Finding Time

As a few might have noticed, I’ve returned to WordPress. This had absolutely nothing to do with platforms – more about separation of concerns. I needed to use Substack for something else, and would rather have something of a dividing wall between my personal blog, and other endeavours.

So what have I been up to in my absence?

I started a damn fool escapade on the internet a few weeks ago, and it exploded in popularity – turning from a few minutes of my time into a full time second job. I’m doing it of my own volition though, so I only have myself to complain to.

I was up until 3am last night trying to find out what was eating disk space on a web server – this after going round in circles trying to find out why on earth something was failing – before realising the software was lying to me.

Today I spent the majority of the day at my youngest daughter’s school – running a second hand book stall to help raise funds for the school. I ran the stall for the better part of three hours – greeting parents and children and attempting to part them with their money. While I sold books, my other half ran the perenially popular “lucky dip”, and “hook a duck” games.

While setting the book stall up a man approached with his daughter, and spied a collection of perhaps 100 issues of a popular comic – obviously somebody’s entire collection. He initially bought 10 issues, before returning later to take a second look. I offered him the entire collection for quite a small amount of money, and he said something that made me smile – “I’ll never get away with it”. He wasn’t buying them for his children at all.

Anyway.

It’s nice to be back. As time allows, I will try to catch up with some of the blogs I follow – to find out what you’ve been up to.

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Washing and Writing

We got home on Wednesday. It’s now Saturday. The washing machine is still going. I think we can see the end of the washing mountain now though (thankfully). It’s just a case of getting it all dry, folding it, and putting it away – which we know won’t happen, don’t we. A family home isn’t homely unless there are piles of clean washing stacked everywhere.

I’m listening to Spotify while writing this. We signed up for a family account while we were away – so the kids could listen to music in the car without chewing through data. I need to remember to cancel it soon.

I posted some writing on Medium last night – a few thoughts about the ridiculousness of the whole “productivity” charade. I’m trying really hard to write about “me”, rather than “you”, because “you” looks far too much like mansplaining. I’m not quite sure what happened in my head, but in recent months mansplaining has become a massive trigger for me – as soon as I see it, I have to resist the temptation to reply to the author “thank you for mansplaining that to me”.

It’s not just men that mansplain – my middle daughter is a master at it – mostly because she is as literal as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. On more than one occasion she has laughed (very late) at a joke, turned to us all, and started with “that’s funny because…”

Did I mention that I’m on a diet? Our middle daughter needs to lose weight, and we could all do with losing a few pounds, so thought “why not”. There is now a ban on snacks around the house. I guess this is three years of sedentary pandemic behaviours catching up with us. The end goal – for my daughter – is to pass the army fitness test. Yes, you heard that right – she’s looking at the army as a possible future. I’m not worried about that at all.

The Journey Home

We left my parents house in Cornwall mid-morning. The final hour was a huge game of backwards Jenga, where our belongings (and various acquisitions) were re-assembled into the car.

Seven hours later (after a wander into a nearby fishing village, and a rest-stop mid-afternoon, we arrived home. Our car doesn’t seem particularly happy with us – dropping in power somewhat spectacularly during the final 20 kilometres, but it did well for the previous 360.

This evening has been all about unpacking things, setting fire to the washing machine, and wrestling the house back towards normality.

During the journey home I pulled the trigger on a new laptop for myself. A Chromebook from Amazon. It arrives tomorrow. If you’re wondering why, you might not know that I’ve been soldiering on with a rather decrepit, ancient laptop that was once bought for one of my children. It dies within minutes when not connected to a power source, and isn’t worth repairing because cost would outweigh it’s worth.

This evening I also resurrected my account at Medium. While away I reminded myself how much I enjoy writing. Sure, I might not always have a lot to say, but Medium will give me a platform for the longer-form idiocy that I wouldn’t dare post to this journal. I hope that makes at least a little sense.

The task now – or rather once I return to work next week – will be fitting all of this into a chaotic, busy life. I guess we’ll see how that goes.

The End of the Week

It’s Friday morning – or at least I think it’s still Friday morning – and I’m taking a break from work for a few minutes. I’m actually thinking about abandoning work for the rest of the day – COVID seems to be taking a second bite out of me. It might be better to admit defeat, have a quiet weekend, and give my body a chance to repair itself.

I need to get some more Redbush tea – I went through almost an entire box of it earlier in the week.

Maybe a quiet book today. Or sleep. We’ll see.

Back to Work

It’s day five since the symptoms of COVID arrived like a car crash, and I’m back working. My brain is been in a bit of a fog for most of the day, but to be honest having something to get on with has been really good.

You know when you sit in the dead of night, and can hear the blood pumping through your ears? I have that sensation, but all the time. I can only imagine it’s my body’s way of saying “I’m working really hard here – just give me a few days”.

Main lesson of the last few days? Redbush tea with honey in it was the only thing I felt like drinking. I’ve found that for the last few years, when ill. Thankfully I’m rarely sick – but when I am, I can’t stomach coffee. Go figure.

I’m back drinking coffee today.

