Weeknotes 22 (May ’20): Political despair

  • The US is rioting because yet another black man was killed by the police. Protests are being infiltrated by armed agitators, probably partly white racists, causing damage and violence, inflaming matters. The President is Donald Trump. What sort of society is this? There are so many areas of the society that are dysfunctional, it’s hard to see how they can reach anything that resembles a companionate, fair society. Widespread distrust of government. Widespread ownership of firearms. Widespread racism. Widespread belief in capitalism at all costs.
  • Years ago I was in the US and speaking to a liberal teacher. Even she thought national health care was a dangerous communist idea that would remove the right to fail.
  • Meanwhile, the British government… I actually can’t bear to write about it anymore.
  • I don’t know if this is the correct coping mechanism, but I’m trying to control the controllables.
  • I made granola.
  • I have been going through an HTML and CSS course to make sure I know how the modern stuff all works. I laughed at a bit about how in the olden days things used to be laid out with loads of divs. I remember when divs were an exciting upgrade from tables and CSS was a new idea.
  • I found out you can put variables in CSS.
  • On we go.

Weeknotes 21 (May ’20): The inevitable P.E. injury

  • On Friday, mid Frog Jump, I pulled something in my lower back and was stuck on all fours in acute pain for a while. It had a certain sense of inevitability about it. After all, PE with Joe is not wildly targeted at someone in their mid 40s, and the warm up is not as comprehensive as my body might like. I was also asking for trouble as I’ve been nursing a bit of a glutes issue. So.
  • Sarah took both the classes on Saturday. Ahem.
  • Granola recipe number 3 is nice. Will this be the final one? Stay tuned!
  • Dominic Cummings travelled over 200 miles when he should have been self isolating.
    1. This was probably a legitimate and sensible thing to do in his circumstances, and within the guidance.
    2. Many many other people would not have done this, thinking it was not allowed.
    3. Communication about what is and isn’t allowed has not been good at all.
    4. The media has not helped with extracting clarity. The government has not given clarity.
    5. People in positions of power will interpret rules to their benefit. Those without power will interpret them differently. Of these people, some will follow rules to the punitive letter. Some will decide to break them because they are used to rules penalising them and therefore ignoring them.
    6. People who normally have power: men, white people, rich people, middle and upper class people, middle aged people. (Cummings ticks all these boxes.)
    7. People who normally don’t have power: older people, younger people, women, people of colour, poor people, working class people.
    8. The Conservative party is for a particular sort of person, and is in government.
  • It’s been fun playing with linux again, even in the small context of a Raspberry Pi media server.
  • It’s a bank holiday tomorrow. Time to revisit the accounts!

Weeknotes 20 (May ’20): The probability of kangaroo jumps

  • Writing this on Tuesday because Sunday and Monday somehow got away from me.
  • Having got my hopes up about the PM’s announcement last Sunday, I, along with virtually everyone else in the country, did not feel perky after he presented the ‘plans’.
  • I am extremely law abiding and can always understand how decisions have been reached. I get that leadership is hard. I get that compromises need to be made. All of this perhaps makes it harder when you see people doing their jobs of leadership badly. And leads me to think about which rules to follow, which is tough for someone who normally just follows rules that are given.
  • Social distancing seems to be becoming more natural for a lot of people. The public spaces I saw this weekend were nice and calm.
  • Raspberry Pi media server is up and running. My brother in law sent me one that he wasn’t using, and a neighbour on Nextdoor had a spare USB keyboard he wasn’t using. Getting a media server to stream to the airport express was easier than getting the drives to map on my Mac.
  • I visited my mother on Sunday for the first time since lockdown began. Very nice to see her. And quite an energetic bike ride.
  • PE with Joe sometimes involves games of chance in which the exercise is determined by something seemingly random, such as a wheel of fortune. This week he had 12 exercises and two dice, and we had to do the exercise that the dice added up to. He seemed mystified by why we were getting more of the exercises clustered in the middle. Sarah and I chatted about probability while doing kangaroo jumps.

Weeknotes 19 (May ’20): Which rabbit holes have rabbits in them?

  • I managed to get RSpec to stop failing intermittently on my app. I should have looked more closely at all the tests, but I’m struggling to identify which rabbit holes have rabbits in and which ones don’t. As it were.
  • Taught taekwondo to a class of 20 children over Zoom on Saturday. That’s just insane when you think about it.
  • Trying to stay positive about the state of things, and becoming increasingly aware that this one of those personally defining times in which your behaviour towards others will haunt you. Try to make it positive. And also aware that the government may not be doing what is best, so to pay attention, as far as possible, to what is controllable and positive.
  • Had a couple of meetings this week in which my key contribution was to help add clarity to a situation. This is a strange skill to have as it’s not a skill that seems to achieve anything, or do anything, but without it those things don’t necessarily get done.
  • Like many small business owners, we spent Friday’s bank holiday looking at our accounts. I can imagine enjoying being an accountant because there’s so much precision and ‘rightness’ attached to it. Am not going to retrain.
  • Made another batch of granola yesterday with a completely different recipe to last time. What a hobby.
  • Raspberry Pi media server project is seeming more likely.
  • And our jobs around the flat have finally reached the kitchen cupboards. Our oils and spices are a thing to behold.

