Watching a spaniel of a morning, all ears and legs, joyously tear around a field is medicine for the soul.My two thoughts on yet another Tory prime minister.
Given Truss has been tossing political red meat to the party members during the leadership campaign, and her capacity to ‘adapt’ in the interests of ambition, how quickly will she change tack in order to survive, once in office?
While Truss argues for small-state, low tax policies, and economic growth rather than helping those who are struggling (are the two mutually exclusive?Being cooped up at home because of the hot weather feels weird. It’s a thing I associate with winter. To be stuck at home, indoors, albeit voluntarily, at this time of year is odd.
We’re all getting a bit grouchy, including the pup. We did go out yesterday morning for a short walk and a coffee, while it was relatively cool, which helped.
One more day of these temperatures, according to the forecast, and then dropping to the lower twenties.It really is quite melty today. 7:30 in the evening and still about 30 degrees. I think it will be a hot night. If sleep doesn’t come easily I will watch the supermoon.Checking in with the blog after 3 weeks (is it?) of puppy….mayhem….wrangling…settling in.
Not blogging has been a good plan as it’s been pretty hectic. An incremental adjustment to a new normal.
And she is a star.
Come Friday she can go out and about on the ground, as the vaccines will be in play. Adventures await!
In between all the puppiness small achievements have been achieved.
Finally got around to setting up Google pay on my phone.I keep seeing a puppy running around our house and garden - is this down to the lack of sleep brought on by hot weather and very bright moon, or perhaps a cheese dream?
No, we really do seem to find ourselves with a new puppy.Hot weather in the summertime. Not my favourite but equally it imparts something of a holiday feel. A step outside the norm. I find the hottest part of the day enervating but enjoy the warm/cool evenings and the fading light that seems to last long after the sun goes down.
Daylight when I go to sleep and daylight when I wake up. A state of hyperrealism.I am mystified by our swallows. Two nests, two broods. Both broods seem to have fledged.
And yet, I have not seen anything of the young ones since. Usually, they’d be very obviously in and out of the nest site, often sitting in a row on a roof beam waiting for the parents to feed them.
The adults are still very much in evidence, and presumably will be gearing up for second broods.I haven’t actually checked, but I think my posts here have become more sporadic. Haven’t felt like I have much to say right now so the perennial voice in the background that asks ‘what’s the point?’ has felt louder. In reality I know that at this time of year fatigue is a big player - hayfever and a busy time at work combine to cumulative effect.
However, I’m not going to abandon the blog.All I wanted was a nasal spray for hayfever. I’d read on patient. info that other than over-the-counter steroid sprays all others require a prescription. I used AskMyGP to request a prescription.
I assumed this would be a straightforward process.I won’t go into all the details. Suffice to say that I found myself caught up in a new system that seems to outsource some of a GP’s traditional work to local pharmacists.Well, having broken my blog and then spent a while fixing it I think I’m back where I started. Everything is working as before; right through to the deploy being triggered on Render, but as before, the new post that should be showing doesn’t, until I do a manual deploy.
Having been bending my brain over this for a few days, I’m going to leave it as it is for now.Sad to see Julee Cruise has died. I’m not familiar with her work other than appearing on Hybrid’s outstanding 1999 debut album, Wide Angle. An album that still stands up today, and will always be a classic for me.Hmm. Having transferred the blog from Netlify to Render, the result is a resounding failure 😄. If a deploy fails on Netlify, a manual retry usually works. Not so with Render.
If you are reading this then clearly the problem has been resolved, which probably means, at least in the short term that I’m using GitHub Pages.
This suggests there is a problem with my Hugo build, so if I want to persist with Hugo in the long term I probably need to rebuild it on the Pi.I’ve moved the blog site over to Render. A very straightforward process, and I hope it works out. I’m sure, with a bit of digging, I could have got to the bottom of the problem I was experiencing with Netlify, and was most likely user error. You know, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing kind of scenario.Went outside about 6:30 this morning and realised the blue tits were fledging. Much calling and coaxing from the parents, at least a couple young in the walnut tree and another peeping out of the nest box.
