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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.

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

Hacking Anxiety and Loneliness

I’m not working today, so have spent much of the day juggling home school assistance with efforts to encourage my eldest daughter to step outside her self imposed seclusion. She arrived in the lounge late last night on something of a downer, so we spent an hour firing ideas at her like a machine gun.

Long story short – she has a blog again, and has been dipping a toe into online chat rooms (or rather, lurking in online chat rooms, petrified of taking herself off mute).

She’s currently sitting at her computer, trying to write a first blog post. It’s painful watching her – I had to walk away. It’s interesting how some people (read: me) can empty our head into the keyboard and magic a thousand words of nonsense almost at will – and some find the extraction of each and every word tortuous. Anxiety doesn’t help.

I think she’s planning on writing about her struggles with anxiety, lock down, and life in general. I helped get her setup with the blog, and write the about page – the first “real” post could take some time. If you have a minute today, go visit Daisiella, and click follow – getting some immediate feedback will hopefully help her see that there is a world out there, and get her over the start line.

Categories
Life

Falling off the Blogging Bike

It’s not so much a case of “falling off the blogging bike” any more – more a case of “has anybody seen the damn bike?”. Or maybe “can I even remember how to ride it?”. It’s not like I’m pushing away for any particular reason, or even that I’m “pushing away”. Life is just happening.

Was it John Lennon that said “life is what happens while you’re making other plans” ?

I’m a bit annoyed with myself, to be honest. I started to reach out to a few people online recently – following a few new voices. After an evening of “being brave”, I’ve hardly been back. I hope those I followed don’t think badly of me. Perhaps this afternoon I’ll carve out some time to go read and comment on their recent posts.

I’m sitting in the junk room, sipping coffee, and listening to Sara Bareilles. I should be working on some writing for the work website, but inspiration seems to have deserted me – hence writing this post instead.

Oh – random update – I hung a new door last week, armed only with a chisel, a screwdriver, a hammer, and a sanding machine. There’s a back-story here – once upon a time our eldest daughter had the room with the door that needed replacing. She once kicked it off it’s hinges in temper, and I patched it up. A few weeks ago one of our neighbours advertised a door to anybody that wanted it – of the same design as the broken bedroom door. My other half got the kids to go and fetch it, and it’s stood in our hallway until this week. Here’s the thing – door frames are very rarely square, and doors are often cut to fit the door frame they are in. I had to re-shape the frame, the door, re-position the (new) hinges, and re-position the locking plate in order to make it fit. I did mention all I had was a chisel and a sander, didn’t I?

I think we’re all beyond stir crazy now. We’ve been holed up in the house together since late autumn. Little annoyances have begun to pull at the loose ends of each other. The children often contribute nothing in terms of help around the house, and then expect everything in return. It’s not going to end well for them.

Categories
Life

Legacy

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’ve been struggling to post anything worthwhile to the blog for the last six months or so. You might think after nearly eighteen years writing online that I would have this whole thing figured out – that I might be able to turn the tap on, and words flow out.

I used to write so easily about anything and everything. Quite often I would write about nothing at all. I even wrote about writing about nothing at all.

The main thing that keeps me writing these days is the legacy of eighteen years worth of writing sliding down the hillside behind me. It would be a shame to stop now, with this huge unfinished story stretched out behind me. Sure, it might not be about much, but it’s mine. I did this. I wrote this.

None of this will make any sense of course – seventeen years worth of it are stored in a Google Drive folder – you can’t read the great majority of it. I sometimes delve into the past, and read a few old posts – smiling at how candid and open I used to be.

I sometimes wonder if that guy will show up again.

Categories
Life

Friday

For those that don’t know, I very rarely write blog posts straight into the WordPress editor interface – I used to write everything in a text editor, save it into a neat and tidy folder structure, and copy it into WordPress. In recent months (since lockdown, I suppose), I have written in Google Docs, copied the text across.

Why am I writing about it?

Because I’ve had this post sitting on the screen all day – with no more than the title at the top – “Friday”. I typically give all posts the same title when I start writing, and then re-name them when a title presents itself. Quite often the title only relates to the final paragraph.

I don’t really have anything to report. My toe is still broken, the cat still has half his hair shaved off after his most recent hospital adventure, and I find myself becoming increasingly distant from “social” media.

I’m not sure that I’ve given up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on – so much as re-framed what they’re useful for. Or at least, what I find them useful for. I used to see “the social internet” as a way to reach out to the wider world – a way to discover interesting people, make friends, and share a little of each other’s lives. Somewhere along the way that all became somewhat poisonous though – Twitter became a place to stand on soapboxes and shout louder than the next person, Facebook became a place to have bitter disagreements with acquaintances, and Instagram became a place to show off.

I will admit to thinking quite a bit about shutting my blog down, and just reverting to a personal journal. I’ve thought about it before – I’ve DONE it before – but it doesn’t seem to be so much about me changing any more – it’s more about the world changing around me – becoming a little less friendly, a little more abrasive, and a little less welcoming.

I get it. Blogging has ALWAYS been a bit of an odd pursuit – sharing the guts of your day with a nameless audience. It’s just always been something I’ve done though – for twenty years now. I qualify it by telling myself that it helps keep me sane – and yet I filter perhaps half of the words I might share – all the most interesting stuff. The anger, the frustration, the gossip, the scandal, the unpopular opinions – the good stuff.

In other news, I weighed myself this morning. I’ve lost about 18 pounds since lockdown began. It’s not something I’ve done intentionally – we just haven’t bought any junk food for some time. It was mostly about saving money. If I lose another few pounds, I’ll be the same weight I was twenty years ago. Go me (sarcasm intended). I keep telling myself that I feel better for it, but I could murder a chocolate bar.

