Categories
Life

Nothing to Report

I’m trying not to read the news. The news is full of stories about the Indian variant of the coronavirus going on something of a rampage, and causing brakes to perhaps be put on the slow journey out of lockdown we had all been on. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the variant arrived here – until recently travel to and from India was allowed if you had good enough reason. It’s all rather depressing really.

It’s interesting really – that while the modern world has become so much smaller through the development of affordable methods of travel, it has also ensured that viruses can spread throughout the planet in days or weeks.

In-between working and doing chores, I’ve been tinkering with an old computer at home – or rather, a simulation of an old computer. There is an old laptop sitting on the desk opposite me, suffering from a multiple-personality disorder. It’s running an “emulator” – which transforms it into a Commodore Amiga – a computer that most people haven’t seen for the better part of twenty five years. Don’t ask me why I’m tinkering with it. I don’t really know.

The blog seems to have taken a back-seat in recent days. I’m not really sure why. I tend to go through phases with writing – sometimes I have all manner of ideas, thoughts, or stories to communicate – and then sometimes I have nothing at all.

Anyway.

I have nothing to report today. No great news. Nothing of note has happened. I’ll shut up before I single-handedly induce narcolepsy in enough people for “big data” to expose me as a danger to civilised society. “Most boring man in known universe becomes danger to others”.

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

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.