Told my wife and by the time we went to look a few minutes later they were all gone. We’ve noticed this before - they really don’t hang around. With various magpies and jackdaws hanging around on the chance of a tasty breakfast, it’s not surprising.The pair of robins for whom our garden is their territory (policed with considerable violence at times, in contrast to the benign greetings card image often portrayed), successfully raised a couple of chicks about a month ago. Up until a last week, the parents were still feeding the fledglings in the garden. As a result all four family members became increasingly bold around us.
The youngsters seem to have moved on now, but the parents remain, and are still very bold, the female in particular.Having a holiday is great. Immediately launching back into everyday hustle and bustle, without taking proper care to manage sleep needs, overwhelm and anxiety is not so great. As I learnt to my detriment.
Trouble is, I am prone to think that when I’m rested and energised, I can then put my foot to the floor and achieve all sorts of shit. Which may well be the case - for a short while.I had to abandon work on Friday, after nearly passing out while in a discussion with a client. I’d been feeling none too great all morning. Went home and spent most of the remainder of the day in bed. A weekend of taking it easy and I feel largely back on track.
I think a couple of weeks of poor sleep, anxiety about various things, busyness at work and little to no breathing space in between all caught up on me.Looking at my options for moving the blog away from Netlify.Been doing a daily meditation for 3 months now, bar a couple of days missed.
I have seen some very small benefits, I think, but also a lot of criticism towards myself. Barely any change in my ability to focus, which is just for a second or two before my mind wanders. And now I’m nodding off a lot.
Parking the whole idea for now.Most years we get a few common whitethroats in the area where we live. Usually see them sitting atop a hedge or clump of brambles singing. Not that it’s that much of a song - short and scratchy. But I rather like it.
I’ve been hearing one for the last week when I’m out in the garden. Even heard it coming from somewhere within the garden. Then on Sunday while I was sitting outside, it turned up for a bit of a splash in our birdbath.Holidays present the possibility of reading a lot more than I usually find time for. In theory. In practice, they often don’t. The holiday I have just had, the first since 2019 aside from a few days here or there, has been the exception.
Consequently, I was able to pick up on Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism is True from where I left off and finish it.
Wright is someone who is not content to accept ideas on face value, in a good way.I see there is a recurrence of the problem I had with Netlify not properly deploying the blog when there is a new post. Harrumph.First swallow of the year. Spotted briefly while I was out and about. Not one of ours but hope they are not far behind.
Our robins have three eggs, probably more to follow. I was able to take a quick peek while both adults were away from the nest. The blue tits have been busy carrying moss into their box.
Still a few winter migrants around; fieldfares and redwings. And spotted a peregrine soaring high above our village.Our swallows have often arrived by now, but not this year. I would think the wintery weather is giving them cause to stay put, wherever they currently are. This is born out by reports I’ve read from Portland Bird Observatory.
Meanwhile, our current residents are still busy. The blue tits are still around although it’s too early for them to lay yet. I think the blackbirds have abandoned the nest they built in the garden, and their activity seems to centre on some bushes just beyond the end of the garden.On completing my 30 day meditation exercise, I mentioned noticing small changes.
Initially I would frequently experience anger and frustration bubbling to the surface. Apparently, this is a common thing with meditation. By the end these were greatly diminished.
I stopped thinking ‘Are my 10 minutes nearly up?’.
I began to notice how much I lack self-compassion. I started to be kinder to myself.
I’m not sure I have seen much improvement yet in my ability to ‘gently bring my attention back to my breath’, as the instructions will often say.Seeing headlines about current heating oil prices being 3 times the normal level, I thought I would check. Sure enough, got a quite from Boilerjuice and it came in at £1.55 a litre! I think at the last fill we paid about 45p.
At least we are getting to the time of year when we can turn the heating off.Normally, when I buy fuel, I always completely fill the tank. No point in doing less as it means more frequent stops. Inefficient.
But with fuel prices what they are I made an exception last week, and just partly filled up as I was running low. I paid £183.90 for diesel, which seems unbelievable.
I’ve loaded an app onto my phone that shows fuel prices at filling stations on a map.Heard an interview with Sharon Salzberg a few weeks ago, in which she mentioned, if I recall correctly, that research has shown that doing ten minutes of mindfulness meditation a day, for thirty days, has a noticeable impact.
