Categories
Life

Choose Your Poison

A few nights ago I heard a mouse running around in our attic. I’m guessing it came in from the houses alongside, and I’m guessing it’s not alone.

I spent an hour delving around in the attic on Friday night, and found nothing chewed up. That doesn’t mean I haven’t unleashed hell on our little visitor(s).

Five poison bait traps went into the attic on Friday night after my inspection. Three of them have been nibbled at as of this morning. I have enough bait to keep re-filling them for weeks, and will buy more if needed. If they eat eat any, they are dead inside 48 hours.

We joked about constructing a route for the cats to get into the attic – my eldest daughter proposed shutting them up there, and letting nature take it’s course. I think the cats already know the mice are up there – they’ve taken to camping out on the landing, below the loft hatch. I’m guessing they can both hear, and smell them.

If not for camping kit, and old childrens clothes being stored in the attic, I wouldn’t be too worried. I really don’t want all the sleeping bags chewed up though. Fingers crossed we wipe them out before anything too valuable gets damaged.

p.s. just ordered an ultrasound deterrent, to hopefully keep them away in the longer term.

Categories
Life

Nowhere on Purpose

I’ve been sitting in front of the computer all afternoon, reading, tinkering, playing chess, and falling down internet rabbit holes. While sitting here, there’s been an uneasy sense that I should be doing something more constructive with my time. Something worthy.

Maybe there’s value in doing nothing sometimes. Switching off.

Perhaps a night of video games might help. I can’t remember the last time I played Galaxians, Asteroids, Pacman, Mario, and Sonic.

Categories
Life

Rockstar Lifestyle

It’s 11pm on Friday night, and I’m the last person awake in the house. All I can hear is the blood pumping through my ears, and the rattle of the keyboard as I type these words.

The groceries arrived a little earlier this evening. We have started ordering extra with each delivery to make it through Christmas. Suddenly there are nice things appearing in the cupboards that we haven’t had for months – the challenge is of course to leave the nice things alone for a few more weeks.

I went for a run at lunchtime, and surprised myself. I really didn’t feel great, but somehow did another five kilometres. Unfortunately the mobile phone app I use to record the runs lost it’s mind, and recorded the strangest GPS track I’ve ever seen. At one point I appeared to be running faster than an express train, smashing through houses and gardens throughout the town. The mobile app seemed to realise it was having an episode, and flagged the run afterwards with a “there might be something wrong with this” remark.

No shit, Sherlock.

My only remaining plans for the day involve the latest episode of The Mandalorian, and then sleep. Maybe a few pages of “The Queen’s Gambit” too. The book feels different enough than the TV series that it’s still interesting. I’m having to stay away from “Ready Player Two” in the Amazon store – I suspect the hardback may arrive on Christmas morning.

Categories
Life

Two Worlds

A few days ago I was approached at work – along with everybody else – about writing occasional blog posts for the company website. The posts will be shared with the wider world through LinkedIn – I’m guessing the company is going to start playing the social game.

My first thought was to spin up an instance of Ghost for myself (a very nice web publishing platform), post some writing to it, and then share it with the company I work for. While thinking about doing so, doubts began to emerge. If I run my own website, I need to look after it.

Instead of building something new, I walked over to Medium, and posted a few words. Sure, Medium has it’s detractors – mostly related to their method of monetising content – but I don’t have to look after it, which is kind of huge. I’m still not sure I’m doing the right thing though.

So anyway – I’m sort of writing syndicated content all of a sudden. Alongside this almost daily head emptying routine, I’m trying to think of insightful, interesting, engaging things to say about the one thing I never talk about here – my work. I think it’s going to be fun – certainly a good diversion for the moment.

I suppose the problem comes when the company realises I can string words together, and writing will become a part of my job – which is exactly when all the perceived “fun” will vanish without trace.

Categories
Life

Running on my Own

At dinner yesterday evening, my middle daughter put all sorts of plans in place to go running several times a week before college. I suggested I could go with her at perhaps 6:30am each morning – she suggested 6am. I rolled my eyes, and agreed.