Categories
Life

Uncomplicated

A fellow blogger commented about the uncomplicated nature of my life today, and I couldn’t help smiling. My life appears uncomplicated, because that’s how I write about it. I suppose compared to many, my life is uncomplicated though. I’m wondering what qualifies as complicated now though.

In the blog, I am me – that’s my real name in the browser address bar, and in the title at the top of the page. Sure, I’ve experimented with pen names and pseudonyms in the past, but I always end up returning to “me”. I’m not clever or skillful enough to write through somebody else’s eyes – or at least that’s what I like to tell myself while qualifying why I’ve still not knuckled down and started writing that novel.

There’s a lot about real life that I don’t share on the blog. Nothing about work. Nothing really about the kids lives any more – their lives became their own quite some time ago. I will admit to grimacing when I see other parents splash their children’s lives all over social media. Some seem to live through their children, and some seem to use their children as a platform. It’s all very strange.

So what does this place end up being? A journal. A simple, uncomplicated journal of the days of my life. I often worry that the little things don’t add up to very much, but continue writing anyway, because what else am I going to do? Perhaps choosing to be “just me” is partly driven by laziness. I don’t have to craft deep posts – I just record. I suppose the blog is uncomplicated in that regard.

Seventeen years. This is the seventeenth year that I’ve been emptying my head into the keyboard. There were a couple of years before that, and I recently discovered a little of them on a ZIP disk attached to the iMac. One day I’ll fish them from the abyss and wince at my long forgotten words.

Categories
Life

Saturday Morning

Yesterday evening I posted something vaguely political on Facebook, and almost immediately regretted it – not because of the subject matter of my post – because of the mob mentality of many of those that responded.

Why do so many people only see the world from their perspective? Why do so few people consider the bigger picture? It almost seemed that many had been bottling up personal frustrations about anything and everything, and had been looking for an opportunity to vent bile.

Although I managed to halt most of the idiocy, and open a few people’s eyes, I can safely say that I never want to become a politician. Imagine what it must be like – where you balance the advice of expert analysis to make life changing decisions, and no matter what you do, a proportion of those effected will suddenly become much more qualified than the career scientists, economists, biologists, or whoever else about whatever decision you have made.

Anyway.

It’s Saturday morning. I’m holed up in the study, tapping away on the keyboard of the twenty year old iMac, writing this into a text editor most people have not seen for a decade. After saving the words I will copy them over to a file share on the Raspberry Pi, and then check them into a Git repository on the internet. From there I will be able to grab them on the PC across the room, and pollute the world wide web with them.

It sounds insane, but it stops me from becoming distracted mid-sentence, opening a browser tab, and jumping down some rabbit hole or other. I know I’m my own worst enemy.

Yesterday I got out of the house for a few hours with our youngest daughter, and went for a walk in the sunshine (read: baking furnace in the sky). We walked over a nearby hill that looks out over town, and then out along the river and back – about twelve kilometres or so. Along the way we saw geese, cows, and all manner of idiotic people disregarding social distancing rules. There seems to be a link with money and idiocy – the 1% that own the river-side houses seemed to be taking no notice at all of any of the guidance – with friends visiting, children playing in huge groups – you end up having to compartmentalise them in your head, and try to take no notice.

I find myself compartmentalising a lot recently.

Today is a quiet day. The washing machine is running, the sun is shining, my middle daughter is continuing to paint miniature soldiers, and I’m hoping to watch the SpaceX launch later. In a little while I’ll call my parents to see how they are doing, and then the day is my own. I’m thinking a video game, or a book.

We all know I’ll just end up down an internet rabbit hole, don’t we.

Categories
Life

Pretending to Fly

I’m not sure that I have written so little for quite some time. Perhaps years. I haven’t so much fallen off the blogging horse, as taken the wheels off the wagon, and re-purposed the chassis for some other purpose (firewood springs to mind).

There are all sorts of thoughts swimming around my head about the future. Is this the end of my writing a daily journal? Perhaps. Is it a reflection on life slowing down, and realising that some things might be more important than telling a daily story where nothing much happens? Probably. Perhaps I’m finally realising that I don’t have to be out here, scribbling incessant posts every day – recording anything and everything. Perhaps a little now and again is enough.

In other news, I have more evidence that I’m living in a TV show.

I went for a walk with my daughter this morning – along the river to a nearby town, across the hills, and home again. We saw very little evidence of other people until we reached a road junction not far from home – a junction where I have always joked about unwittingly starring in my own show. Having not seen any cars for several hours, we approached the junction, and my daughter announced “cue the cars” – and out of nowhere, we coud not cross the road – four cars passed in a train – one behind the other. I burst out laughing, and pointed into the distance in all directions – there were no other cars in sight for perhaps a quarter of a mile in any direction.

If I AM starring in my own TV show, it would explain a LOT of things.

In yet more news, I’ve been playing with pretend aeroplane simulators again. I was talking to my Dad the other day about the fun he has “flying” online with his friends, and it sparked something inside me. Over the weekend I have taught myself how to navigate via GPS (I already knew how to use VORs, NDBs, DME etc), and had all sorts of fun pretending to fly from pretend airport to pretend airport in a light aircraft.

So there you have it. While not writing endless platitudes about very little, I have been pretending to pilot light aircraft, and inventing challenges for myself. When I finally get around to flying with my Dad’s friends, somehow I don’t think they’ll find my radio skills very humorous – “Heathrow Control, would like to order a deep pan pepperoni for pick up – approaching from the south west at 100 knots, ETA 30 minutes. Juliet Bravo 73 Over.”…