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Life

Not Much of Anything

You find me sitting in the dark of the junk room, trying to switch off at the end of the day. I’m listening to a Carly Simon album, and typing into a minimalist online editor. I sometimes find it difficult to switch off – it’s difficult to stop thinking.

It doesn’t help that with a few days of work left until my vacation, I’m buried in thousands of lines of source code for a new project at work. I need to get it to a “good place” before downing tools on Friday – and I’m not entirely sure how that’s going to happen at the moment.

Of course I’m not really going on a vacation – I’m not going anywhere – it’s more a “staycation”. I’ll promise to read books, watch movies, and lots of other things – and I’ll do none of it. I will go running though, and I will go for long walks. Long walks help with the thoughts.

I must remember to take a notebook on the long walks. I often think of things to write about while out on my own, but almost always misplace the idea before reaching a keyboard.

I often solve computer programming problems while in the bathroom. How does that even work ?

In other news, I made it out for another run this morning. I went on my own, and just ran around town – a couple of miles. I’m still worried about the broken toe and don’t want to push it too much. I tell myself that, but in reality I’ve lost quite a bit of fitness while sitting on my arse for the last month. To be honest I’m stunned I can still run any sort of distance.

Anyway.

It’s getting late. Time to go brush my teeth, and sit in bed scrolling rubbish on a tablet instead of reading the book I purposely took upstairs to read.

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Life

Running Very Carefully

After a month keeping off a very broken toe, I finally got out running again this evening – although perhaps “running” is an exaggeration – more of a gentle jog. I jumped back into the Couch to 5K plan with my daughters, who have advanced all of 1 week since I last ran with them a month ago. The stunning lack of will-power in teenagers astounds me.

I’m so pleased my foot was alright. Strangely, walking hurts more than running. I can finally continue on the path to getting fit once again – and given that I now work from home, it’s become quite a bit more important than it was to at least do something each day.

If I get through this week without any secondary injuries showing up, I’m going to start extending the distance out while I’m off work over the next few weeks. It’s tempting to set goals already, but I really should just see how it goes – see how it feels each day.

Smiling like an idiot this evening.

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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.

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Life

Ends and Beginnings

I visited the office yesterday – for the first time in four months. A flying visit to empty my desk, and collect a monitor and an office chair. The company I work for is finally following the example set by the likes of Automattic, and doing away with the office entirely – at least for the moment.

The convergence of ubiquitous fast internet connections, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and the Corona Virus opened everybody’s eyes to the realisation that we were able to carry on operating very much normally while working from home. I imagine the focus of the management naturally turned to the office, and the question  “why do we have an office?”.

I now have a much better chair in the junk room at home.

I imagine in time the company may end up hiring somewhere more suited to meetings – and we will perhaps gather every few months – mostly to remember what we all look like. While in lockdown I have been the instigator of several “Zoom Quizzes” – open to all staff, and their families. The next quiz happens in a couple of weeks time. After we all emerge from lockdown, I imagine the quizzes might turn into group meals – picking local bars or restaurants to catch up with each other.

It seems strange to think I’m not working in an office any more. I’ve been sitting at a desk most weekdays for the last twenty five years. I suppose I still will – just not in an office. There are already murmurings at home about finally decorating the junk room. If I have to sit here all day every day, it would be nice if it was a little more habitable.

I better turn running and cycling into a much more regular thing too – if I’m not cycling to work and back every day, my backside will develop its own gravity.

In other news, my middle daughter has started studying to become an air traffic controller. It’s surprised all of us. Since discovering the entire damn fool escapade while accompanying me on a virtual flight on the simulator, something switched on in the depths of her brain. She has already enrolled on a training course, and is studying books. Before long, I’ll contact London Centre, and be greeted with my daughter’s bossy voice, instructing me to “maintain flight level two hundred”, and to “put the kettle on Dad”.

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Life

Lunchtime Thoughts

It’s Monday lunchtime, and you find me sitting in the junk room at home. I’ve been here on weekdays since the middle of March. Nearly four months now. The only places I have visited in town during that time have been the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I’ve been on a few long walks (even with a broken toe), which we have dubbed “mental health walks”.

This weekend we visited a national trust property called “Basildon Park”, and wandered around the grounds of the estate for a few hours. We took a picnic, and met my in-laws there. While walking, we viewed any and all strangers with suspicion.

Work has slowed down ever-so-slightly this week. Owing to shortened working hours, and various co-workers being furloughed, I’ve found my days pretty full. Busy is good though. Busy stops you looking at the world around you too much and being horrified at the ignorance, division, and idiocy going on seemingly everywhere.

