Twenty to Midnight

As the title suggests, the clock is whirling inexorably toward midnight once again. I’m sitting in the dark of the junk room, watching a pretend aeroplane whistle across a pretend sky – headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia. It’s relaxing, in a strange sort of way.

Work is going well at the moment – although all-consuming in a very non-relaxing way. While software development is fulfilling, it is also draining. The amount of concentration, effort, and mental gymnastics needed to bring projects to fruition is often enormous. It takes it out of you.

Life at home continues as it always has – putting one foot in front of the other. Just as I thought I might be getting ahead of the bank a little, the washing machine started to fail. That will wipe out the meagre savings we had made in recent months. We never seem to get far away from zero.

I woke up this morning having pulled a muscle in my back. I did it yesterday – although I’m not entirely sure how. I’ve been taking ibuprofen throughout the day, which has helped. I swear… my body is starting to fall to pieces. I put it down to working from home. I went from cycling miles every day to not cycling anywhere at all – and it’s having an effect. I really DO need to start doing something regularly. I’ve begun running from time to time, but never seem to stick at it any more. I am succeeding in losing weight though. A kilogram or so per week. Slow and steady.

Anyway – my pretend aeroplane is about to land. I need to go “do my job” in the flight deck.

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Decompression

Two weeks to think about as little as possible.

Most people would be pouring a drink out this evening. I’m on my third (or fourth) pint of water today. I’ve lost count. I drank two cans of cider after work last night, and have paid for it all day with a banging headache. I’m rubbish at drinking these days – so much so that I’ve been wondering about stopping entirely.

I know a few people that have given up alcohol entirely, and admire their decision tremendously. While I’ll probably “never say never”, the old saying “just the one” will probably become my mantra. In truth, I hate the wasted half-a-day that having one more drink brings about – I would rather have been doing something interesting, no matter how useless that thing might have been.

Anyway.

I’m planning on doing as little as possible this weekend. A proper rest. Don’t be surprised if you start to see blog posts every day during my time off work.

In other news, I’ve been tinkering with note-taking apps over the past week – looking at Notion once again, Obsidian, and my old bullet journal. While the bullet journal appeals to my eccentric side, it doesn’t fit well with work because it’s not searchable. Obsidian may well win that battle. Outside work though? I wonder if I really need anything at all. Google Drive has become an unlikely trusted store for anything and everything worth keeping. Notion just becomes an enormous tinkerers rabbit hole, where you spend all day re-arranging your cheese.

Maybe I should just keep going with the paper bullet journal. It doesn’t require batteries, and if not for it I would probably have forgotten how to write by now.

On the outside, looking in

As I grow older a realisation of sorts has happened – that the world will continue on with or without me, and that my participation in it is largely inconsequential. I think perhaps as you get older you begin to appreciate that it’s not all about you.

When I was young, like many I was filled with a wonderful level of conceit, self importance, and lack of empathy. Most people are. This is no bad thing – while finding your way in the world, if you worry too much about everybody else finding their way, you might lose track of where you are headed.

There’s a difference between heading and course though.

The direction we’re going right now might not take us to the destination we had planned. And that’s ok.

Maybe there’s a danger in thinking too much, too. If we worry too much about each step, we end up going sideways – we never find out “what if”. I don’t mean the big things either – it’s the countless small things during the day.

Do you reach out to that friend you haven’t heard from for ages? Do you worry that they have too much going on?

It’s the worrying about things you haven’t done because you’re worried what others might think, forgetting that nobody is really that interested in whatever you are doing – they have their own mayhem to navigate.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this.

Maybe all I’m saying is “I’m fine”, “you’re fine”, and “don’t worry – it will turn out alright in the end”. I can’t help smiling to myself now, and adding “if it is not alright, it is not the end”.

Thursday

It’s nearly 10am, and I’m sitting in the variously titled “study” or “junk room” at home, working. I’m a software developer. My job usually involves sitting in front of a computer all day, trying to turn somebody else’s ideas into reality. Sometimes it’s interesting. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s incredibly annoying. I won’t get into why.

