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Life

Star Wars Day

May the fourth be with you. Apparently today is “Star Wars Day”. It’s all a bit thtupid really, ithn’t it. Thee what I did there?

Anyway.

What news might I have to impart? Perhaps that I’m back using the bullet journal again. My attempt to weld myself to mobile productivity apps lasted all of one weekend. It turns out – for me at least – there really is nothing better than a piece of paper and a pen. Of course the productivity ninjas will probably start wittering on about there being bullet journals and bullet journals, and will reference their own expertly photographed double page spreads of yoga mornings, boutique lunch appointments, and zen afternoon wellbeing meetups.

Idiots.

My bullet journal is an embarrassment to bullet-journal-kind. Each day has a list of things I wanted to get done, and things I did. That’s it. That’s as clever as it gets. Sure, I can’t search it without flipping backwards through it, but it’s not like it takes very long to find a password I shouldn’t have written in it in the first place.

Sure, I could fill the pages with wonderful little doodles that might yearn for a home in a children’s book or a graphic novel, but what’s the point (other than photographing them to become some sort of illustration influencer) ?

I’m not sure if the US version of “The Office” had an equivalent scene to the one where head office turns up, and it turns out the manager has spent all day inventing a new television game show. That’s what comes to mind when I see some people’s bullet journals.

I get it though. Doodling is kind of creative – and if we pooh pooh all creative things, you may as well destroy all books, popular music, and performing arts. Remember the movie “The Invention of Lying” ? Remember the performers reading history text books? That’s what happens if you stop doodling. It probably has something to do with butterflies flapping their wings, and water dribbling across the back of Jeff Goldblum’s hand.

I drank ONE glass of prosecco a few minutes ago, and this post is what happened. Can you imagine what would happen if I drank another glass? Probably not a good idea.

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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

Thursday

It’s nearly 10am, and I’m sitting in the variously titled “study” or “junk room” at home, working. I’m a software developer. My job usually involves sitting in front of a computer all day, trying to turn somebody else’s ideas into reality. Sometimes it’s interesting. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s incredibly annoying. I won’t get into why.

I’m listening to Spotify. I made a retro playlist a few weeks ago – it’s playing now. Debbie Gibson is whining about something or other. The start of the song was quite good, but the louder she gets, the more whiney she gets. I’m moments away from clicking the “next track” button. Ah crap. Tiffany is now singing about being “Alone Now”…

The second coffee of the day is sitting next to me on the desk. There are bubbles of fat floating around the rim of the mug – we accidentally bought full-fat milk the other day, and I’m the only person that will drink it. I hate wasting things.

I quite like working from home, but I really need to start doing something about fitness. I haven’t been running for the last few weeks. It’s too tempting to stay in bed until work starts on a morning – especially given that my commute is essentially the six or seven footsteps from the bathroom to the junk room. I think perhaps home working suits some people better than others – even though I think of myself as a black belt at procrastination, I’m also a bit of a lunatic when faced with long and difficult projects – burying myself in them and confounding expectations all around me.

I am often my own worst enemy, because if you continue hitting things out of the park, people begin to expect it.

I resurrected my old Filofax diary the other day. I’m using it alongside the bullet journal at the moment, which I know is a bit mad. The bullet journal records the things I do each day – the filofax records the things coming up in the future. I somehow have always preferred paper over Google Calendar, Outlook, or whatever else.

My coffee is going cold. I should drink it. Heart are now singing Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. I might have to sit, drink the coffee, and listen.

This post was brought to you by procrastination, and apathy.

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Life

The Loneliness of the Short Distance Runner

I woke the first time with a start at 5am. I know this, because I looked at the clock before falling back asleep. I woke the second time at 8am, remembered I am on holiday, but also remembered about going running. One little voice said “but the bed is so comfy!”, while another little voice said “you’ll get enormously fat”. I’m turning into Gollum.

After scraping myself out of bed, I knocked on my teenage daughters bedroom doors, and enquired if they might be running with me.

Five minutes later, I left the house. Alone.

I didn’t really have a plan, and set off in the general direction of town – listening to my breathing, and not really feeling like running at all, but I was already out, and running, so thought it a bit stupid to stop. I would only have myself to answer to anyway.

While running along one of the suburban roads down by the river, a woman in her fifties (I’m guessing) ran past on the opposite footpath. She was hunched over, and running seemed like an enormous struggle for her, but she was doing it. She reminded me that I really have no excuses.

After looping back through town, I passed several people completely ignoring the one-way signs on the pavements (a very low effort way of safeguarding people from the virus). I’m not quite sure what level of stupidity and/or laziness is needed to ignore social distancing signage.

By the time I got home my other half had already left for work, and none of my daughters had yet surfaced. I busied myself with hanging washing out, filling the washing machine with the first of many loads, and clearing the kitchen and lounge of wreckage from the night before.

I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever know how our house so reliably destroys itself every evening. I’m pretty sure the missing mass in the universe is directly linked to pens people have “borrowed” from me, and unwashed tea spoons.

My eldest daughter surprised me mid-morning with a number of questions about bullet journaling. I’ve been writing in a bullet journal for the last two or three years – keeping a record of the things I do each day. I think she’s finally coming around to the whole “rapid logging” thing – where you DON’T make each page into a ridiculous faux arts and crafts production, and you just write down the things you have done, or the things you want to do.

I pointed her at the Ryder Carroll book on the bookshelf, which she studiously ignored.

Late this afternoon I let my middle daughter attempt to “air traffic control” me in the simulator. With her at one end of the house, and me at the other, she watched a radar screen, and barked instructions to direct me through a number of circuits of an airfield in southern England. I realised we might have a problem after the second time she told me to turn in the opposite direction than she meant. Somehow I don’t think air traffic controllers are ever heard saying “left, no, the other left”, “my bad”, or “you can do if you want”.

Anyway. One day of holiday used up. Very little achieved. Must try harder to do something of consequence tomorrow. Maybe a long walk. We’ll see.