At the time, I was struggling to maintain any kind of meditation practice, but despite not generally being into setting this kind of goal, I decided to give it a try. Thirty days is not so long, is it?Spotted a blackbird ducking into a shrub in the garden, with a beakful of nesting material. A quick peek later, and I could see a partially built nest. That’s the third one I know about in the garden.I am bereft! ‘We’ll be back … stay tuned’: Kermode and Mayo’s BBC Radio 5 Live film show to end after 21 years | Radio | The Guardian
Tinkety tonk, old fruits and down with that sort of thing.I spotted a robin with nesting material in our shed this morning. I later saw it leaving the nest box we have in there, so I’m pleased to see they are using it. A pair of blue tits checked out another nest box a few weeks ago but it’s a little early for them to start to build yet.
And I’ve yet to see any great tits visit the box they usually use, but that doesn’t mean a thing as we’ve learnt that they can manage to build a nest without us having any idea until they’ve got eggs in there.The BBC having been promoting changes that come into effect this month on how their podcasts can be accessed.
We are told that we can hear podcasts ‘28 days before anyone else, for free, on BBC Sounds.’
This seems to be a completely back-to-front way of saying we will no longer be able to get BBC podcasts on our app of choice when they are published. And not sure what this achieves either.A question: When writing and later, printing, allowed reading to supersede oral traditions, did people question whether reading was a legitimate way to consume information and stories?
I find myself asking the same sort of question about audiobooks. Does listening to an audiobook count as having read it? There is always a little voice in the back of my mind that asks the question.
In reality, I think it does, particularly given that oral traditions predate reading.We said goodbye to our old boy yesterday.
So long, my friend, it’s been a good one.The local authority here in Somerset have taken the highly unusual step to close schools across the county today, in anticipation of the storm.
I can’t help wondering if this is a tad excessive, but equally I am neither a meteorologist or fortune-teller so what do I know. And of course the safety of my son and all the other children comes first.
So, we will all be here at home today, either working or studying.I need another Raspberry Pi but they are virtually impossible to get hold of at the moment. I assume it’s down to the Big Chip Problem.
I’ve ordered a temp/pressure/humidity sensor as I want to set up a basic weather station. For the time being I will use my one and only Pi until I can get hold of a Pi Zero.
I’ve been doing a lot of Python coding of late but setting up a sensor will be new territory.15 today! 🐕Having found a way to journal that works for me is good. Now, my aim is find a way to blog in the manner that I want. I’ve dispensed with the idea of posting about my mental health in the way that I thought I wanted to. I didn’t feel comfortable with that and so ended up rarely posting anything relating to anxiety and depression. That is where my journal comes in.A trip to the vet for our dog today. Just for a check up and to issue a prescription for diazepam to sedate him post-seizure, as and when any further ones occur.
Interestingly, the vet said that because he doesn’t exhibit any behavioural changes between seizures, it is unlikely to be a brain tumour, after all. More likely, the first seizure/stroke caused some damage that is triggering the subsequent seizures.She also said he is quite happy, no sign of depression, neither is he in any pain.For several months I’ve been journaling much more regularly than in any my previous attempts. As a repository for ideas of my own, or things I come across, it has an immediacy that a blog lacks.
Without the need to create something that others can comprehend it is a sandbox for thoughts and reflections.Just why have I not watched My Neighbor Tortoro before now?The sun rose just prior to 8am this morning, the first time since before the winter solstice.The more I learn about Stoicism the more I get the sense that a lot of it is about bringing objectivity to bear on how we look at the world and ourselves.
And the more I realise how much people(ie me) allow the stories we tell ourselves to cloud our view.I am running into more people I know that have either had Covid or had to isolate over the last month, than at any other time during the pandemic.
Various appointments or meet ups cancelled and several of my son’s classmates have had to take time off.
It feels like there is an inevitability to catching it sooner or later. Not fatalism, but rather mental preparation for being stuck at home when I’d rather not.I followed the Ashes to a degree. The time difference plus the car-crash of a performance from England blunted my enthusiasm. If there was one positive to choose from, and there weren’t many, I’d say it was Mark Wood’s bowling. He just kept on running in. Whatever else was going on. So I’m glad he finally got his haul of wickets. He deserved it.