After setting my alarm last night, and waking up at 6am, I rolled out of bed, pulled on some running shorts, and wandered over to her bedroom doorway. No response. I went downstairs, downed a glass of water, found my running shoes and coat, and got ready. Twenty minutes later, I made a final call. Still no answer.
I left the house at 6:30am on my own.

The last few runs have only been a couple of kilometres. I took it slowly (or so I thought), and headed out across town on the route that adds up to a little of five kilometres – listening to podcasts along the way. I shook my head at the coincidences that happen to me when out running – I think Chaos mathematicians would describe me as a “strange attractor”. I can be in the middle of nowhere, and not have seen a car for ages – but as soon as I need to set foot in the road, to pass a construction site, for example – cars will appear from all directions, at the precise point where the road is at it’s narrowest. It happened four times in five hundred yards this morning – the final instance nearly getting me run over.

I’m trying desperately to turn running into a habit. At the moment it’s still a victory of sorts for the “what you need to be doing” part of my brain over the “what you would like to be doing” part. I would like to have still been in bed. I did it though. Five and a half kilometres, with no “cheating” (no walking). Of course now I’ll be tired all day, but that’s a small price to pay in the good fight against having a backside the size of pluto.

Categories
Life

The Day Alexa Landed in my Parents House

The day has been never ending. At one point I was on a conference call with work, the home phone rang, my mobile rang, somebody came to the door, and then my Dad called on the Amazon Echo in the kitchen – all within two or three minutes.

The Amazon Echo debacle is pretty funny now – it wasn’t at the time.

My Dad bought an Amazon Echo. To configure an Amazon Echo to use as a phone, it authenticates in the same way as WhatsApp – you need a mobile phone, with a contact list containing all the people you might want to contact through it (you can use an Echo like a phone, if you’re wondering where this is going). This is all straightforward, if you (a) setup the Echo in the first place, (b) put your own mobile phone number in the Echo mobile app correctly, and (c) have the correct mobile phone numbers of your friends and family in your phone. My Dad had none of these things. It took 24 hours to get to the bottom of it.

You should have heard him when it finally worked though. His voice burst out across our kitchen – “ARE YOU THERE?” – it was like some sort of dimented seance. He started giggling. I had to explain that I was already on a call with work in the other room. I called him back half an hour later, and had a ridiculous shouted conversation across our kitchen, and his.

I know my Dad. I’m wondering how many days until he has Echo Dots around the entire house, Phillips lightbulbs, a Firestick, and who knows what else. I imagine his “Alexa” will have to enter some sort of abuse recovery programme, given the amount of swearing she will be subjected to.

Categories
Life

Running, Chocolate, Alcohol, and Coffee

There is an X-Box 360 tucked away under the desk. It’s wired up, but nobody ever plays with it. I’ve just chanced upon the best life-hack ever with it though – if I glance my leg against it, it powers up and becomes the most over-engineered foot-warmer in the history of anything, ever. Seriously – it’s perfect – the cooling fans pour hot air from it’s side – directly onto my bare feet.

What else has been going on? Not much, to be honest. I went for a run first thing this morning. My eldest daughter was supposed to come with me, but pretended to be asleep when I looked in on her. I only ran a few kilometres, and felt surprisingly OK at the end – which then of course translated into feeling bad that I had not run further. I’m my own worst enemy.

This evening I returned into town in search of snacks and alcohol. We have had little or no junk in the cupboards for weeks – restricting grocery shopping to planned meals. It felt like Christmas, wandering the supermarket late in the evening with my youngest daughter in-tow, filling a basket with crisps, chocolate, and alcohol. I bought a bottle of Sherry, and told myself it was for Christmas. There’s no way it’s going to last until Christmas – I’ve already poured myself a small glass.