Weeknotes 18 (May ’20): Digitising those cds was totally worth it

  • A couple of weeks ago I started getting spam in Spanish and at the same time my Gmail spam filtering became way less effective. I have no idea where the Spanish stuff came from, but I suspect Babbel may have something to do with it, even though I was trying to learn French with them. Gmail seems to be catching almost all the Spanish stuff, but also quite a few legit emails. It’s an interesting process to watch.
  • I’m noticing far more people out and about on my daily (or less frequent) exercise. As always, the people who are least aware are the ones staring at their phones. I think they get into ‘normal’ mode, but also, just, people on phones.
  • We live near a coffee shop that trolled me on Twitter a few years ago. They have a few ‘ironic’ signs in their window that I found offensive, and they decided my expressing that opinion on Twitter was fair game for a bit of a fight. It became the last straw for me in terms of my Twitter experience and I walked away, and I haven’t bought anything from them since. Now, they are open for take away coffee and have a long line down our road most days. I am almost tempted to open a competing coffee stand along the line of the queue. This is a horrible insight in to my mean and bitter side, isn’t it.
  • I have digitised about 250 cds over the last week or so. I threw myself into this project thinking it would be obvious what to do with them once they were digitised, but I have discovered this turns out to be an utterly non-trivial and messy world of expensive kit and systems that suddenly stop working with other systems. I am currently toying with the idea of building something to plug into our amp using Raspberry Pi.
  • I am not convinced by the apparent Government policy of hinting at changes before announcing them.
  • I am also not convinced that the best use of Boris Johnson’s time was giving an interview to the Sun.
  • This morning I remembered Brexit and started to cry.
  • Running continues. I am trying to manage the pain that occurs in my left achilles, leg and glutes, so trying to take it very easy indeed. And I am having a mini experiment with Runkeeper. Strava is entirely focussed on sharing, which I don’t care for.
  • I have a test suite for an app that fails in different ways at random. I am going to solve the bloody thing this week.
  • Still doing PE with Joe every weekday morning. He’s not exactly Mr Detail, but I am so pleased he turns up every day. Not easy for him, either, I’m sure.
  • And having to think very hard about goal setting and progression in taekwondo at the moment, as our normal markers are a bit up in the air. We’ve arrived at some ideas for May, so here’s hoping they work for everyone.

Weeknotes 17 (Apr ’20): Someday / maybe

  • I seem to have got to items that would appear on my someday / maybe list if I had such a list.
    • I have started digitising my CDs into Apple Music using Apple’s lossless format. Is that the best way? Who knows?!
    • I have attempted to make homemade granola using a recipe from Joe Wicks. I love PE with Joe but think I might need to restrict the rest of my exposure to JW. I really don’t think I am target demographic. Granola still to be tasted.
    • I have washed bits of our balcony.
    • I have taken up a rug and tried go get the dust out of it. I subsequently couldn’t sleep because of all the dust. And now we have a rolled up rug in our hall. Hmmm.
    • I went running three times last week. This is a habit I would love to sustain.
  • Obviously it’s pretty impossible to know how the social distancing measures will be lifted, but Sarah and I have started to have little fantasies about how we can get taekwondo up and running in person again. Zoom is all very well, but it is nowhere near the fun of actually kicking people and things. I think people assume Sarah and I train together a lot, but we don’t at all. We’ve never managed to get it to work without getting grumpy with each other.
  • We watched an episode of Grand Designs yesterday about a guy who had a brain haemorrhage and then decided to spend lots of money building an incredible house on the Isle of Wight. The project went well over budget, and resulted in the guy having massive stress about money and having to work long long hours in his incredible house. His wife seemed to think it was all worth it. It seemed awful and I kept waking up last night feeling anxious about it. Not my kinda risk.
  • I’ve been using Strava for a while in a very casual way. I like having a place to see when I have been running and I don’t track any of my other activities. But I have never liked the sharing element so is Strava really the right place for this stuff? Another someday / maybe question may be about to be answered…

Weeknotes 16 (Apr ’20): Insights missing

  • I’ve been unwell this week, with a headache and fatigue. COVID-19? More likely hay fever, the menstrual cycle, and adjusting to new glasses. Regardless, productivity went out the window.
  • Feeling quite a bit better today, and catching up with my inbox etc.
  • Sarah has progressed to making nachos from the taco left overs. This is good.
  • I have worked through enough of the books on my bookshelf that every book now has a home! Granted, some of the homes are a stack of books next to the coffee table, but still…
  • We’ve been setting weekly taekwondo challenges to help people focus their training a bit, and I’ve found them super useful too. I would certainly benefit from that sort of approach myself longer term, I reckon.
  • On Thursday there was headline news about people with COVID-19 antibodies being able to catch it again. Combined with the idea that a vaccine is as complicated as developing one for the common cold, I am now convinced that ‘when this is all over’ is not a phrase I should use anymore.
  • I’m sure I had lots of insightful thoughts to write down this week, but perhaps not.

