Categories
Life

Through Caverns Measureless to Man

The internet came of age when I was an impressionable teen. An infinite rabbit hole, filled with ideas, knowledge, thoughts, idiocy, adventure, and everything in-between. Idealism and optimism convinced us that we might find our tribe somewhere deep in the labyrinth, and forge an escape from the world around us.

I still view the internet in rose tinted glasses.

The beginning of a blog post always seems like an opportunity – an empty page, with limitless possibilities. Words that might agree with somebody somewhere, and build an unlikely connection.

The serendipitous discovery of new writers while on expeditions deep in the catacombs of the internet conjures images of Victorian explorers lowering rowing boats from sailing ships to undiscovered countries.

Call me a fool. I will agree with you.

I choose to see a world full of possibility, friendship, and kindness. I choose to ignore the legions of trolls, soap-box politicians, keyboard warriors, and cancel culture mouthpieces that blight the internet I once knew.

The internet is bigger than any one of us. It will still be here when we are gone. We are assembling a treasure trove for future generations of thoughts, ideas, stories, music, and art. It would be a tremendous shame not to take advantage of it.

Categories
Life

Pretending to Fly

When I need to switch off after a week working on software development projects, the flight simulator has become something of a crutch. I suppose in many ways, anything that requires focus and concentration works. You might argue that learning how to operate a commercial airliner is a bit extreme, but somehow it seems to work.

Earlier today I arranged a virtual flight from Melbourne to Sydney in Australia – accompanied by my middle daughter, and my Dad – all via the internet, communicating over the radios, and seeing each other in our virtual worlds.

The photo accompanying the post shows the turn towards one of the “standard instrument approach routes” at Sydney International – with the Warragamba river in the background.

While flying along, making conversation with my daughter and Dad, I wondered how much this might help her sense of the world – of where the big cities are in relation to one-another – of where the various countries of the world are.

Next week a new simulator arrives – “Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020” – after twenty-something years, Microsoft is re-entering the fray, and something like a million people have pre-ordered. I’m on the pre-order list. Here’s the launch trailer:

It’s a little bit unfair in some ways – Microsoft are going to leverage Bing Maps, and Azure AI to generate accurate scenery for the entire planet. For the first time, most people will be able to fly over their own house and actually see it – the temptation to do exactly that as soon as I get it running will be incredibly strong.

Who’s up for some Zoom calls to fly around their neighbourhood – I’ll fly, and follow your directions.

Categories
Life

A Small Cog in an Enormous Machine

I feel a bit like a small cog in an enormous machine at the moment – going round and round, slowly becoming worn, and not going anywhere. I’m sure that’s a metaphor for something or other, but can’t be bothered to connect the dots.

After a spectacular thunderstorm last night, the temperature has finally dropped, bringing an end to the run of hot humid days. Shortly after the sky lit up and the clouds crashed towards the ground, one of our cats ran off into the darkness. We kept the door open for some time, but suspect he has a variety of places where he hides from the world. He re-appeared this morning – sitting in the middle of the kitchen, patiently waiting for somebody to fill his food bowl.

Our other cat – the massive ginger tabby – hid inside the back of the sofa. He’s always been scared of thunder and lightning. I didn’t even know he could still fit through the gap in the stitching.

We didn’t get to bed until perhaps 2am, and then of course I had to get up for work this morning. At least the commute is short at the moment… about five yards from the bathroom, and ten yards from the kitchen.

I’m not entirely sure how I got through the day. Perhaps an early night would be a good idea. We know I’m going to still be here, noodling around with the computer at midnight though, don’t we.

Categories
Life

Heat, Humidity and Lightning

I just looked on the weather app built into Windows 10 – because of course I can’t just look out the window. In the interests of accuracy, it’s 11pm and the temperature is still nearly 30C. Humidity is above 50%. Lightning keeps rolling across the sky, but no thunder yet. I have a fan blowing into the room, but all it’s really doing is replicating a fan oven – making sure I cook evenly. I also have an incense burner filling the room with smoke, mostly to try and persuade flies that they will die if they come anywhere near me – the smell is really a secondary requirement.

I’m sitting in the dark, while Spotify plays “my” playlist – the stream of go-to 80s tunes that kind of form the Forrest Gump soundtrack to my life, thoughts, and day-dreams. At the moment Christopher Cross is singing “Sailing”. Elton will follow him in a few minutes – something about Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters.

I’m wondering about staying up all night watching a movie. It’s too hot to sleep. I wonder if I can find the bootleg version of “Almost Famous” anywhere ? Did you know there are at least three versions of that movie? The Bootleg version adds about half an hour to the cinematic version, and then there’s another version – more of a Director’s Cut – that adds another chunk on – turning an already long movie into a wonderful musical marathon through some of the best songs ever to grace a movie soundtrack.

I think the incense has burned out – how long until the flies start arriving?

It’s been over a week since I last went for a run. It’s just been too damn hot. They said something on the news earlier that it’s the hottest run of consecutive days since records began – and doesn’t look like getting any better for at least a week. I had been entertaining thoughts of running at 6am, but woke this morning before that and it was already 30C, with clear blue skies and no wind. Madness.

I’m still losing weight though – mostly through not eating junk. That being said, I just made myself marmite on toast for supper. The choice might have had something to do with there being nothing else that was easy and fast to make. I need to buy some more cereals in the morning.

