Week 25: Cough

Whatever else was going on this week was completely overshadowed by having to rush my daughter to hospital at 1am in an ambulance because she was having trouble breathing and her blood oxygen levels were dropping quickly.

Three days later and we were back home.

It was a stressful experience, and one I do not recommend. The facilities of the Children’s Hostpital which we were in were surprisingly good; we were in a private room rather than a ward, with a bed so that a visitor was able to stay each night – these beds were funded by the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal. The doctor and nurses were friendly and efficient – all very reassuring should we ever need to make another unwelcome visit.

Week 24: Paper and glass

  • We are at 12 months since the first Coronavirus Lockdown in the UK. What an absolute joy.
  • I have started reading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis on my Kindle. It is about pandemics. It is rattling along very nicely thank you (later addition: finished it! Really liked it).
  • I have again been searching for a decent desktop Windows RSS reader which uses Feedly as its feed+read/unread source, and not just another tab. I can’t find one. Whilst I could write something that technically meets these goals I am under no illusions about whether I would then want to actually use it.
  • I made an error in a previous update – because the World Book Day vouchers are sponsored by National Book Tokens, and bookshop.org accepts National Book Tokens, I had thought that the world book day vouchers were usable on bookshop.org – no matter how I tried it, I could not make this work. With all bookshops closed and our own limited access to supermarkets at the moment we ended up not getting any of the special World Book Day books, but instead contributed to the Jamie Smart retirement fund as usual.
  • When we order books online we use hive.co.uk – this is a British company who have been around for about 10 years; more recently the American Bookshop.org have launched in the UK – they both seem to offer 10% of what you pay to local bookshops you choose (although I think Hive offer 10% of net value, and Bookshop.org offer 10% of gross value).
  • Otherwise a quiet week. I got a flat tyre and couldn’t find my tyre levers to change the inner tube. So annoying. New ones are in the post!

Week 23: Audiobooks and talkative ham

  • I am still playing Lego Super Marvel Heroes 2. I’d like to save all the incarnations of Stan Lee and unlock all the characters. Since I bought the DLC Season Pass this means that there are 279 of the buggers to get, and loads of them are incredibly minor characters in the Marvel Universe, but also included are Blade and Spider-Ham. Both are a welcome break from the normal Iron-Man and Thor entries.
  • (an update on the above from later in the week: 4 days of progress has been somehow wiped from my saved game I am VERY DISAPPOINTED)
  • For World Book Day, a load of kids books have been released as free audiobooks on audioboom. You can see the list here: https://www.worldbookday.com/world-of-stories/ and the books themselves are hosted on audioboom (https://audioboom.com/channel/world-book-day).I was interested in a few of these, but for the chapter books it’s a separate file per chapter and am too lazy to select each one, so installed gpodder (https://gpodder.github.io/), upped its download limit in the preferences to 450 files, then pasted in the RSS URL (https://audioboom.com/channels/4903516.rss) and am downloading them all. It’s just under 4GB.Audioboom also has an Apple Podcasts entry, if that’s a thing for you.
  • 2312 was disappointing. Few, if any, novel ideas, with a rather rote presentation. The very core of the book had something good, but the author wasn’t interested in it.
  • I got back on the bike a few times this week! It was sunny! It was warm! Absolutely lovely to be out among the fields as a break from being at home all the time.
  • I just about remembered that the 19th of March was the last day for submissions to the European Astro Pi Challenge: Mission Zero which allows children under 14 to submit code to be run on the International Space Station. My daughter’s effort (helped along by me) was mostly images, and mostly from Among Us.
  • I uninstalled Twitter.

