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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

Unused Holiday, Rain, and Fake Followers

It’s been a strange sort of day – and it isn’t over yet.

After a very strange dream that I can’t remember a lot about any more I slid out of bed at about 8am, had a shower, shave, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and wandered into the junk room to begin work. On Tuesday mornings we have an “all hands that can make it” video call – just to say hi to each other – to combat sitting alone at home for hours on end.

I made a comment about perhaps taking a few days off this week (it’s half term), and spending time with my daughters. Within a couple of hours of the call a holiday request had gone in – and by this afternoon had been approved. It kind of makes sense – there are projects afoot at work, and when they begin the chance for time off will vanish – much as it did for the last year, leading to the mountain of untaken holiday still sitting there.

It’s still raining. By my reckoning, apart from a brief bit of sunshine on Saturday morning, it’s rained pretty consistently for the last twenty years. I should really see about building a boat out of what’s left of the shed. I checked the weather forecast earlier – there’s a 60% chance of rain all-day every-day throughout the week.

It’s “pancake day” in the UK today. I’m not sure if the kids have found out yet. If they do, one or other of us will find themselves standing in the kitchen for an hour later, pouring batter into a frying pan, trying to look like we know what we’re doing.

I wonder who invented pancake day? I wonder if it has something to do with an overrun of milk somewhere, and a crafty scheme to get lots of people to use theirs up ?

In other news, a lot of people have started following my blog at WordPress just recently – 99% of them marketers and business owners. They follow, never read, and never comment. I wonder what they think they achieve when they follow blogs? According to the stats, across Tumblr and WordPress I have several thousand followers. In reality, I have about twenty regular readers, and of those, only two or three interact in any meaningful way.

It’s lies, damn lies, and statistics.

I read a post by somebody I know fairly well on Tumblr recently about being dropped and blocked by friends online. I used to really take it to heart when people either unfollowed or blocked me, but have slowly hardened up over the years. I suppose I came to realise that somebody falling off the radar is rarely about those they follow. I miss a lot of people who don’t post any more – more than they know. I sometimes wonder about reaching out, but then talk myself out of doing so just as quickly.

Anyway.

I think I might need to go and find the packet of cheap chocolate biscuits, and put the kettle on. For reasons.

Categories
Life

A Mental Health Walk

I walked into town after lunch with two of my daughters – a “mental health walk” – an escape from the walls that have been our prisoner for several weeks. It was good to get out of the house, if only for an hour.

We walked to the big park in town – mostly curious to take a look at the river that burst it’s banks last week. It’s receding now, but that hasn’t stopped the ducks and swans from taking ownership of a huge swathe of the riverbank. I quietly walked up to some of the swans, who showed no fear at all – walking slowly towards me as I approached. My eldest daughter backed away, making worried noises – she had a run in with a swan a few years ago while trying to take a picture of it.

The park was mostly quiet – predictable, given that it was a weekday – but also because it was so cold. After leaving the house snow began falling, and got heavier during the time we were out – beginning to settle on the ground. By the time we got home my face had become numb.

It was good to get out though. The cold weather seemed to remove the idiots that think the Corona Virus doesn’t apply to them. It’s strange how some people are more fearful of the cold than a deadly pandemic.

I found myself in an online debate of sorts with a particular kind of idiot last night, and something occurred to me. The people that complain about political bias, unfair reporting, and support conspiracy theories tend to do so because they have actively chosen to narrow the opinions they take notice of to those they agree with. It’s helped along by the very same algorithmic timeline they also complain about – because they fear missing out on anything. Figure that out – they fear missing out on the very same stories they don’t want to see.

Anyway.

It’s getting late, and I have a meeting first thing tomorrow. I need to sleep.

Categories
Life

And, Exhale

I watched the inauguration of Joe Biden as the new President of the United States yesterday evening, and then fell down an internet rabbit hole this morning watching Angela Gorman and Katy Perry on YouTube.

It feels like the United States has suddenly exhaled – and much of the rest of the world has too. While watching footage of the celebrations yesterday evening across America, I remembered news coverage of the election, and of a young mother celebrating in the street with her daughter as Biden was projected the winner – with tears streaming down her face.

It turns out hope is pretty damn emotive.

Of course it’s easy to think of those I know – who so wished for this outcome – as “everybody”. We have to remember that seventy million people voted for none of this to happen. I guess it’s their turn to suck it up. I do wonder if the Trump experiment will stop any sort of republican get into power for a very long time though. People have long memories.

Over here, after having a conservative government for many years, several generations of younger people eventually forced change, and we ended up with a socialist government for the better part of a decade. Of course now those younger people have gotten older, earned their money, and no longer want to share it – they have become conservative, and now don’t want any part of the socialism they pined for during their youth.

I remember my Grandfather once telling me that politics goes in cycles every eight or ten years – that history repeats itself again and again – that change is driven by the young.

I’ve never quite understood why people feel the need to take sides in any sort of debate. I sometimes watch political debates on TV, or read news stories, and wonder quite what happens to people – to fall in step with their “gang”. It reminds me a lot of people with faith in the various religions – being told what to believe, what to think, what to value.

What happened to people having their own mind? What happened to watching, reading, and deciding for yourself?

I think the most maddening thing I commonly see is people complaining that the news is biased – when what they really mean is “anything that doesn’t agree with what I think is biased”.

Anyway.