Categories
Life

Comfortable in my own Skin

I decided about an hour ago that it might be a good idea to update my profile photo everywhere – to better reflect what I have looked like for the last six months or so. It struck me while posting it that something unexpected has happened in recent times – I have become more-or-less comfortable in my own skin. In my thoughts too. Things haven’t always been this way.

When I was young, I was always the gawky kid that didn’t quite fit in. I found it difficult to make friends, and then difficult to maintain friendships. I thought about things too much – I still do – and worried about perceptions of actions and words by those around me.

I wouldn’t say I’ve started to care less about what other people think – I think perhaps I’ve just become a little more confident that my view or outlook is ok – that I’m not a lunatic or monster. If somebody else wants to have an agenda, or a mission, that’s up to them – we don’t have to share opinions, ideals, or world-views. Differences are almost always what make people interesting, and a chance to learn from. I suppose the only problem with that is the most vocal are often the most resistant to other points of view.

It doesn’t help that historically I have sat on the fence about so many things.

For years if questioned about my religious beliefs, I would say I was agnostic – because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. These days when questioned, I will freely admit that I have no faith or belief in any sort of higher power. That’s not the same as atheism – by the same logic that you can’t prove the existence of a higher power, you can’t disprove it either. Just because you haven’t observed something yet doesn’t mean it’s not there.

A few months ago I probably lost a few friends while defending J K Rowling’s defence of women’s rights, in the face of an opinionated mob weaponising social media against her. When a public response against such attacks on social media was then signed by several hundred of the foremost writers and thinkers of our time, I will admit to exhaling somewhat.

A similar situation happened about a month after the COVID19 pandemic had swept the world. For a time our prime minister was in hospital, being treated for the virus, and the people were behind him. Then slowly but surely, all manner of keyboard warriors and armchair experts started weighing in on every decision, both past and present. I commented about it on Facebook, and spent an afternoon defending even the thought that I might defend our government. Somebody I used to work with eventually saw my point, and commented “see that’s the thing – you’re a nice person – you’re calm, objective, and reasonable – so you expect others to be too”. There were no more comments after that.

Stepping away from blogging over the last few months has caused quite a bit of reflection – about why I write, what I write, and who I write for. Although I have often stated that I write for myself, if you know any sort of audience is out there, it obviously influences you to an extent. I’ve begun to wonder if I now care less about that audience too – not in a bad way – but it’s difficult to express why.

Maybe it’s a realisation that everybody has their own story – their own journey – and it’s not about worrying what others think – it’s more about being true to yourself, and affording others the chance to do the same.

Categories
Life

Monkeys and Music

I was going to go for a run this morning, but after realising the temperature was already nearly 30C at 8am, thought “maybe not”. Any thoughts of running this evening went out of the window when the humidity cranked itself up.

I chopped all my hair off again.

Our daughter has been clearing her bedroom out – which has resulted in my re-acquisition of an amigurumi monkey that my other half made me about fifteen years ago. He’s never had a name – he’s sitting on my desk now, under the desk lamp. It looks like he’s sitting under a sun lamp, working on his tan.

I’ve been listening to music all week while working. Loud music. I think this is probably a reaction to having my own work-space – we were never allowed music in the office. Now I have a continual stream of whatever music I want. After a few days listening to 80s stuff I started to get a bit bored of it, but a happy accident landed a new Alanis Morrissette album in front of me via Spotify, and then Wilson Phillips randomly made an appearance.

Oh, how I used to adore Wilson Phillips. Can’t imagine why 🙂

Categories
Life

Slogging

Today was difficult. The design of something I have been working through for the last few days got ripped out from under my feet, and changed – causing a lot of re-work. I guess this is the reality of not wearing all the hats on a project. Not fun.

Anyway – I’m not supposed to write about work. It’s probably unprofessional. I need to learn about not being the project owner, and letting go – not worrying about timescales, deadlines, budgets, and outcomes. All I can really do is my best.

It took three (small) glasses of wine this evening to realise that all I can do is my best.

I’m now sitting in the junk room listening to loud music, and writing this. While writing, I’m downloading a load of music to put on the music system I inherited from our daughters. They are all decorating their rooms, which means I inherit everything they no longer want. I wonder if they’ll realise at some point that a music system sounds FAR better than a mobile phone ?

After I write this I’m going to get into a pretend aeroplane, and go for a fly. It helps take my mind off things.

I wonder if we have any chocolate anywhere? And I wonder how far I might run in the morning ?

Categories
Life

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.

Categories
Life

Losing Myself in Music

It’s the final night of my staycation. I return to work in the morning – if you can call it returning. I’ll be sitting in the same chair I’m sitting in now, in the same room – just with a different computer in front of me.

I didn’t go running much during the staycation. I didn’t read any books. I didn’t do a lot of things.

It’s weird – bringing yourself back up to speed after slowing down for so long. I wouldn’t say there’s really a fear of what I might walk into tomorrow, but there’s certainly a good amount of trepidation. I’m trying not to think too much about it – I have at least a couple of hours left to bury my head in the sand.

I’m thinking a couple of hours losing myself in Spotify might help somehow. I deleted all of my playlists some time ago – thinking it was time to discover something new – to stop living in a 1980s bubble. I’m thinking it might be time to visit again though – to listen to the music that made me who I am, and probably continues to do so.

Heart, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Starship, John Parr, Mr Mister, Wang Chung, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Thompson Twins, Go West, Rush, Thomas Dolby, OMD, Tears for Fears, Simple Minds, Peter Gabriel, Ultravox… the list goes on.

Feel free to reach out and distract me – the contact page tells you how 🙂