Week 22: Quiet, cookies and cleaning

  • The family went back to school this week and so my working days were once again quiet, which is very nice (although it does also mean I’m going to have to start buying petrol for the car again, in order to do the school run, which I haven’t had to do for months on end)
  • I don’t care about cookies. Not any more. Or at least, I don’t care about the horrible, intrusive cookie popups that so many websites have implemented. Just stop using the bloody cookies! You’re probably measuring the wrong thing anyway, so just stop it! Obviously an extension like this, with unlimited scope to look at all my browsing needs more than just a quick click of the install button, in order to see what it’s actually doing, but I am totally done with these popups.
  • Wednesday was a day off work in order to clean the house to prepare for selling the house. Again. MEGA GLARE.
  • I subscribe to the NASA space station feed, but they post really frequently, and so I often don’t read it. I guess the thing about the future is that if you wait long enough, it comes to you.
  • Why are there so many newsletters in 2021? Why has the email inbox become the new feed reader? Is this because Slack etc. has displaced the activity from email, and so people are now more willing to engage with their inboxes? What on earth did we do to deserve this particular hellscape?
  • We watched WandaVision. It was … OK? Not as engaging as The Mandalorian.
  • We have also been watching Superstore. A show about the same people interacting within (mostly) the same four walls, day in, day out. Feels about right for this timeline.
  • As you may be able to tell from the general tone of the above, my family and I are all exhausted. EXHAUSTED. We have a notice board in the house and have started writing up places to visit once we’re allowed. Place #1 is Stonehenge. For the majority of my life I have lived within an hour’s drive of it, but never visited. I think I should fix this. Here’s to a henge-tastic future!

Week 21: Going outside (and playing with Lego)

  • Because it’s so much warmer, and the evenings are so much longer, I managed to get out of the house more than once during the week instead of just walking between a single-digit number of rooms. Novel! I even got out on my bike, which was a massive relief – more of this to come I hope.
  • In a break from getting killed by Theseus and the Minotaur in Hades, I have picked up Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 again, which I think I haven’t played for 18 months because I got bored, but it serves as a nice, mindless plod forward with some fun parts (Asgardians do also not know what covfefe is, assuming it to be a Midgardian beverage). The Season Pass with a load of add-on packs was on sale for £3 so I picked up that, and now I can be Thanos and remake the universe as I see fit. Wonderful.
  • The kids are back to school next week, and although the schools will also being doing them, we are also now equipped with our own lateral flow tests. What joy!
  • This also means that I will be back to being on my own in the house during the day whilst working from home – because I left my last job at the end of Feb 2020, not starting the next until May 21, it also means it’s now been more than 12 months since I last had a workplace other than my living room.
  • I am slowly plodding my way through Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312. I think it thinks it’s avant-garde in some way, but it already feels anachronistic, and I’m really struggling to get through it, but my kindle tells me I’m at 80% so I’ll stick it out to the end.
  • I bullied my daughter into completing the Lego Hidden Side set she’s had half-built in the living room since last summer, which she completely resented until she’d finished and then had a great time using the app to hunt the ghosts and be hunted herself (although we did have to turn the “creepy” music off!”). 

Week 20: Zoom Fatigue

  • This has felt like a long week.
  • I realised that I am having a day off work roughly every 7 weeks with a thundering headache, inability to focus and incredibly short temper – my wife is placing her bets on some kind of Zoom Fatigue, which sounds not totally implausible – Anadin Extra only takes the edge off it and it takes a day or two before I’m back to normal again.
  • The project I’m on at work won an award for best collaboration in the Civil Service this year. That was nice!

Week 19: Brightening

  • There is blossom on trees!
  • There are primroses in the garden! At last, life!
  • I am making very, very slow progress in getting my blog moved over to Zola. Maybe an hour a week is not enough?
  • I hit 1000 continuous days of entries to Daylio. It has worked perfectly as a sort of daily personal blog, and I think I’ll have to explore the options for exporting the data (they permit CSV export) and seeing what kind of form I can get it into. There are also plenty of projects on Github that seem to use the data, so I’ll take a look at those too.
  • I am watching S3 of The Original Series of Star Trek. Somehow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before. It is v relaxing.

Week 18: Governmental

  • For most of the last year I’ve been working with the UK’s Government Digital Service on the COVID-19 response, specifically the bit that helps people who have to shield get additional support. It’s been a treat to see how quickly and effectively a disparate group of civil servants came together into a brand new team, hammered out a working solution and then iterated on it again and again to improve the service, and made it flexible enough to be able to respond to frequently changing policies. Many thanks to Tom Natt for getting me involved.
  • I am very bad at Hades, but it’s a great game and even if I’m not enjoying dying repeatedly, I enjoy the bits immediately before and after.
  • I am trying to move house. It is not going well. On Monday I will find out if we need to start all over again. Not overjoyed.