I’ve quickly learned that it’s best not to have balanced opinions about anything at the moment – there’s a strong sense from the most vocal on social media platforms that if you’re not with them, you are against them – there is no middle ground. Facts, opinions, truth, and lies have been stirred into a toxic stew that is fashioned into whatever narrative people wish to subscribe to or promote. It doesn’t help that “defence of self” is such a strong instinct in the wilfully ignorant.

Anyway.

I’m listening to the “Mellow Morning” playlist on Spotify, complete with adverts every few minutes. Music has been one of the huge benefits of working from home – filling the room with an endless stream of songs and stories. I tent to pick playlists completely at random – and rarely know the names of any of the bands, artists, or tracks. If one of the kids were to walk in and ask after a track (which they will not, because it’s Dad music), I typically wouldn’t be able to tell them.

Time for another coffee perhaps.

p.s. I cut all my hair off again.

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Life

Has it really been a week ?

Has it really been a week since the last blog post? You would think the absence of pretty much anything from me over the last few days would mean an impending avalanche of thoughts, ideas, stories, and idiocy. The truth? I’m coming up blank.

I’m back working full-time now, although still working from home. I’m just taking a bit of a break to write this. It’s funny – as my world slowly returns to normal, I’m starting to realise how much we used to cram into each day – before the whole lockdown thing started. Every day was a sprint, filled with chaos and mayhem. I’m not sure I want to go back to that world now.

I finally got around to booking some holiday yesterday. Although I have been incredibly fortunate to carry on working throughout the pandemic, I looked at the calendar and realised I had only taken a few days off since the start of the year. Even though we’re not going anywhere or doing anything, it will be good to spend some time at home with the kids – to go on walks together, and maybe even start running again.

My foot is slowly healing. If you haven’t read previous posts, I managed to break a toe on my left foot a few weeks ago. There really isn’t anything you can do for broken toes, other than tape them up, and be careful. I’m now into the third week of it healing, and can walk on it without too much pain. I think another couple of weeks and I can try running on it.

I’m still losing weight. I know! I’m as surprised as anybody else. I suppose the main motivation is how annoyed I will be if I gain any weight. For the last month I have dropped one or two pounds every week – purely by not eating snacks between meals, and making sure meals are not ridiculous. According to the NHS body mass index calculator online (which I just looked at), I’m at the high end of the healthy weight range – I need to lose about another 14 pounds. Hopefully by the time my vacation starts, I’ll be getting close to that.

I drank a glass of wine the night before last – the first in several months. Oh my word – it went straight to my head. I actually wondered after drinking it if it’s really worth it – alcohol. There were things I wanted to get on with (I drank it with dinner), and was conscious it was affecting me.

I’m still playing with the aircraft simulator. I did a flight last night with my Dad and his group of friends – taking off from the mountains of Switzerland, and landing at London City airport. It was fun. I still need to study air traffic control procedures (hence the annoyance about wine having an effect), but I’m getting there slowly. My other half thinks the entire escapade is entirely pointless, and feigns a comical level of indifference if I ever mention anything to do with it. She’s probably right, but it keeps me out of mischief.

Oh – just remembered – the Eurovision movie.

We finally got around to watching the Eurovision movie earlier in the week – a day after everybody else went mad about it. We absolutely loved everything about it. I don’t want to go on and on about it, because you can go watch it yourself if you haven’t already – I will submit that I’ve been listening to the soundtrack album on Spotify all week though 🙂

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Life

Out of the Loop

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you find me holed up in the junk room at home, forcing myself to empty my head into the keyboard. The broken toe is slowly healing – doing as little as possible throughout the last week has helped a lot. Fingers crossed, I’ll be back running again by mid August.

It’s incredibly frustrating – my fitness was at about the 5K mark when the accident happened. I imagine it will take a few weeks to get any sort of stamina back after doing nothing for so long. I have started to wonder about doing some upper body workouts in the meantime. It’s all about actually *doing* it though, isn’t it.

Did I write about losing weight? Throughout the lockdown I have cut out snacks and alcohol. To begin with it was to support my eldest daughter who is trying to lose weight, but then the cat ended up in hospital, and now we don’t have enough money for snacks or alcohol – so that kind of solved itself. In the space of a month, I have lost a stone (14 pounds). If I carry on at the current trajectory, by the time I start running again, I’ll be about the same weight I was 20 years ago.

Anyway. I titled this post “Out of the Loop”, because it describes the way I feel at the moment pretty accurately. It feels like I’m slowly falling away from everything I have clung on to for the last however many years. Last week I removed the vast majority of those I had connected with through Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook over the years. I guess the noise just got too much.

