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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.

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Life

Alone in the Dark

I’m sitting alone in the living room lit only by a lamp in the far corner, throwing long shadows across the room. A classical music radio station is quietly filling the room with a rather sombre cello.

My daughters are taking turns to play “The Sims” on the big computer in the study – a very modern take on a dolls house, as far as I can tell. My other half is asleep in bed – she came home from work with a monstrous headache. Of course I started counting symptoms immediately. Hopefully it’s just a headache.

Claire de Lune just started playing, by Claude Debussy. Claire de Lune always reminds me of the final scene of the movie “Frankie and Johnny”. If you’ve not seen it, I dare not say a word about it – apart from perhaps “wonderful”, “wonderful”, and “wonderful”.

There should be a list somewhere of final scenes of movies that remind us that the world isn’t all bad. Frankie and Johnny would be on it – and “As Good as it Gets”. That scene where they buy bread from the bakery…

Anyway. Enough of this nonsense. I have lots more nothing-at-all to be getting on with.

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Life

Coffee and Spotify

It’s Sunday afternoon, and you find me tapping a few words into the blog, accompanied by a cup of coffee, and the Starbucks “Global” playlist on Spotify. I tend to drink instant coffee at home – because it’s cheap. A lot of my decisions at the moment seem to be based around things being either free, or inexpensive.

Anyway.

Where has the weekend gone so far ?

I re-installed my trusty laptop with Ubuntu Linux last night – or rather, I partitioned it. All that means is I get to choose which universe my laptop lives in when I power it up – the Windows-verse, or the Linux-verse. I won’t preach about Linux – suffice to say it “just works”, and appeals to the anarchic side of my personality.

I started reading the book “The Queen’s Gambit” late on Friday night – and got through the first chapter. Having watched the TV series on Netflix, it’s interesting to return to the book and find out how it differs.

We took part in an online quiz last night to support some friends. They were fundraising for the church they go to, and even though I don’t have a religious bone in my body, I thought “what the hell”. I just switched off when they did the hard sell for donations (we donated a small amount in order to take part in the quiz).

The quiz was fun – if only because we drank two bottles of wine, and ate our body-weight in snacks. We ran two Zoom sessions – one with the quiz masters, and one with some friends that live across the road – conferring about answers along the way. Here’s the thing – most of the teams averaged perhaps 75% scores across the rounds – but one team scored nearer 95%. Now I’m not going to point the finger and accuse anybody of cheating, but when you get a third of the way into the quiz and realise it’s not worth trying, it’s a bit of a poor show really.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my coffee has run out.

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Life

Reinstalling

Deep breath. This is going to get very nerdy, very quickly. I’ll just get it over with, shall I?

I’m currently waiting for our youngest daughter’s laptop to re-install itself. It received a pretty major upgrade earlier today – quadrupling it’s memory. I also bought an SSD to go inside it, but having disassembled it earlier this evening, discovered that the manufacturers quite bizarrely included the housing for the SSD, but no connector on the motherboard. As a result, rather than getting a shiny new build of Windows 10 (which I already tried, and works fine), she’s getting Ubuntu Linux instead. The reason? Linux will run faster, and all she really needs is a web browser for school work.

Fingers crossed.

In other news, I’m kind of glad it’s finally the weekend. I’m planning to go for a run first thing in the morning, and then maybe wander down to the park. I’m going early, because if you leave it too long the Covidiots will arrive en-masse, like last weekend.

I bought the book “The Queen’s Gambit” from Amazon earlier – it’s waiting on my Kindle to be read. It cost 99 pence. The TV series was wonderful – I’ve been wondering about the book it was based upon for the last couple of weeks. It will keep me going until Ready Player Two arrives – a couple of weeks away, if memory serves.

I suppose really I should put Ready Player Two on my Christmas list. It’s the sort of thing the kids would probably like to get me for Christmas.

My thoughts seem so disjointed and random at the moment – like I’m some sort of scatter-gun random conversation generator. A broken bot. I was going to suggest to myself that sitting in a coffee shop away from everybody and everything might be an idea, but that probably results in sitting in a hospital bed within a few days.

How is it already 11pm? Where did the entire evening go? Oh yes – the laptop. Maybe it’s time for a coffee.

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Life

The Incredible Vanishing Man

I went for a run this morning. I would like to tell you that it was easy, and I felt great, and “go me!”. In reality it was hard work, I felt like crap, and I nearly passed out within sight of the house on the way home.

Go me though!

After having a shower – having not done any physical exercise for nearly three weeks – I got on the scales and looked at them through the gaps between my fingers. Almost unbelievably, I have lost more weight – despite a diet of utter rubbish just recently. I ate an entire packet of chocolate cookies to myself the other day. I’ve been eating chocolate spread on toast for breakfast and supper, purely because we ran out of cereals, and I couldn’t be bothered to go and get any more.

