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Life

Turning into a Cat

I think I’m turning into a cat. You know how cats have favourite places to curl up or “be” that last for a few days at a time, before they move on to somewhere else? I’m like that with writing. For a while I was writing at Evernote, then a text editor for a little while, then Notion, and now I’m back at Google Docs, where I’ve been writing on-and-off for years.

Google Docs is the easy option for me. It satisfies the paranoid part of my brain that says “what if the computer goes bang in the middle of your Pulitzer prize winning blog post?” – because it saves every word as I write it. Of course this is predicated on the idea that what I’m writing has literary value (I’m humble enough to realise that I’m only a legend in my own lunchtime).

It’s Sunday morning. The clock is just ticking past 10am. I’ve been up for the last hour – emptying the dishwasher, clearing the kitchen up – the usual chores around the house. I didn’t have a shower this morning, and now feel grubby. I usually have a shower every morning – it helps wake me up. I’m not going anywhere or doing anything today, so thought “what’s the point?” – it’s not like I smell or anything. I will admit to washing my face with soap and cold water after brushing my teeth though – to try and wake myself up. It sort of worked.

I need to head out to the corner shop soon – we’ve run out of bread. It’s kind of difficult to make toast without bread – almost as bad as the time our middle daughter made a cup of tea for her Mum after we ran out of teabags. She didn’t let the lack of tea stop her – proudly delivering a cup of hot watery milk. She was only about seven years old at the time.

Anyway.

Time to go find my shoes and socks. At least it’s not raining today (yet).

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Life

Reorganising my Life

For the last few months I’ve been experimenting with an online swiss-army-knife called “Notion”, that allows you to record notes, compile databases of information, and so on. It has a wonderful interface, and can be transformed to solve most use-cases – a veritable rabbit hole that promises all sorts of productivity games. I started using it for more and more bits and pieces of my life – storing blog blog posts, writing articles, keeping code snippets, and so on.

And then it went down. For almost an entire day. With no updates from the management team. At all.

So yesterday evening I started migrating everything away from Notion. Initially I thought about returning to Evernote – and even tweeted about it – but then faced an uphill battle in terms of importing existing posts without having to laboriously re-format writing for hours. After trying several different workarounds I gave up, and turned my gaze to Google Drive.

Sure, Google Drive has it’s problems – nothing’s perfect – but for most of the things I do, it’s “good enough”. I’ve migrated all my old blog posts across, all of my technical notes, and all of the other bits and pieces that were stored in either Notion or Evernote. Google Drive has become my “one place to rule them all” – for now.

I need to stop playing with shiny new toys on the internet, and just live with the core few things I trust. At the moment that’s all the Google apps – from Mail, to Calendar, Keep, Drive, and Photos. Just recently I’ve been using Google Meet for family video calls – it’s every bit as good as Zoom or Facebook Messenger, and is free.

Earlier today I walked into town with my youngest daughter on a grocery shopping expedition. The first in several weeks. We get most of our food delivered via local farms and produce delivery businesses – but there are certain things you can’t easily get for them – important things – like peanut butter, and chocolate spread.

We’ve been ordering some things in bulk from Amazon “subscribe and save” – and had been thinking about buying instant cappuccino in a huge tin, but after doing the math, it turns out buying small boxes of instant coffee when it’s on offer is cheaper than buying in bulk. I hate it when brands do that kind of counter-intuitive idiocy. They must think people were born yesterday (perhaps some people don’t think when looking at prices).

Anyway. Dinner will be ready in a minute. Time to go set the table.

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Life

Saturday

I started writing this post on Thursday, and provisionally titled it “Thursday”. I got no further than writing the title before I was called away. I then re-opened it on Friday evening, and got as far as re-titling it “Friday” before being called away again. Let’s hope the third re-titling leads to more than just the title being written. It’s looking good so far.

It’s been a bit of a day.

Since moving into our house a little under 20 years ago, a walk-in cupboard has existed in the corner of the kitchen that has become the classic Monica junk cupboard (you need to have seen a specific episode of Friends to get the joke). Well today that cupboard no longer exists – where it once stood we now have a neat, tidy larder.

I spent much of the day fixing plaster, re-painting, and putting shelves up – covering an entire wall with shelving. I have some skin missing on a palm, and a pretty good spinter buried in a finger to deal with, but otherwise – just glad to have gotten it done.

I guess the idea is to get rid of much of the food from the kitchen cupboards, and use them for saucepans, and so on. Like most families, we end up with tins and jars of this and that buried at the back of cupboards for months or years – and they end up being thrown away. Hopefully having all the food in sight will stop that happening.

