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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.

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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

Nowhere Quickly

It’s Sunday afternoon, I’m sitting in the junk room in front of the computer, the chores are done, my other half is out, and Norah Jones is singing about being Alive on the colossal beat box my cousin from California got me for my birthday.

I woke at 6:30am this morning, and stared at the ceiling for an hour before getting up.

I’m sipping an instant cappuccino made from a packet that isn’t half bad, and wondering what to write next. Probably a defence of instant coffee would be a good start. I’m pretty sure there’s a very vocal yet tiny minority who own coffee machines that cost more than a family car that only touch coffee beans from a small corner of Africa.

While on the subject of idiots, I saw a wonderful take-down the other day – where an anti-masker was mansplaining about half a million years of evolution not evolving face masks, therefore we shouldn’t wear them. The first comment asked “do you wear shoes?”

If nothing else, the last year has highlighted both how wonderful people can be, and how horrific too. I keep reading that “the world has changed”. Of course it has – just like it does every day, for everybody.

So. I have a week off work. I’m a little giddy at the prospect at the moment – filling my head with all the things I won’t get done. Apart from cutting the grass. If I don’t get the grass cut, I’m fairly certain we could film another sequel to Jumanji in our back garden. For all I know, one of the Jonas brothers really has been living at the end of the garden for the last however many years.

I stepped back into the “interpals” foray one evening last week. It bills itself as a website for finding pen-pals. I thought it might be a good idea to build a bigger circle of online friends for myself, but quickly remembered why I walked away some time ago – within minutes several men and women had messaged me, inviting me to learn about Bitcoin, and a seemingly lovely chinese lady cut me off at “hello” (having not read my profile) because she was “only looking for husband”. I wondered if she was looking for *a* husband, or *her specific* husband… had she lost him? Had he run away? Was he sneaking around doing bitcoin deals behind her back?

I think maybe the best idea is to just write my words in the blog, and see who finds them. The internet is pretty good at connecting the dots between people all on it’s own if you have a little faith in it (and tag the crap out of everything).

Maybe when we finally climb back out of lockdown, I’ll explain my continued absence by leaving a note on the front door – “I have replaced my circle of real-world friends with bitcoin scam robots – they’re surprisingly good listeners”.

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Life

Sunday Night

It just occurred to me that I should write something on the blog. Somehow I’ve fallen away from writing nearly every day, to writing every few days. Perhaps the promise I made to myself to read books, watch movies, and spend time with my family is working.

I’ve been reading “The Queen’s Gambit” over the last several evenings – I’ve nearly finished it now. It’s every bit as good as the TV series, but perhaps I still have rose tinted glasses – the TV series was incredible. The next book on the heap is Ready Player Two – which seems like a re-tread of Ready Player One. I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve read it properly – I snuck a little of it at Christmas while sitting quietly in the lounge one night.

We’re still working our way through the box of movies scribbled on raffle tickets. We watched “Eurovision”, and “Bumblebee” last week.

Last night we organised a quiz on Zoom for family and friends. It was fun – a lot of the older family members had never been on a webcam before, so doing tech support for the first half an hour was a bit of a struggle. We got there in the end. As always, the “after party” was probably more fun than the quiz itself – the drinks and snacks came out, and we all got to say hello to people we had not seen for years in some cases.

Anyway.

I have a book to go finish reading. I’ll write again soon!

p.s. the other blog at Medium is doing really well. It’s a bit scary.

Categories
Life

Comfortable in my own Skin

I decided about an hour ago that it might be a good idea to update my profile photo everywhere – to better reflect what I have looked like for the last six months or so. It struck me while posting it that something unexpected has happened in recent times – I have become more-or-less comfortable in my own skin. In my thoughts too. Things haven’t always been this way.

When I was young, I was always the gawky kid that didn’t quite fit in. I found it difficult to make friends, and then difficult to maintain friendships. I thought about things too much – I still do – and worried about perceptions of actions and words by those around me.

I wouldn’t say I’ve started to care less about what other people think – I think perhaps I’ve just become a little more confident that my view or outlook is ok – that I’m not a lunatic or monster. If somebody else wants to have an agenda, or a mission, that’s up to them – we don’t have to share opinions, ideals, or world-views. Differences are almost always what make people interesting, and a chance to learn from. I suppose the only problem with that is the most vocal are often the most resistant to other points of view.

It doesn’t help that historically I have sat on the fence about so many things.

For years if questioned about my religious beliefs, I would say I was agnostic – because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. These days when questioned, I will freely admit that I have no faith or belief in any sort of higher power. That’s not the same as atheism – by the same logic that you can’t prove the existence of a higher power, you can’t disprove it either. Just because you haven’t observed something yet doesn’t mean it’s not there.