I just long for a properly contested Test.Whether it’s books, TV series, blogging, or whatever, I am having to accept that my interest in something cycles. I always tell myself that consistency is what I ‘should’ aim for. But the reality is that I dive into something with enthusiasm for a time and then all motivation drains away.
Take, for example Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism is True. Started it months ago. Completely fascinated by what he has to say.This arrived today. Spent some Christmas gift money. Pierre Hadot is often quoted by some of the more recent writers on Stoicism, particularly The Inner Citadel. I thought I’d better read it myself.Took a trip over to Steart Marshes yesterday. Happened to be a bright dry day in among the grey and murky ones. A cold wind - cleared the head after spending a lot of time indoors. Walked out to the Breach.
Waders and wildfowl aplenty - lapwing, shelduck, redshank, curlew - but the highlight was a male hen harrier quartering the reed beds. I’ve only ever seen one before, years ago, and as a breeding species in the UK that is almost non-existent, to see a winter visitor was a real treat.2021 has made me think all over again about what we are doing to this planet. And ourselves. About what really matters. I like this quote from Donald Robertson’s How to think like a Roman Emperor:
‘…to desire something is to imagine having what you don’t have, the presence of something that’s absent. Gratitude, on the other hand, comes from imagining the absence of things that are currently present: What would it be like if you didn’t have this?Our postponed trip to the coast went ahead today, complete with one perky dog - no after effects of his seizure in evidence.
Got a decent walk in, and good to get some fresh air after several days at home. Usually, the views from Selworthy Beacon are stunning. But…not today…We were planning to go off to the coast for some walking today but our dog had another seizure last night. He has to rest for 24hrs afterwards so instead we have an enforced day of taking it easy.
As it happens, the weather was pretty grotty this morning so not such a bad thing.A family discussion about Christmas films. The question came up: which is more violent, Die Hard or Home Alone?One week to go before the days start getting longer again.Finally managed to book my booster jab at a time that works for me. I’ve ended up checking several times a day as there are so few slots available and they get snapped up within minutes. So far they’ve all been at times that I can’t do either.
I checked again just now and there is suddenly loads of availability so I’ve got one booked for an evening next week.Yikes! Over £100 to fill the van up with fuel. That’s a first.‘Help! I’m stuck on a llama. And it’s immortal!’
Overhearing in-game multiplayer chat has become the norm in our house over the last year. This has got to be the best heard so far.I’ve just ordered a new bike light so that I can go for a blast around the lanes after dark. As per usual, I got bogged down with the sheer number of options available, but quickly narrowed it down once I realised that both Moon and Knog include models in their respective ranges with replaceable batteries. In the interest of both the environment and my pocket, this makes sense.
I’ve gone for a Moon Meteor Storm Lite (surely coming up with a snappier name wouldn’t have taken that much more effort?Now here’s a weird thing. I’ve grumbled previously about the problems I’ve been having with Netlify deploying my site correctly. However, since switching to an Android phone, each post I’ve published has been deployed immediately, first time.
How does that work? Once formatted the markdown files are saved to Dropbox and thereafter the workflow is the same, regardless of whether I wrote it on iOS or Android.
I’m sure someone with far greater expertise would know why.There has been a requirement for a lot of parenting this weekend.Funny I should have commented on getting to November without a frost, as then we immediately had two or three during the first week of the month. Loads of redwings about now and the fieldfares have just arrived as well.I’m trying out iA Writer on my Android phone. I had it on iOS way back, not long after it came out, if I recall correctly. The only reason I didn’t use it more was because the file handling didn’t work for me. And once I got in to using Drafts, where I could set up a workflow just how I liked it, there was no going back.
It’s perfectly fine to write with, however, it is doing something weird when I save.To get to November without so much as a sniff of a frost. I couldn’t be certain, but that’s a first as far as I can recall.This a test post to see if my Python script works correctly; copies this text, adds the front matter and saves the file with the correct name. If you are reading this on the blog, then all went according to plan.With my move to an Android phone, the app I shall miss the most is Drafts. I have a ton of actions that I’ve made, although there are only a handful I use regularly. Replicating what they achieve will take some work but I hope my recent efforts with Python are going to come in handy.
