over yet.

After a very strange dream that I can’t remember a lot about any more I slid out of bed at about 8am, had a shower, shave, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and wandered into the junk room to begin work. On Tuesday mornings we have an “all hands that can make it” video call – just to say hi to each other – to combat sitting alone at home for hours on end.

I made a comment about perhaps taking a few days off this week (it’s half term), and spending time with my daughters. Within a couple of hours of the call a holiday request had gone in – and by this afternoon had been approved. It kind of makes sense – there are projects afoot at work, and when they begin the chance for time off will vanish – much as it did for the last year, leading to the mountain of untaken holiday still sitting there.

It’s still raining. By my reckoning, apart from a brief bit of sunshine on Saturday morning, it’s rained pretty consistently for the last twenty years. I should really see about building a boat out of what’s left of the shed. I checked the weather forecast earlier – there’s a 60% chance of rain all-day every-day throughout the week.

It’s “pancake day” in the UK today. I’m not sure if the kids have found out yet. If they do, one or other of us will find themselves standing in the kitchen for an hour later, pouring batter into a frying pan, trying to look like we know what we’re doing.

I wonder who invented pancake day? I wonder if it has something to do with an overrun of milk somewhere, and a crafty scheme to get lots of people to use theirs up ?

In other news, a lot of people have started following my blog at WordPress just recently – 99% of them marketers and business owners. They follow, never read, and never comment. I wonder what they think they achieve when they follow blogs? According to the stats, across Tumblr and WordPress I have several thousand followers. In reality, I have about twenty regular readers, and of those, only two or three interact in any meaningful way.

It’s lies, damn lies, and statistics.

I read a post by somebody I know fairly well on Tumblr recently about being dropped and blocked by friends online. I used to really take it to heart when people either unfollowed or blocked me, but have slowly hardened up over the years. I suppose I came to realise that somebody falling off the radar is rarely about those they follow. I miss a lot of people who don’t post any more – more than they know. I sometimes wonder about reaching out, but then talk myself out of doing so just as quickly.

Anyway.

I think I might need to go and find the packet of cheap chocolate biscuits, and put the kettle on. For reasons.

Categories
Life

A Chromebook by Any Other Name

Late last night I discovered a company called “Neverware” created the software to install on a USB stick that allows a computer to boot from the stick and turns it into a Chromebook. The software is called “CloudReady”, and the home edition is free. What’s more, if you like what it does, with a single click you can wipe the computer and install the Chrome operating system onto it’s internal storage – turning it completely into a Chromebook. Neverware did their job so well, Google acquired them.

I almost did a happy dance.

Needless to day, I now have a recycled Chromebook of sorts – built from an old laptop that has been sitting in the bottom of a bag for months. Granted, it’s not quite as good as a shiny-new-chromebook (new Chromebooks can run Android apps), but it’s pretty close.

In other news, I went for a mental health walk at lunchtime with my eldest daughter – a promised wander to the park to get some fresh air. We fed the swans, avoided the legion of parents with small children that have never heard of social distancing, and found a park bench to sit at for a little while – watching the world go by. Afterwards we bought soup and nice bread for everybody (it’s half term), and carried it home.

I have no idea what I’m going to spend the rest of the day doing. A part of me says I should use today as a writing day (I have Mondays off work at the moment) – but another part says I should kick back and have fun. Hang on – shouldn’t writing be fun?

Perhaps I’ll put some music on. Where’s that Sara Bareilles playlist?