It took our eldest daughter no time at all to realise she can visit the new food store without being spotted walking past the living room doorway.

(ten minutes pass while I fall down a Spotify rabbit-hole, adding a number of playlists to my short-list)

We signed up for a family plan on Spotify this week. Having gone nowhere and done nothing for a year, and in spite of spending more than the price of a car to save the cat’s life, we have somehow managed to put some money back in the bank. A family spotify account was suddenly affordable. I think the kids are just happy that their Echos can now find anything and everything they might ask them to play.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go find the cereals (if they have not been hidden in the new food cupboard), and make myself some supper.

I promise to write a less pedestrian post soon.

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”…

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Life

Friday

It’s Friday afternoon, with a bank holiday weekend stretched out ahead. I’m just taking a break from work for a few minutes to write this. It’s been a strange sort of week – filled with source code, testing, integration, head scratching, and quite a lot of frowning.

Rain is gently falling outside. Late yesterday the rain arrived suddenly – with a flash of lightning and clap of thunder. The internet connection dropped out instantaneously, and didn’t return for half an hour. It dropped out again earlier today for half an hour or so. I took it as a sign, and stopped for lunch.

I’m looking forward to a relaxed few days off, but fear that might not happen. The inlaws are visiting over the weekend at some point for lunch – and the lounge is filled with six months worth of things not put away by the rest of the family. I imagine tempers will flare on the part of everybody involved when asked to do something about it. We have somehow amassed more jigsaws and board games than most large toy shops, and my other half has slowly transferred more crafting projects than I knew existed in the universe into the lounge.

I sometimes wonder how the kids would react if I picked up the various things they have left on the floor, and threw them as hard as possible at the wall… cups, plates, mugs, glasses – all of it – smashed to bits in front of them. Shoes and clothes thrown directly into the rubbish bin. They would end up in their underwear, eating directly from saucepans with their bare hands within days.

I’m listening to Spotify again. Idina Menzel today. I haven’t listened to her in a while. She’s singing “I see you”. It’s kind of wonderful.

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Life

A Walk in the Park

We went for a walk this afternoon in Basildon Park – about an hour from home. Perhaps the highlight of the walk was a dragonfly deciding to land on my knee while sitting on a bench, waiting for the rest of the family to catch up.

Quite how my family manage to walk so slowly is a complete and utter mystery to me – I walked with our youngest daughter, and tried to stay at the back to avoid leaving everybody behind, but time and time again we found ourselves in front, with nobody in sight behind us. It became a running joke.

We filled our pockets with acorns along the way – with plans to plant them all over the garden. If there’s anybody here in perhaps two hundred years time, they might wonder where the hell all the oak trees came from.

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Life

It’s a Serious Business

Somehow it’s already the first of August. How the hell did that happen? You know how you’re about to step in a huge dog turd, and you notice at the last moment, and do an enormous step? It feels like the world did that between February and August.

For the first few months of lock-down, we saved SO much money – thousands – and then of course the cat got sick, and wiped out his own insurance, and all of our savings. I guess I can look back at the last few months and realise that I’m lighter and fitter than I was – although I haven’t run for the last few days. I really need to get out tomorrow morning for a run.

Today I seem to have the beginnings of a cold. I’m crossing my fingers that it isn’t. I’m wondering if it’s down to a friend visiting unannounced yesterday afternoon. Our entire house has been in lock-down since February, with only two small groups of friends, and my in-laws visiting throughout (and even then, they were all outside). Yesterday a friend visited, and sat in the lounge with the rest of the family, completely ignoring any sort of social distancing. I made myself immediately scarce, because I didn’t want to have the awkward “um, what they hell?” conversation.

Lots of hot tea, and an early night ahead for me.

In other news, we started watching “The Umbrella Academy” the other night – and even after one episode, I began thinking “here we go – another comic book story where the world is supposed to end, except they’ll save it just in time, and fight with each other along the way”. There’s a part of me that longs for a Star Trek episode where they crew meet something in the first five minutes of the episode that completely and utterly wipes them out, and the series ends, right there. The galactic version of the Spanish encountering the Mayans. That’s a bit dark, isn’t it.

I ended up re-watching the first few episodes of “Halt and Catch Fire” late last night – to remind myself just how good it was. I might have to go back and watch Mr Robot too – although once the suspense and misdirection has gone, a lot of it’s draw will be removed.

I’m still bitter that “The OA” got cancelled.