Saving blog posts will be top of that list. The Drafts action I use adds the front matter with prompts for the url and tags, then saves it to Dropbox.Bye bye iOS, hello Android.Our dog had another seizure last night. Fortunately I was still up, so was able to be there while it happened. Again, he seems none the worse for wear, other than the exhaustion from the seizure and the drugs that make him a tad wobbly for a few hours. I slept downstairs on the sofa to keep en eye on him, as per the vets advice, but no further happenings.I was able to watch three talks live at yesterday’s Stoicon plus some other bits as well.
Kai Whiting and Leonidas Konstantakos presented the first talk on The Equality of Moral Errors(sounds esoteric but was anything but), from which I learned about their book Being Better: Stoicism for a World Worth Living in.
I’ve added this to my reading list as it goes into Stoicism and its relevance to social justice, climate breakdown and global capitalism - some of the issues that have prompted me to look to philosophy for answers.I’ve bought my ticket for Stoicon 2021. All to be enjoyed from the comfort of my home! Tickets available from the above link.I learned that the library at my son’s new school has a post-apocalyptic section. 😆 In the fiction department, I might add.This is a shame to read about. Coquet Island has been the backdrop to many a happy hour on the Northumberland coast, and it’s sad to hear that the wardens are having to take steps to keep unauthorised people away. ‘Rogue’ paddleboarders and kayakers threaten seabird sanctuary | Birds | The GuardianI do seem to be developing a meditation habit - I think natural curiosity is giving me persistence. And while I can’t as yet point to any specific benefits, I miss it if a don’t do any for a couple of days.One coffee or two in the morning? Not about need - I just like coffee.
And I only have just enough time for two, so I usually finish the second on my commute. I reckon if I limit myself to just the one, I would savour it more. Knowing I have a second one coming straight after the first somehow nullifies the enjoyment of the first. And the second one is never as enjoyable as the first.I am aware that the frequency of my posts has dropped off. As opposed to when I wrote about a similar thing back in May, this has not been about a lack of confidence or arguments in my head about authenticity. Rather, this is about having too much to write about.
I have been enjoying myself delving deeper into Stoicism, Buddhism and various related topics. The only thing is, and this is perhaps one of the strengths/weaknesses of the internet, it’s very easy to leap from idea to concept to idea and so on.More owl action last night. The barn owl appeared around the same time, same place, and we all got a good view of it.
Then during the night there were hoots and calls from tawny and little owls.Absolutely delighted to see a barn owl hunting in the field across the road from our house. With the landowner allowing the pasture to remain as rough grazing, it has become a better habitat for voles, and the owl’s presence confirms that.
Watching one fly at dusk, they always look so ghostly, and bigger than they really are. It dropped several times into the grass and used a couple of fence posts to perch on.I have just signed up for this year’s Stoic Week.A walk in Middleton Down nature reserve today. Perfect weather. Red kites, ravens, wheatears and yellow hammers. Still plenty of wild flowers.I think that the problems with my blog and Netlify are reaching critical mass. I’m finding that I am put off from posting because of the hassle to then get it to show on the blog.
I’ve decided that the first thing to tackle is a rebuild of the Raspberry Pi. The version of Hugo I have on there is not the newest - I inadvertently downloaded the wrong one and haven’t got around to a delete and reinstall.Recently discovered a local nature reserve while exploring our area on bike. Can’t quite believe I’ve lived here for 14 years and didn’t know about this one. Alright, it’s just a small area and not well known, so I can let myself off the hook.
Took my son and dog for a walk there this morning. Good bit of mixed woodland with some fine looking sweet chestnut trees.Sitting out in the garden, I looked up. Above the gap between our trees a sparrow hawk appeared, at the same time as a buzzard, flying much higher.
Sparrow hawk - the speck in the upper right. Buzzard - speck in the lower left.Oh my, does it feel like autumn today.I’ve been trying to implement some sort of mindfulness/Stoic contemplation practice in the mornings. The results have been mixed as my mind tends to be all over the place at that time of day.
It can be a productive time for me as it is often then that I have ideas. But it is also a time when my mind is running over all the things that I need to do.Four nights camping in west Wales. The first proper break away from home in two years courtesy of The Pandemic. And the first chance to properly test the deluxe shower system.
