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.

Categories
Life

Frustrated

I’m stepping away from the social internet for a while.

Everywhere I look, all I see is keyboard warriors writing at length about politics, social injustice, gender bias, racism, and any other thing that has triggered them on a particular day.

Here’s the thing – social networks surround people with those that share similar views – so all they are doing is preaching to the choir. Here’s another thing – most people don’t want to start a conversation – they just want to promote their often badly informed views and opinions as widely as possible.

If those expounding at length about the injustices surrounding them invested anywhere near as much effort in actually doing anything, they might succeed in moving the dial a little, rather than just making a lot of noise about where it’s pointing.

Of course the internet isn’t entirely full of soap-box activists. There’s a quiet army of regular people, just trying to get from one day to the next without being called out, or drawn into anything too horrendous.  That doesn’t mean they don’t care.

If you see me posting about flying pretend aeroplanes, exploring imaginary planets, or adventuring through sewers as a mad Italian plumber over the coming weeks, you’ll know why.

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

Through Caverns Measureless to Man

The internet came of age when I was an impressionable teen. An infinite rabbit hole, filled with ideas, knowledge, thoughts, idiocy, adventure, and everything in-between. Idealism and optimism convinced us that we might find our tribe somewhere deep in the labyrinth, and forge an escape from the world around us.

I still view the internet in rose tinted glasses.

The beginning of a blog post always seems like an opportunity – an empty page, with limitless possibilities. Words that might agree with somebody somewhere, and build an unlikely connection.

The serendipitous discovery of new writers while on expeditions deep in the catacombs of the internet conjures images of Victorian explorers lowering rowing boats from sailing ships to undiscovered countries.

Call me a fool. I will agree with you.

I choose to see a world full of possibility, friendship, and kindness. I choose to ignore the legions of trolls, soap-box politicians, keyboard warriors, and cancel culture mouthpieces that blight the internet I once knew.

The internet is bigger than any one of us. It will still be here when we are gone. We are assembling a treasure trove for future generations of thoughts, ideas, stories, music, and art. It would be a tremendous shame not to take advantage of it.

Categories
Life

Out of the Loop

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you find me holed up in the junk room at home, forcing myself to empty my head into the keyboard. The broken toe is slowly healing – doing as little as possible throughout the last week has helped a lot. Fingers crossed, I’ll be back running again by mid August.

It’s incredibly frustrating – my fitness was at about the 5K mark when the accident happened. I imagine it will take a few weeks to get any sort of stamina back after doing nothing for so long. I have started to wonder about doing some upper body workouts in the meantime. It’s all about actually *doing* it though, isn’t it.

Did I write about losing weight? Throughout the lockdown I have cut out snacks and alcohol. To begin with it was to support my eldest daughter who is trying to lose weight, but then the cat ended up in hospital, and now we don’t have enough money for snacks or alcohol – so that kind of solved itself. In the space of a month, I have lost a stone (14 pounds). If I carry on at the current trajectory, by the time I start running again, I’ll be about the same weight I was 20 years ago.

Anyway. I titled this post “Out of the Loop”, because it describes the way I feel at the moment pretty accurately. It feels like I’m slowly falling away from everything I have clung on to for the last however many years. Last week I removed the vast majority of those I had connected with through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook over the years. I guess the noise just got too much.

I really don’t like the polarisation that’s going on at the moment. Too many people seem to be standing on soapboxes and declaring that if you’re not with them, you’re against them. The easiest way to deal with it is of course to silence it – which you can do with the click of a mouse – and I have.

My email in-box has never been so quiet. I like it.

This evening I’m hoping to sit down with my family and watch the Eurovision movie on Netflix. I watched a clip from it earlier, and became unexpectedly emotional. Oh – completely forgot – I watched a wonderful movie earlier in the week, starring Morgan Freeman as a retired writer living for the summer in a friend’s house, and begrudgingly befriending the family next door. I love quiet movies about ordinary people. It’s called “Once More” – look it up.