I really don’t like the polarisation that’s going on at the moment. Too many people seem to be standing on soapboxes and declaring that if you’re not with them, you’re against them. The easiest way to deal with it is of course to silence it – which you can do with the click of a mouse – and I have.

My email in-box has never been so quiet. I like it.

This evening I’m hoping to sit down with my family and watch the Eurovision movie on Netflix. I watched a clip from it earlier, and became unexpectedly emotional. Oh – completely forgot – I watched a wonderful movie earlier in the week, starring Morgan Freeman as a retired writer living for the summer in a friend’s house, and begrudgingly befriending the family next door. I love quiet movies about ordinary people. It’s called “Once More” – look it up.

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Life

Life Support

It’s nearly a week since my last blog post. In terms of “falling off the blogging horse”, this isn’t so much “fallen off the horse”, as “let the horse free, and haven’t really thought about it since”. I guess you could say the blog is on life support.

Talking of life support, our cat is doing much better. After a couple of weeks locked in the house after two rounds of surgery – wiping out our bank balance in the process – he has had the “cone of shame” removed, and is allowed out in the garden once again. He wasted no time in establishing authority – bullying neighbourhood cats out of the garden one after another. Unfortunately he looks rather comical while doing so – with his back end shaved, he looks kind of like a poor excuse for a miniature lion.

Work continues on. I’m back working full time – although still working from home. For the last few days I have been running training sessions online – helping somebody build a proof-of-concept for something.

When not washing up, washing clothes, or hobbling around the house (my broken toe is getting better – but still hurts like hell), I have carried on playing with the flight simulator. My Dad chipped in to help me buy a new plane for it – knowing we are very very broke at the moment – so now I am busy learning to operate an Airbus A321 – the same kind of plane I have flown on to Germany so many times in the past.

I’ve taken part in several group “flights” now too – organised for the group to fly various simulated aircraft from and to different destinations – on Tuesday night my 16 year old daughter acted as co-pilot while we flew a Boeing 737 from Paraguay to Brazil. Her short term memory is much better than mine, which helps a lot with carrying out air traffic control instructions. For the first time so far, the entire flight went like clockwork – from “cold and dark” at the departure airport, through to power-down at the destination.

She hasn’t seen the Airbus yet.

I watched the horror movie “The Conjuring” with my eldest daughter last night – a supposedly true story about a haunted house in 1970s America. Apparently it’s the first of a series of movies about hauntings. Now I want to watch the rest (but not too late – I’ll never sleep).

Oh. More developments today. The car packed up (broken brake caliper), and my daughter’s car needed a battery replacement. Several hundred further into the red. We’re deep into credit card territory now for the first time ever.

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Life

Friday

For those that don’t know, I very rarely write blog posts straight into the WordPress editor interface – I used to write everything in a text editor, save it into a neat and tidy folder structure, and copy it into WordPress. In recent months (since lockdown, I suppose), I have written in Google Docs, copied the text across.

Why am I writing about it?

Because I’ve had this post sitting on the screen all day – with no more than the title at the top – “Friday”. I typically give all posts the same title when I start writing, and then re-name them when a title presents itself. Quite often the title only relates to the final paragraph.

I don’t really have anything to report. My toe is still broken, the cat still has half his hair shaved off after his most recent hospital adventure, and I find myself becoming increasingly distant from “social” media.

I’m not sure that I’ve given up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on – so much as re-framed what they’re useful for. Or at least, what I find them useful for. I used to see “the social internet” as a way to reach out to the wider world – a way to discover interesting people, make friends, and share a little of each other’s lives. Somewhere along the way that all became somewhat poisonous though – Twitter became a place to stand on soapboxes and shout louder than the next person, Facebook became a place to have bitter disagreements with acquaintances, and Instagram became a place to show off.

I will admit to thinking quite a bit about shutting my blog down, and just reverting to a personal journal. I’ve thought about it before – I’ve DONE it before – but it doesn’t seem to be so much about me changing any more – it’s more about the world changing around me – becoming a little less friendly, a little more abrasive, and a little less welcoming.

I get it. Blogging has ALWAYS been a bit of an odd pursuit – sharing the guts of your day with a nameless audience. It’s just always been something I’ve done though – for twenty years now. I qualify it by telling myself that it helps keep me sane – and yet I filter perhaps half of the words I might share – all the most interesting stuff. The anger, the frustration, the gossip, the scandal, the unpopular opinions – the good stuff.

In other news, I weighed myself this morning. I’ve lost about 18 pounds since lockdown began. It’s not something I’ve done intentionally – we just haven’t bought any junk food for some time. It was mostly about saving money. If I lose another few pounds, I’ll be the same weight I was twenty years ago. Go me (sarcasm intended). I keep telling myself that I feel better for it, but I could murder a chocolate bar.