I wonder how much of the day one headache was caffeine withdrawal, and how much was COVID going on a wrecking-spree around my head?

Anyway.

Today has been a good day (so far). Let’s see how the evening goes.

Day Four

Based on the very unscientific method of counting back to when the aches and temperature first appeared, this is day four of COVID, and my body appears to be staging a remarkable fightback. As long as I sit quietly, the aches and pains appear to be leaving me alone. As soon as I try and do anything, my body starts overheating.

We’ll try to ignore that after everybody left the house this morning I snuck down to make a cup of tea and discovered similar devastation to yesterday. At least it only took me three quarters of an hour to clear up today.

The washing machine is on it’s second load so far. The dishwasher has been emptied and re-filled again (don’t even ask), and the leftover food that had caused a cloud of flies to arrive has been dealt with. Of course now nobody can use the kitchen for a while – until the fly spray dissipates (the windows and door are wide open).

I was hoping to return to work tomorrow, based on feeling quite a bit better last night, but now I’m not so sure. My head is ringing. I’m not sure what causes that – blood pressure probably.

Where does the time go?

Since stepping back from posting “every other day” to the blog, I’ve discovered a paradox of sorts. While I thought having a few days between posts might conjure stories worth telling, the reality is that by the time I sit down to write anything, I’ve forgotten the stories worth telling.

Norah Ephron was right about recording the exhales. If I don’t record my thoughts on the same day they happen, then get over-written by the rest of the mayhem that generally surrounds me.

Anyway.

What have I been up to? Working. And then working some more. I’m learning the ropes with a number of new (to me) programming languages, platforms, and technologies – and it’s kind of been all-consuming. It’s not a purely academic exercise either – it’s a somewhat important commercial project. Unfortunately I can’t share any more than that.

There have been several days in the past few weeks when I’ve forgotten to stop for lunch – which doesn’t do my body much good at all. While talking to a friend across the way that often walks her dog, I suggested she might knock on the window and encourage me to join her – if only for a few minutes. We somehow have to engineer it so she appears in the window while I’m on a conference call – just to get my co-workers talking.

We finished watching Obi-Wan Kenobi this evening. I liked it. We’re also half-way through watching Dune (the new version – not the old one with Sting in). We need to set aside an entire evening to watch the rest of it – it’s a LONG film, but what we’ve seen so far has been wonderful. I’ve also promised to watch “Orphan Black”, so the earlier mentioned friend has somebody to talk to about it. It’s funny how television and movies become such a connection between people, isn’t it.

I’ll try and post a bit more often to the blog in the coming weeks. The more mundane stuff – like this post. I’ve kind of missed emptying my head. Finding the time to do so will always be the challenge – I’m writing this at nearly 1am.

Spread Thinly

How is it Thursday already? Where do the days go? It feels like my feet haven’t touched the ground all week. Take today as an example – somehow I’ve filled and emptied the dishwasher, thrown three loads of clothes through the washing machine and hung them out to dry, sprayed the bedroom, stairs, and living room with flea spray (never get cats), hoovered all over, picked up after everybody, AND got on with work.

And it’s only just after lunchtime.

I’m taking half an hour off from everything to write this, and listen to some music. I use my phone with a bluetooth speaker in the study that my cousin gave me. I have a free spotify subscription, and choose random playlists each day.

I only have one curated playlist of my own – that I compiled with the help of an old friend – filled with 70s, 80s and 90s classics. Whenever I listen to it I think of them now – and wonder how they are.

Anyway.

Time to go grab a glass of water. Now the weather is getting warmer, it doesn’t do to stay sitting at the desk for too long – and apparently water intake is the best way to avoid my feet swelling up (it happened last year). I imagine the gallons of coffee I drink can’t help either.

I’ll writing again when I get a chance.

Running Up That Hill

Invariably I try to get to a “good place” with programming before finishing for the day – yesterday that didn’t happen. Something wasn’t working, and it consumed me all evening. At dinner the rest of my family asked what was going on – catching me staring into space, thinking about it.

After watching Stranger Things with my eldest daughter yesterday evening I got the work laptop back out, and started digging. I solved the problem, then realised everybody else had gone to bed. It was 1am. Then I worked straight through lunchtime today. Yes, I am my own worst enemy.

Getting back to Stranger Things – Oh. My. Word. Haven’t enjoyed a TV show so much in ages. After watching two episodes of season 4 back-to-back with my eldest daughter last night, we emerged into the kitchen with our thoughts racing from theory to theory about what developments in the story meant, and what might happen next. I can’t remember seeing her so enthused by anything for quite some time.

I’m listening to a Stranger Things soundtrack on Spotify right now – the show is now set in “my” era – the mid to late 1980s. I will admit to smiling when I saw Kate Bush racing up the global charts – of course we didn’t know until last night just why. After the scene in question I turned to my daughter, wide eyed, and whispered “is it ok to breathe now?”

Anyway.

Enough about TV. I’m wondering about going for a walk to decompress from everything. Perhaps pick up some cookies or something along the way.