I picked up a box of Kinder chocolate eggs while in the supermarket. For those in the USA (where they are banned), they are chocolate eggs, containing a plastic egg, with a small toy to construct inside. I’m guessing they fail health and safety rules in the US – where greedy kids might try and eat the enormous plastic egg, and choke to death – you know, like nobody else in the entire world ever has. Anyway – after giving them out when we returned home it was like the kids were five years old all over again – quietly huddled around the table eating the chocolate, and building the toys. We “won” a small plastic dinosaur, several toy cars, and a crocodile that squirts a thimble-full of water when squeezed.

I just downed a cappuccino – purely to counter the alcohol. I’m not sure if it’s a “growing up” thing (finally!), but while I like the immediate affect alcohol has – knocking the edge off a rough day, for example – I’m not a fan of not being able to concentrate, or think properly. I never learn though. I wake up with a headache, and think “why did I do that?” – but of course the headache vanishes by lunchtime, and then after a crappy day a glass of something nice seems like a good idea again. It’s worth pointing out that it’s rare for me to go and buy alcohol – if we have it, I will have a glass – if we don’t, I usually can’t bothered. Tea and coffee, all the way.

Anyway. Enough of this nonsense. I have the most recent episode of the Mandalorian to catch up with.

Categories
Life

Second Coffee

It’s mid-morning on Friday, and I’m taking a break from everything for a few minutes. I’m about to go and put the kettle on in the kitchen, and make a second coffee for the day. I’m one of those annoying people that can take or leave most things – I tend to drink instant coffee at home because it’s cheap, even though we have a perfectly working Tassimo coffee machine.

I’ve been working on a client system throughout much of the week – making changes, fixing bugs – that sort of thing. It’s a “head down, get it done” kind of activity that becomes all-consuming while you’re doing it. The client fills a wish list of changes over the course of several weeks, and I look in on the first morning of each “sprint” (sometimes months apart) – that first look is always somewhat stressful – I’m not sure why. I guess I’ve never really stopped doubting my own ability. Maybe it’s a “meeting expectations” thing.

Anyway.

I’ve agreed to a late lunch, and a walk into town with my eldest daughter later. It will be the first time I have set foot in town for over a week. The first time I have ventured further than the corner shop to buy cereals. For the last several weeks, the only other humans we have seen have been delivery drivers – dropping off groceries, and parcels. Perhaps it’s too easy to fall inwards, and close off from the world. I’m guessing everybody is going to struggle when the world opens back up.

Categories
Life

Every Other Day

I seem to have fallen into a pattern of sorts – posting every other day. I’m not quite sure how it happened – it certainly wasn’t intentional. Today’s post is brought to you from Evernote by the way. I used to keep all of my notes, drafts, ideas, and thoughts in Evernote. I’m not really sure why I stopped using it – it’s very good.

For the last few years I have been writing blog posts in a variety of text editors – in markdown format – and saving them into a folder structure. If you’ve never heard of markdown, it’s the simple system used by journalists and typesetters (do they even call themselves typesetters any more?) to mark up bold, italic, headings, and so on without having to use a fully blown word processor. The text files are backed up to a private source code repository at Github – I make no apologies for this – it’s a tool I use a lot at work, and I just know how it works.

If I was writing a novel, I imagine something like Github would be really useful – you can save changes endlessly to a collection of files, and it keeps a detailed audit of what has changed over time – you can compare any two versions of a file, or files, and visually see the differences – what was removed, what was added, what changed. It’s really useful for software development, and probably something of an untapped resource for writers.

The clever bit about the likes of Github is you can other services off of them. If I was so inclined, I could have a website automatically build itself after I check in any writing. Sure, it requires a bit of planning and tinkering first, but it’s doable.

ANYWAY!

Enough geekery. Nobody wants to read a blog post about blogging. I’ve certainly written THAT before. Perhaps an early night might be an idea. A break from the desk, the chair, and the computer screen. It feels like I’ve been sitting here for a week (I HAVE been sitting here for a week).

I still haven’t gone running.