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Life

Breaking the Cycle

It’s been a week since I last posted. After years writing almost every day, it seems strange – standing at the edge of the blog – rummaging around in my mental bag, looking for some words to contribute. It almost feels like the blog has become this place or person that I’ve had an awkward falling out with, and now I’m not quite sure how to start a conversation.

Perhaps ignoring the atmosphere is the best solution. Ignore the blog while it stares at me tiptoeing around the edge of the room, with “where the f*ck have you been?” written all over its face.

Where have I been?

I was furloughed through the first half of this week. If you’re not entirely sure what that means, it’s pretty straightforward – if you are furloughed, the company you work for forces you to take unpaid leave. Happily, the UK government is paying a large proportion of my salary during the days I am furloughed – a safety net of sorts that has been operating throughout the pandemic. There are strict rules while you are “furloughed” – you cannot work on any paid project work for your employer – but you can undertake “professional development” – training courses, and so on.

Instead of spending the furlough days this week hitting the textbooks, I replaced the roof on our shed. Go me. I thought I might also write some more thoughtful words over at Medium, but that didn’t happen. I’m not sure why. I didn’t go running either – I’m still waiting for my knee to heal properly. It’s been a dispiriting kind of week really.

Anyway. It’s Friday, it’s raining, I’m drinking my second coffee of the day, and some cafe jazz playlist is quietly burbling away in the background. I should probably get on with some work.

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Life

After the Storm

The greater part of this week has been spent submerged in an alien computer system – trying to make head or tail of how it works, how it hangs together, and how I might use it going forwards. There have been times when I wondered how far down the rabbit hole went – if I might see the surface again. This afternoon lightbulb after lightbulb switched on in the depths of my fragmented brain, and launched me back towards the surface. I suddenly have stories to tell co-workers, insights to share, and a brave new world to describe.

It’s a relief.

It’s amazing how much energy you expend when you don’t know where you’re going, or what you’re really doing. Hitting google, textbooks, and discussion forums works to an extent, but the only real escape is via knowledge and experience – and they both have to be earned.

I’m shattered.

I’m finding it difficult to concentrate this afternoon. Having climbed to the top of the first mental hill of many I might face over the coming months, I’m wondering about downing tools for a while. It’s difficult – I become my worst enemy at times like this. Now that I have reached the top of the first hill, I can see the next one. The temptation to set out towards it is enormous.

Perhaps I’ll go and make a coffee.

Categories
Life

Does talent breed laziness ?

I have been head-down with work for the last several days. Being busy is good. Unfortunately the garden has taken its cue to inject anything that will grow with Captain America growth serum. I’m pretty sure we will have mangrove swamps by the weekend. I’ve done a deal with my eldest daughter that if she helps me with the garden, I will take part in the internet art course she started some weeks ago. I’ve already warned her that I’m colourblind, but she hasn’t let that dissuade her.

Being honest, I’ve tried not to do any drawing or painting alongside the children for good reason – if they see what I can do, they will compare themselves against me – it’s happened before and it never goes well (or at least it didn’t when they were younger). I’ve never quite figured out why some kids are enthused when they see talent, and others give up.

I would argue that what I have isn’t talent – it’s the result of hard work. I tend to think being interested in something and working hard will always yield better results than talent. I suppose the reverse should therefore be true – that the most talented are the most lazy. Quite a controversial statement. How many of us have known people that were exceptional at something, but never took advantage of it ? I’ve seen it. I’m betting teachers see it all the time, and it frustrates them enormously.

Anyway.

It’s late. I’m jabbering on about nothing at all (as per usual), and I have work in the morning. Time to go read a book, and fall asleep with it propped on my chest.

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

Pizza and a Movie

I started the week wondering if I would have anything to do – exploring a research and development project, but not having anything concrete to get on with. The entire world seems to be on a go-slow at the moment. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when the world finally wakes from this impenetrable fog. Slowly but surely as the week progressed work appeared. It’s funny how the cogs of the universe work sometimes.

We ordered pizza from a nearby pub that has been delivering during lockdown, and watched a movie tonight. It was a celebration of sorts – the girls came to live with us 13 years ago today. I announced our plans for dinner earlier in the evening, and a cheer rang out throughout the house.

We watched “The Greatest Showman” – the Huge Ackman movie (sorry – Night at the Museum joke). I’ve never been a huge fan of the movie, but will admit to getting sucked into it. I’ve seen it twice now – both times I sat down without really wanting to watch it, and ending up being quite affected.

I’ve been drinking. We ordered a “deal” from the pub – several pizzas, garlic bread, and a bottle of Prosecco. Two glasses – that’s how much it takes these days to make me as giddy as a schoolboy (or a cheap date, depending on how grown up you want your frame of reference).

It’s supposed to snow here all day on Sunday – but before that, we’re getting our twenty ninth year of rain. I imagine we’ll be clearing snow from the escape raft I’ve been planning on building. Seriously though – it rained all day again, and is supposed to rain all day tomorrow too. You would think the weather man would be bored of making all the rain by now.

Anyway. Enough nonsense. I have lots more nothing to be getting on with.

Categories
Life

Tuesday Lunchtime

I had been entertaining the idea of escaping at lunchtime, and going for a walk. A few miles out in the fresh air on my own with a podcast in my ears. The weather has other ideas – it has rained pretty consistently all morning. We are forecast snow next weekend.

I have half an hour of my lunch break left. Half an hour to fall down an internet rabbit hole and get nothing done. Spotify is busing playing “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” from a random playlist chosen to fill the silence.

I switched out the theme of my blog before work started this morning – simplifying it enormously. I’m not sure why. I have a suspicion that most people live in the WordPress or Tumblr interfaces, or email subsciptions anyway – they don’t venture to the web to look at much any more.

Writing over at Medium has kind of dried up for the moment. Probably a good thing, because writing when you have nothing to write about is death to creativity and inspiration. I have no doubt I could churn out cookie cutter articles like many citizen journalists seem to, and make a tidy living from it – I’m not sure I would be able to live with myself though. I would rather tell personal stories than parrot manufactured idiocy.

I’m drinking too much coffee at the moment. I imagine boredom has a lot to do with it. Perhaps I’ll get some ginger tea, and substitute out coffee for a few weeks. While thinking about health, I weighed myself this morning. I’m up three pounds from where I was a couple of months ago. I wonder how quickly I can drop it again? Watch this space.

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Life

An Unexpected Staycation

I have the rest of the week off work!

Because I’ve worked at the same company for years, I’ve pretty much maxed out the holiday allocation – accruing 25 days per calendar year. We have to take Christmas, Easter and so on from the allocation, but still – it amounts to about 4 weeks during the year. On top of that, we are allowed to carry over up to 5 unused days – or up to 10 under extraordinary circumstances.

Long story short – after working on big projects two years running, I arrived at the start of this year with over 30 days in my back pocket.

I’m almost giddy with excitement – it’s still only 9:40am – I’ve tidied the lounge up, cleared the dishes in the kitchen, emptied the dishwasher, and put two loads of clothes through the washing machine already.

I have no plans for the week, short of spending time helping our youngest with home-school work when she needs it, and (apparently) recording a work-out for her PE coursework later. I imagine she’s going to turn into the coach from Glee this afternoon, and laugh at my pathetic attempts to follow instruction.

I’m sitting at the dining room table, surrounded by piles of folded laundry. It seems stunning to me that even though we have gone nowhere and done nothing for months, the washing machine is till being run into the ground every day. I’m starting to wonder if the bottom of the laundry basket is entirely mythical.

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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.