AND I LOST WEIGHT?!

I really don’t get it.

The really odd thing about running is I quite like it. I become lost in the breathing, and the rhythm of my feet on the ground. I typically listen to podcasts while running – and become frustrated with my cheap-ass bluetooth earbuds that fall out of my ears after the first mile or two.

This morning while running I listened to “The Retro Hour”, where they talked about the new Raspberry Pi computer. I want one. I don’t need one, but I want one. I doubt I’ll get one, because it turns out food and electricity are more important than toys.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make a coffee – because who likes sleep anyway?

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Life

In Search of Distraction

It’s been a strange sort of day – proof reading documents, checking, modifying, reading again. Hopefully I’m nearing the end of the journey I’ve been on in recent weeks, and will soon begin looking for the next.

I can feel myself turning inwards at the moment. Not necessarily shutting myself off from the world – just stepping away from the noise for a while. Gathering my thoughts. Quietly watching the rest of the world unfold.

I took my daughters for a walk to the park yesterday morning, paid for by the promise of coffee. Little did we know our journey would become so trecherous. When will people learn about wearing face coverings, and social distancing ? You might have thought a second national lockdown would jog some sort of recognition. Apparently not.

Perhaps an hour of Mario or Sonic will help slow the cogs a little.

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Life

A Whole New World

Perhaps it says something that even half a world away, I have been unable to distract myself from the United States election for the last several days. I have family in America, and know countless others across the country. I have somehow become invested in their hopes over the last few years. They say adversity brings people closer together – perhaps that’s why I have felt their hopes so keenly.

I have been watching a number of news networks throughout the week to get a balanced view, and was impressed by one in particular. Their host didn’t hold back when the projected result was announced – unleashing thoughts so many around the world had kept to themselves for so long.

An end to the bullying, the bitterness, the lying, the cheating, the abuse, the nastiness, the baseless accusations… I could go on. He did. I agreed with every word of it.

History will not judge Donald Trump kindly. He will be remembered for mocking a disabled person in front of a jeering crowd. He will be remembered for locking children in “very clean” cages. He will be remembered for the countless thousands of lies, for his lack of tact, kindness, and candour – and for his total lack of empathy. He will be remembered for cruel jokes, corruption, ignorance, and nepotism.

He will be remembered for so many things, and yet the world will also forget him. People will get on with their lives, and move on. People have an uncanny knack of holding on to good memories, and purging bad ones.

Here’s to tomorrow, to hope, and to the future.

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Life

Decompressing

I’m decompressing somewhat this evening, after spending the greater part of the week writing a lengthy technical document for work. I think it surprises my family sometimes – when I leave the study at the end of the work day – at how tired I can look.

Anyway. It’s the weekend. Of course we can’t go anywhere, because there’s a lockdown going on.

Washing clothes, cooking food, washing up, reading books, watching movies, and playing retro video games. That’s about the size of the weekend.

Fun times.

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Life

Watching from Afar

I have been distracted throughout the day watching the American election results roll in. I tried to explain what was happening and why to my children earlier this evening, and found myself playing devils advocate – trying to explain in terms they might understand why anybody in their right mind would vote for either Trump or the Republican party.

It’s a difficult argument to balance out on this side of the planet, because we have socialism, and have had it for generations. We didn’t go through a cold war where several generations were indoctrinated through everything they read and saw that communism and socialism were somehow terrible, and that capitalism was the solution to everything.

The thing I find interesting is that while our world view might seem very different than a typical mid-western American, the same concerns cause people here to vote for right wing governments. When your primary concerns are keeping your job, keeping a roof over your head, and putting food on the table, wider concerns such as foreign policy, prejudice against minorities, and even the risk of a global pandemic can become less important.

Many people (around the world – not just the US) have never left the area they live, let alone visited other countries or continents. It’s easy to see the “rest of the world” as just that – “them”. It’s easy to disassociate, to ignore lies, and to keep your head down if the chaos surrounding you doesn’t directly impact you.

The growing reach of the internet and social media has brought challenges too. The loudest voices on social media – and much of their audience – tend to forget that they are in a minority when compared to the wider world. What seems like a ground-swell of opionion on the internet often translates to no more than a ripple when viewed from a distance.

Anyway. I think that’s enough thinking for tonight.

It’s too easy to sound aloof and judgemental when you’re watching drama unfold that doesn’t involve you. At the end of the day, everybody casting votes in elections the world over makes the best decision they can for themselves and their family. Each person’s reason is different, and not necessarily “right” or “wrong”.