Weeknotes 15 (Apr ’20): Painful eyes and ‘live’ tennis

  • I’m working on a small project to manage our taekwondo kit orders. This week I finished the functionality and headed down a Rubocop rabbit hole. It’s been fun, and has been leading to some good refactoring. Next week I will probably add an RSpec rabbit hole to the mix.
  • My lockdown project is to try to work through the many, many books I have on my shelves and have always wanted to read. This week I read some mediocre sci-fi, and The Too Difficult Box. The Too Difficult Box is a collection of political essays about subjects that are generally considered too difficult for politics to handle properly. Climate change, prostitution, drug laws, etc. It was published before the Scottish referendum and before the Brexit vote, and is generally pretty dated. Good in parts, but I skimmed chunks of it. Nothing major to take away.
  • I remembered that Amazon prime lets you watch ATP tennis on catchup. Yesterday we watched a couple of matches from the Dubai open a couple of months ago. Might watch the final today.
  • I saw my optician just before lockdown began and they posted a new pair of glasses to me this week. Now my eyes hurt. The rule of new glasses is to commit, so I’m just trying to wait it out.
  • Easter. Ate too much chocolate.

Weeknotes 14 (Apr ’20): Are we having fun yet?

  • I have not been dealing well with disappointment. On Friday I attempted to attend, via Zoom, my weekly yoga class, only to find the link didn’t work. I was very close to tears, and realised how incredibly important routine is. On Saturday we attempted to combine buying coffee beans with our daily exercise and walked to Monmouth Coffee at Spa Terminus. It was closed – the opening hours announced on the website on Friday had been changed and we hadn’t checked again that morning. I became incredibly stressed and angry. This is not my normal.
  • However, I had just had a bad experience of a local stall holder standing way too close to me for comfort, and seeming to be utterly oblivious about the 2 metre thing. I wasn’t able to process it properly and address it at the time, but, next time that happens, I will explain to the person they are making me uncomfortable.
  • It’s hard to get enough exercise. I did manage a run on Wednesday and it made me feel great.
  • Our online taekwondo classes continue. We did a tough session on Tuesday evening and I’m not sure it was wise. On the one hand we want to get together and be in familiar company, and we would normally do tough stuff in that familiar company. On the other hand, do we want to do tough stuff now, or is live tough enough?
  • PE with Joe continues. I may need to find another approach, though, because I’m not getting to my desk until 10am.
  • I ordered a kneeling chair because suddenly after years of working at home now is the time I address the seating. Bonkers.
  • Sarah has been making corn tacos with the taco press. Very good investment.
  • Just finished reading The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. It’s very good and absolutely fascinating about trauma and approaches to treatment (but a part of how he writes made me think he may be quite a difficult person to know). So much of what seems to be genuinely good for us is overlooked or under prescribed because it doesn’t fit into a neat clinical drug based model. My main take away points were: keep doing yoga and keep meditating. And if you haven’t heart of EMDR therapy before, take a look because it’s incredible.

Weeknotes 13 (Mar ’20): Adjustment

  • It’s amazing what you can get used to. I hardly slept on Friday night, probably because I hadn’t left the house, but on Saturday morning I got up with a sense of optimism I’ve not felt in a few weeks. We taught taekwondo classes over Zoom from our living room, and it has all started to feel normal and achievable.
  • We went for a walk on Saturday afternoon and I found myself getting intensely stressed by the sight of a runner jogging close behind a walker in a narrow space, waiting to overtake him. She checked her watch as she jogged in place, and I realised she was in her zone, a regular runner, escaping from the new reality, and inadvertently being quite scary. We’re all adjusting.
  • Sarah mentioned that our current hyper awareness about physical distance is relatively normal for women, but it’s unusual to see men show such awareness. Perhaps men will start to understand how your average female feels walking home of an evening.
  • I did PE with Joe every morning last week. Starting the day with some mindless and positive exercise has been fantastic. I have not yet managed to get out for a run, but Joe made my legs hurt anyway.
  • Joe is very good and experienced at what he does, and it made me a bit paranoid about my ability to teach online. My teaching of Tuesday’s class may have suffered a bit. That was all calmed by being on the receiving end of a couple of live classes online later in the week, which made us look positively slick.
  • My French learning is progressing, but very slowly. I have been working through English grammar classes at Kahn Academy. My school education was during the phase of not teaching grammar in schools. I have got as far as prepositions.
  • Finished reading Invisible Women. Made me angry, of course.