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Life

Ignoring the Tomorrowness

May the fifth be with you. Doesn’t sound quite as good, does it. At the time of writing it’s eight minutes past midnight, so I suppose it’s already tomorrow. The sixth. Perhaps I’ll ignore the tomorrowness of it all, and pretend it’s still tonight.

I have a somewhat important conference call tomorrow morning. I should really be asleep already – recharging my batteries in order to appear somewhat cogent while sipping coffee in front of the laptop webcam.

The draw of the internet rabbit hole is strong. Oh, the hours I could spend reading about subjects of little consequence to me. Last night I found myself reading about the Trinity nuclear tests at midnight. I’m not sure why.

There seems to be an event horizon in the internet rabbit hole, beyond which all manner of interesting yet unknown distractions lurk.

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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

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”.

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

Running and Coffee

I scraped myself out of bed before 7am this morning and went for a run. I must be mad. Or feeling guilty that I haven’t been running (or done any sort of physical exercise) for weeks. I just ran a few miles around town, but it felt good. Good to be out doing something.

I have to keep reminding myself that it’s half-way through September. After spending most of the weekend in a t-shirt and shorts, I retrieved the reflective waterproof I usually wear for evening runs from the depths of the closet, and hoped for the best.

During the height of lockdown you would see people out exercising every morning. That’s all stopped. I ran right through the middle of town, and didn’t see a single person. Nobody. I started to wonder if everybody had left town and not told me about some sort of impending doom.

I’m now killing the last half an hour before work starts. I just noticed an OpenReach van parked outside – they work on broadband network infrastructure. I have a call open about our continuing internet problems – fingers crossed they are here to help (cue exasperated look as they drive off without apparently doing anything).

It’s my wedding anniversary tomorrow. We’ve somehow made it through nineteen years without killing each other. I think we’re inviting some friends over to celebrate with us (read: we will feed some friends and make idiotic conversation – mainly to avoid killing each other).

I think perhaps a second cup of coffee might be a good way to start the day.

Categories
Life

Drama Queens

It’s Sunday afternoon, and the sun is shining. I expect the rest of the family will expect me to wander out into the back garden soon and start the barbecue. I’m wondering where the weekend went.

I’ve recently found myself thinking about this whole blogging escapade again. I’ve been writing at WordPress for years, and cross-posting into Tumblr. While doing so, WordPress has been slowly pivoting towards becoming a publishing platform – great for running a company website, but perhaps not quite so good at being a personal journal. If I’m right, Automattic’s acquisition of Tumblr makes a lot of sense.

The social internet itself is changing too (if indeed it ever was social).

The internet has become a lot less open and accepting than it once was. Cancel culture has to shoulder much of the blame for that. Rather than embrace differences, and celebrate diversity of thought and opinion, too many people have joined forces in a weaponised rampage of destruction – racing to the bottom as fast as they can. It’s a shame.

I’m reminded of a ridiculous comedy movie many years ago where the staff of a factory repeatedly downed tools and went on strike for the most innocuous of reasons – if transposed into the social internet, it’s the same as somebody noticing a slight perceived injustice while wandering along a street, setting up a soap-box, attracting a crowd, and handing out sub-machine-guns to anybody that might want to join in the “take down”.

The distortion of “Black Lives Matter” has proven that a militant minority will attach itself to any populist cause in order to quietly further their real aim, or bring down the cause they are pretending to support.

This got a bit deep, didn’t it.

Shall we just agree that on the whole, people are great – but also that a small number of people ruin everything for everybody else. I think the Celestine Prophecy described it in terms of energy transactions – where some would create dramas to draw energy from others. Drama queens. The world needs a few less drama queens.

Shall we also agree that I need to stop thinking so much ?

Categories
Life

I’m Coming Too

I meant to write something late last night. I got as far as writing “it’s half past midnight”, but somehow didn’t get any further.

My mental batteries are drained. I’ve been working on software development projects for the last week. It’s not easy to switch off – you turn over problems in the back of your mind late at night – or at least I do.

I need to get out of the house tomorrow – perhaps an early morning run. Anything really.

The world around us is slowly locking down again – caused by the legions of idiots that surround us. My other half forgot to take her lunch to work this morning, so I wandered up to the school via a service station that has a bakery on-site. While standing in the socially distanced queue with my mask on, I noticed the elderly man in front of me was not wearing a mask. There were signs everywhere instructing everybody to wear masks. He took no notice.

The internet connection is still dropping out all the time at home – we have had little or no internet for a week now. I’m relying on my work phone acting as a hot-spot to check email. There is a call open with our internet service provider, but no news so far. The kids are going out of their mind – deprived of YouTube and Tiktok.

Tomorrow may be all about books, cups of tea, and board games. If the weather is nice, perhaps a long walk away from everybody and everything – well, apart from the kids. I’m pretty sure if I announced “I’m going for a walk – I need some space for a bit”, at least two of them would shout “I’m coming too”…

Categories
Life

Mostly Offline

I was going to to title this post “Working from Home”, but this is my life now – working from home.

I’m glad I still have a job, and I don’t really miss the office environment – but a few things have started to happen that I’m not too happy about. It’s interesting to see how different people deal with the impersonal and disconnected nature of home working – I hadn’t anticipated that some would take advantage of it. I guess we’re all learning and adapting though, so it would be wrong to call anybody out. Lets just say it seems some are adapting more quickly than others.

While doing chores at the weekend I realised I haven’t left the house for a couple of weeks. I get up, work, eat dinner, wash up, play video games or watch TV, and go to bed – again, and again. I have found myself playing chess late in the evenings just recently. I used to play years ago, and the internet has pretty much solved “finding people to play with” – just as it has solved so many other things. It’s not quite the same as sitting across a board from a real person though, and emptying your head while pretending to care about the board game in front of you.

I wonder how many other games are really just excuses to spend time together? I know sometimes I offer to play board games late at night with my other half – purely because we haven’t spent any time together recently. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve lost at Trivial Pursuit against her – and scrabble. She lulls me into a false sense of security – like a cat playing with a mouse – lets me feel quite clever, and then ruins everything with some stupid word that scores more than my total score.

For the last several days disaster has befallen our house – our internet connection has been intermittent at best. This evening it appears to have given up entirely (we were told at the end of last week that engineers would work on it today – I’m not holding out much hope). The children are going out of their mind – deprived of Tiktok and YouTube, they don’t know what to do with themselves. I asked if they might go and read a book, and they looked at me like something they had just trodden in.

If the internet continues to bless us with it’s absence, I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to continue working, or how our eldest daughter is going to do her college work (she is going to be working from home a couple of days a week via Google Classrooms).

Anyway. I’m sure there are bigger problems in the world than not having an internet connection. Probably.