I’m listening to Spotify. I made a retro playlist a few weeks ago – it’s playing now. Debbie Gibson is whining about something or other. The start of the song was quite good, but the louder she gets, the more whiney she gets. I’m moments away from clicking the “next track” button. Ah crap. Tiffany is now singing about being “Alone Now”…

The second coffee of the day is sitting next to me on the desk. There are bubbles of fat floating around the rim of the mug – we accidentally bought full-fat milk the other day, and I’m the only person that will drink it. I hate wasting things.

I quite like working from home, but I really need to start doing something about fitness. I haven’t been running for the last few weeks. It’s too tempting to stay in bed until work starts on a morning – especially given that my commute is essentially the six or seven footsteps from the bathroom to the junk room. I think perhaps home working suits some people better than others – even though I think of myself as a black belt at procrastination, I’m also a bit of a lunatic when faced with long and difficult projects – burying myself in them and confounding expectations all around me.

I am often my own worst enemy, because if you continue hitting things out of the park, people begin to expect it.

I resurrected my old Filofax diary the other day. I’m using it alongside the bullet journal at the moment, which I know is a bit mad. The bullet journal records the things I do each day – the filofax records the things coming up in the future. I somehow have always preferred paper over Google Calendar, Outlook, or whatever else.

My coffee is going cold. I should drink it. Heart are now singing Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters. I might have to sit, drink the coffee, and listen.

This post was brought to you by procrastination, and apathy.

Surviving the Day

I started the day with an empty page in my bullet journal, and filled it with tasks as the day went on – the kinds of things you would expect after being out of the loop for a couple of weeks – timesheets to fill out, documents to read, emails to reply to, calls to make.

I admitted to somebody towards the end of the day that I really hadn’t been looking forward to returning, and couldn’t really explain why. I suppose I had grown used to the slower pace of life – it turns out sitting on your arse all day and getting nothing much done is strangely addictive.

I talked to my other half this evening about feeling trapped – stuck in a job that I don’t always like as much as I once did, but having no exit route. I pay the majority of the bills. I keep a roof over our head. I can’t take chances.

Anyway.

I’ve already promised myself to go for a run before work in the morning. Another step back towards normality. I’ll have to get back on the bike again soon too – perhaps alternate running and cycling each day.

I survived the day. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. I got over myself. Go me. I’m now sitting in the dark of the study, wondering about heading to bed soon, listening to Cutting Crew on Spotify. Every time I hear it now, I think of the scene in LEGO Batman when Bruce Wayne meets Barbara Gordon for the first time.

Playing Games

I didn’t post to the blog yesterday, after a “run” of several weeks. I imagine the universe will now fall in on itself. I did begin wondering though – if the kind of feature that announces “woot – you’ve posted 12 days in a row” was designed by psychologists.

I remember reading an article many years ago that lifted the lid on the most successful video games, and boiled them down to their core drivers – the psychological failings they exploit. Pacman, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Tetris all exploit the need to tidy things up – to make order out of chaos. Where it becomes interesting is watching how different people play the same game, and deal with the various disasters that may be thrown at them.

All of the time management games where you take orders, prepare food, and deliver it to customers exploit similar vulnerabilities, and add on the need to be seen by the imaginary bosses and customers to be doing a good job – in increasibly impossible circumstances.

I don’t play those games, because they seem like nothing more than dressed up “stress simulators”. I can’t see the fun in them. That being said, I have sunk untold hours into games like Kerbal Space Programme, where the world models physics, and you have to work within it’s constraints to achieve mostly arbitrary, personal aims – like landing a moon lander, and getting the crew back in one piece. There is no false timeline involved – it’s about planning, invention, knowledge, judgement, and a little bit of coordination. And yes, I have landed Kerbals on the “Mun”, and got them back in one piece.

Seriously – if you have anything to do with education, you need to show your class Kerbal Space Programme. It’s fun. I saw a chart on the online webcomic XKCD, where the author illustrated his knowledge of orbital mechanics – which remained fairly low all the way through college studying astrophysics, but then shot off the chart within days of starting to launch hapless little Kerbals into orbit.

You get to see their little faces via webcam from the pretend space capsules. You become invested in them. One night, we had a huge “houston we have a problem” style accident half-way to the moon, and I stayed up until 2am building a second rocket to go on a rescue mission. I slept well that night, secure in the knowledge that we had left no imaginary person behind.