While writing this, a little voice perched on my shoulder, whispering “you shouldn’t really write about politics and religion, you know”…

Categories
Life

Loud Thoughts on a Quiet Weekend

It’s been very quiet indeed around here for the last few days. After a scare mid-week where my youngest daughter had to do a COVID test, we have stayed holed up in the house for almost the entire time. I walked to the supermarket last night to get groceries, but other than that we have gone nowhere and done nothing.

I’m beginning to understand what Stir Crazy really means.

Of course the huge distraction this week has been history unfolding in America – and I’ve been trying to do my usual fence sitting act – to read and watch a variety of news sources. It’s so hard – trying to have any empathy at all for those I know that think of themselves as republican. Their ideals and values pretty much go against everything I know – and yet I try not to say anything untoward.

While reading an interview yesterday expressing disbelief that so many people believe the stream of lies, falsehoods, and fraud coming from so many in positions of power, I couldn’t help thinking about all the religious people I know, and thinking how two faced everybody is. How is believing in election fraud any different than believing in a magical creator figure in the sky that gets credit for anything good, and is escaped from the argument for anything bad?

People believe what they want to believe, and there’s nothing we can really do about it.

The world is just tremendously broken. Perhaps we’re fortunate that it doesn’t go spectacularly wrong more often.

Categories
Life

Sushi

It’s our eldest daughter’s birthday today. Somehow she is 20 years old. I still think of her as the unsure 7 year old that walked through our door thirteen years ago, after two years wading through the endless red tape of the adoption process. We have found a sushi place that delivers, so have splashed out – I can’t remember the last time we had food delivered to the house.

In other news, the country looks like it’s heading back into lockdown – driven mostly by legions of idiots that don’t seem to be able to follow simple instructions from the government. The same people are complaining that the government are clueless morons. I’ve thought more than once about quietly pointing out that three quarters of those complaining voted for those they are complaining about. I doubt that would go down very well.

Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut, and watch the deck of the ship you’re standing on get set alight by those around you. Of course it’s not everybody. The vast majority are similarly furious. It’s the old story – a small minority ruin almost everything for almost everybody.

Oh. I’ve gone back to using the Bullet Journal, after playing with a Filofax for a few weeks. It turns out if you’re working from home all the time, you don’t really need to plan anything that far ahead – but having a day-to-day record of what you did, along with thoughts and ideas is pretty useful.

Anyway. Coffee. I need a coffee. And some music. And some sushi.

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

People Ruin Everything

Slowly but surely, we’re headed back towards lockdown – because some people think they know better than everybody else. And yes, I’m absolutely talking about the people who flew to overseas holidays this summer, or travelled long distances over land. Idiots.

“Oh, but the rules say…”

Yes, we all know what the rules say. And most people abide by them. Unfortunately a small number of people in all places don’t – and then you visit those places, and if you’re unlucky you cross paths with them – and you become a Darwin Award winner too.

There’s a lot of ignorance, selfishness, and thoughtlessness going on.

I was going to visit my parents late in the autumn for a week. There’s no way that can happen now. Next spring if we’re lucky. It’s not worth putting ourselves or them at risk.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go read a book, or fly a pretend aeroplane, because it doesn’t involve dealing with people.

Categories
Life

Priorities

I just got back from a walk through the warm evening air to the supermarket and back. It was intended as a mental health walk of sorts – I’ve been going increasingly stir crazy working from home. Of course then “people” intervened to ruin it, but I’ll get back to that.

While wandering around the supermarket, picking up all the exciting things – lightbulbs, dishwashing sponges, deodorant, and so on – I happened upon all the “back to school” things that are now being sold at a huge discount. I came home with two stationery sets I don’t really need – filled with notebooks, rulers, pens, pencils, and so on. I showed my other half, and she rolled her eyes.

“But they were on offer!”

I laughed at myself, and remembered a girl I used to work with – who once commented that her Mum would buy dog food if it was on offer, and they didn’t even have a dog.

I also bought nice coffee. If I’m going to be hunched over this desk for days on end, I’m going to damn well have nice coffee to give me higher quality shakes.

In other news we received some bad news tonight – a friend of my Dad – a fellow flight simulator enthusiast that he has virtually flown with countless times, made friends with, and visited for meals and nights out – died unexpectedly. He was a virtual air traffic controller for many of the flights my daughter has taken part in – I told her a little while after she came home from college tonight. Everything seems very sombre now.

While walking into town, I thought about those that knew the guy that passed away – and if they might be changed by it. None of us is here forever – there’s a saying about not getting a second go at this life business, isn’t there.

I suppose this brings me neatly to the ass-hats that ruined my quiet walk to the supermarket. While waiting at the checkout, 2 metres away from the next customer, an older gentleman walked up right behind me, well within the markings on the floor. While being quietly annoyed with him, the middle-aged women at the checkout couldn’t find her bank card, so pulled her face covering off to tell the girl on the checkout that she was looking for it – and didn’t put her mask back on.

What is it with older people not caring about the lockdown rules? Is it any surprise that a second wave is sweeping the world? I keep reading about people going on foreign holidays, and wondering “WHAT THE F*CK?”. Nobody seems to have any understanding at all about combinatorial explosion, or the potentially devastating consequences of not know you were spreading anything for the several week gestation period of the virus.

Why are people so frustrating?

Anyway.

Deep breaths.

I’ve switched back to writing in a text editor. I’m rocking Windows Notepad, and saving the text files into OneDrive. It requires very little effort indeed. Not having the daily car-crash news from the US a tab click away helps keep me on track.

p.s. Miss 16 loved her first day at college.