A few months ago I probably lost a few friends while defending J K Rowling’s defence of women’s rights, in the face of an opinionated mob weaponising social media against her. When a public response against such attacks on social media was then signed by several hundred of the foremost writers and thinkers of our time, I will admit to exhaling somewhat.

A similar situation happened about a month after the COVID19 pandemic had swept the world. For a time our prime minister was in hospital, being treated for the virus, and the people were behind him. Then slowly but surely, all manner of keyboard warriors and armchair experts started weighing in on every decision, both past and present. I commented about it on Facebook, and spent an afternoon defending even the thought that I might defend our government. Somebody I used to work with eventually saw my point, and commented “see that’s the thing – you’re a nice person – you’re calm, objective, and reasonable – so you expect others to be too”. There were no more comments after that.

Stepping away from blogging over the last few months has caused quite a bit of reflection – about why I write, what I write, and who I write for. Although I have often stated that I write for myself, if you know any sort of audience is out there, it obviously influences you to an extent. I’ve begun to wonder if I now care less about that audience too – not in a bad way – but it’s difficult to express why.

Maybe it’s a realisation that everybody has their own story – their own journey – and it’s not about worrying what others think – it’s more about being true to yourself, and affording others the chance to do the same.

Categories
Life

It’s a Serious Business

Somehow it’s already the first of August. How the hell did that happen? You know how you’re about to step in a huge dog turd, and you notice at the last moment, and do an enormous step? It feels like the world did that between February and August.

For the first few months of lock-down, we saved SO much money – thousands – and then of course the cat got sick, and wiped out his own insurance, and all of our savings. I guess I can look back at the last few months and realise that I’m lighter and fitter than I was – although I haven’t run for the last few days. I really need to get out tomorrow morning for a run.

Today I seem to have the beginnings of a cold. I’m crossing my fingers that it isn’t. I’m wondering if it’s down to a friend visiting unannounced yesterday afternoon. Our entire house has been in lock-down since February, with only two small groups of friends, and my in-laws visiting throughout (and even then, they were all outside). Yesterday a friend visited, and sat in the lounge with the rest of the family, completely ignoring any sort of social distancing. I made myself immediately scarce, because I didn’t want to have the awkward “um, what they hell?” conversation.

Lots of hot tea, and an early night ahead for me.

In other news, we started watching “The Umbrella Academy” the other night – and even after one episode, I began thinking “here we go – another comic book story where the world is supposed to end, except they’ll save it just in time, and fight with each other along the way”. There’s a part of me that longs for a Star Trek episode where they crew meet something in the first five minutes of the episode that completely and utterly wipes them out, and the series ends, right there. The galactic version of the Spanish encountering the Mayans. That’s a bit dark, isn’t it.

I ended up re-watching the first few episodes of “Halt and Catch Fire” late last night – to remind myself just how good it was. I might have to go back and watch Mr Robot too – although once the suspense and misdirection has gone, a lot of it’s draw will be removed.

I’m still bitter that “The OA” got cancelled.

Over the past few weeks – while not blogging – I’ve carried on with the flight simulation idiocy. I’m a pretty proficient pretend Boeing and Airbus pilot now. I have no doubt these skills will come into play one day while travelling with work, as a gorgeous, panic stricken air hostess runs down the aircraft and asks “DOES ANYBODY KNOW HOW TO FLY A COMMERCIAL JET?”. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it while shaking like a leaf, with pee in my shoes though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more tea to drink. It’s a serious business, this tea drinking lark.

Categories
Life

Familiar Faces

We setup a Zoom meeting with people living nearby in the neighbourhood this evening, wired up the laptop to the television in the lounge, and spent a couple of hours catching up with each other. It was nice to see familiar faces again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have had far too much to drink, and am trying to figure out how I might go for a run in the morning.

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Life

It’s about being there

I watched an old episode of “Halt and Catch Fire” this evening. If you’ve not seen it, the show ran for four seasons, and broadly told the story of the 1980s computer revolution, the birth of the internet, and latterly the world wide web. The story was told through the lives of a small group of people that cross through many of the defining moments of those decades – sometimes by luck, sometimes by foresight.

There is a monologue towards the end of the third season, where one of the characters is trying to describe not so much what the future might hold for the World Wide Web (which in the time-line of the show had just been invented by Tim Berners Lee), but that the Web wasn’t the important thing – and neither was the Browser – it was all about the means of getting to the place you’re going.

The internet, the web, and the browser were “the thing that gets us to the thing”. You might even argue that directories such as Yahoo, and latterly the search engines were a further extension of that – because we don’t set off in search of pictures or words – we set off in search of the subject of those pictures, and the author of those words.

When we access the internet, the thing we are trying to get to isn’t a distant computer, or a page of text, or a photograph. It is a person. Their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It’s not about how we get there – it’s about being there.