Over the past few weeks – while not blogging – I’ve carried on with the flight simulation idiocy. I’m a pretty proficient pretend Boeing and Airbus pilot now. I have no doubt these skills will come into play one day while travelling with work, as a gorgeous, panic stricken air hostess runs down the aircraft and asks “DOES ANYBODY KNOW HOW TO FLY A COMMERCIAL JET?”. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it while shaking like a leaf, with pee in my shoes though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more tea to drink. It’s a serious business, this tea drinking lark.

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Life

Fourteen Days

I have the next two weeks off work. Ten working days. Fourteen days in all. It all seems a bit giddy at the moment, although I’m mindful of a conversation with my brother-in-law earlier today, who has just had two weeks off – “I looked forward to it for ages, and then before you know it, it’s gone, and you realise you have to go back to work in the morning”.

I’m going running first thing tomorrow. I was supposed to go today, and woke up in time – but then fell asleep, and then the bed seemed warm, and comfy, and… well I just didn’t get up. It’s funny – while laying there, gazing at the ceiling, I quietly became annoyed with myself. I could have been up, out, running, doing chores, clearing the decks, and whatever else – instead I daydreamed, and did nothing – for nearly an hour.

Maybe I should give myself a pass from time to time. It’s incredibly rare that I sit and do nothing. I’m starting to realise that this whole slow-down on the blog can mostly be explained by the world slowing down during lockdown. Suddenly there was no reason to be running here, there and everywhere to get this done, that done, and the other done. Slowing down made me realise that I didn’t HAVE to do all the things I had been doing – and that included emptying my head into the blog each day.

Of course I substituted blogging for something else. Something tremendously useless in the grand scheme of things – I learned to fly a Boeing 737, and an Airbus A320 in a study-level simulator. If I’m ever sat near the flight deck of a commercial airliner in the future, and a member of the cabin crew runs down the cabin looking panic stricken, I can put my hand up. “Yes, I can fly a pretend one of these – I’ve logged several tens of hours, and not crashed one yet – but there was that time I nearly froze all the pretend passengers to death after forgetting to route warm air into the cabin…”

I can even re-programme the damn route into the flight computer. Yes, I’m THAT guy.

Anyway.

Tomorrow morning I’m getting up bright and early, and going for a run around town. My eldest daughter has indicated she would like to come too. I’m not banking on it. I told her I will knock on the door in the morning, but if she doesn’t emerge in her running kit by 8am, tough luck. Yes, I’ve become THAT Dad too.

Maybe I should blog my way through the fourteen day staycation. It will give me something to do – to distract me – to occupy my mind.

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Life

Surprises on Sunday

It’s Sunday morning (or rather, what’s left of Sunday morning). We are heading out in an hour or so to a surprise destination with the kids. The local rugby club has started serving a barbecue at weekends, with socially distant tables, and an outdoor bar. You have to book tickets in advance, and we have a family ticket!

Somehow we have managed to keep the nature of the surprise a secret from the kids – I’m not entirely sure how, because they are usually pretty relentless when any sort of secret involved.

So what’s been going on for the last few days?

We went out yesterday to a Natural Trust property called “Hughenden Manor” – the home once upon a time of Benjamin Disreali – the prime minister during Queen Victoria’s reign. There are several options for walks around the grounds – we chose the longest option, which added up to about five miles through fields, woods, and riversides. For the most part we saw nobody throughout the afternoon – until we reached a riverbank near the end, and discovered a sizeable group of covidiots.

You can tell covidiots from a mile off – they visit places, but can’t be bothered to walk any distance, so congregate at the closest point to the entrance – happily infecting each other. We kept a very wide berth from them. While wandering past, not quite believing what we were seeing, I saw two teenage boys under an old oak tree by the riverbank. While everybody else enjoyed the sunshine, the river, nature, fresh air, and their own ignorance, the two teenagers hid under a tree in the dark with a bluetooth speaker, trying to record TikTok videos of each other.

I wonder what the TikTok generation will do when it gets banned? Move on to the next thing I suppose.

The rest of this week has been consumed with work – a major project is kicking off. I’ll only be involved for the next few days though – I have two weeks leave booked. I found myself  in the crazy situation of not having taken any leave all year, and found myself with 24 days to use up in three months. I booked the last two weeks of July off as project managers were trying to schedule me, and still find myself with a number of days left, and no easy way of using them up. I’m allowed to carry ten days into next year, but that still leaves almost a week. I’m going to be furious if I lose them – particularly as I’ve essentially worked straight through the COVID19 period – while many co-workers were furloughed.

Anyway.

I better go get ready for the surprise outing.