We’d bought this 12v portable shower for a camping trip in 2019 that got cancelled. So it got its first testing in ’the field’ this week. Combined with plenty of water heated on the wood burner and a pop-up shower tent, it worked a treat.Sameer Vasta has a particularly good list of things he has learned over the last two months.Our dog had a seizure last night. Never happened before and distressing to see. Fortunately he seemed to have all his faculties in good order afterwards, other than being exhausted. The vet said the next 24hrs is the crucial period as if he has another it could leave him in a bad way or be fatal. So we are on watch.
He has come through the night without anything further and seems to be his usual self.Loved the BMX racing at the Olympics. They are all mad as a box of frogs. And two GB medals - Kye White and Bethany Shriever both did brilliantly.Enjoyed a good thunderstorm this afternoon. Not an ear-splitter but rumbled on for an hour or so. 15mm of rain in about 40 mins.The effort required to resolve the issue Netlify has with updating my blog must still outweigh the frustration at having to manually deploy an update 2 or 3 times before it does it correctly.
Eventually the balance will tip the other way and I will sort it out.Liked: Mental illness is a reality – so why does ‘mental health’ get all the attention?School finishes at the end of next week and that will be the end of primary school for my son. Part of me wonders where the time has gone but equally I think about just how far he has come.I bought a Dave Matthews Band album in DRM-free MP3 format. Kind of an experiment in anticipation of moving away from the confines of Apple at some point in the future. It was a good feeling to know I own it outright and can play it on any device. Not a feeling I have had in a long time.Can it really be 5 years ago today that we had the referendum on leaving the EU? Time flies - but I can’t honestly say it’s because we’ve been having fun. I still feel sad about what seems like an almighty act of self-sabotage.Last autumn, I started fiddling around with Tiddlywiki but for some reason which escapes me now, I didn’t get that far with it.
Teaching myself about Stoicism, I am rapidly collecting a vast list of links to articles, books to read, concepts to research. To help get this information into a more useful structure I’ve set up a new Tiddlywiki and started adding to it.
I’ll be interested to see how far I get this time.Further experimentation with the field recording yesterday. Given I wake up early at this time of year I have been planning to try to get better recordings of the dawn chorus. With sunrise occurring around 5 am, the birds start singing at around 3:45. So, up at 3-ish, a snack and a coffee, and then the almighty trek round the corner to the churchyard.
All was silent bird-wise, which was what I had planned for.Mmmm, still can’t quite work out what is happening with block quotes not showing correctly on at least one post, but it seems that somewhere in my workflow the .md file is reverting to an earlier version.
All I can identify so far is that if I manually edit the .md file in question on the Raspberry, after a while it seems to have changed back to a pre-edit post. In theory a change should only occur there if I edit the file in Dropbox from where it is synced to the Pi.I can’t work out why block quotes are not displaying correctly on the blog. The markdown is correct, so….Coming at Stoicism from the CBT and mental health angle, I quickly came up against some pretty startling ideas. Visualising negative outcomes (premeditatio malorum) and considering ones own death or that of a loved one. Ideas that, on the face of it, could send anyone prone to catastrophizing into the very existential crisis they would like to avoid.
However, dig a little deeper and I find that these ideas have a much more positive basis.Had my second jab yesterday. No obvious side effects this time. 👍Liked: Your Autistic Year from Bix Frankonis.
In the rush to get back to “normal”, neurotypicals could do worse than to take stock of how the disruptions of the pandemic affected them, and consider the ways in which the day-to-day of what they consider normal itself can be a daily disruption to those of us burdened with very different brains.Liked: Marina Hyde on Naomi Osaka and the French Open Sport loves athletes with mental health issues – if they just shut up and playI’ve been playing with the field recorder that I bought last month.
It is certainly a step up from using a phone or compact camera. Here’s a 10 minute recording of rain and birdsong from my garden.Last week, a woodpecker attacked the nest box in which the great tits were nesting. It pecked two large holes but seems to have not touched the eggs. Still, the great tit pair have abandoned it. Nature does seem harsh at times.
On Friday my wife spotted the woodpecker having a crack at the blue tit box. I left work a little early so I could come home and add fortifications.Sometimes blogging seems to be about not hitting the publish button.
I frequently have ideas for posts related to mental health, make notes and write drafts, only to decide when it comes to it, not to publish. So I’ve made myself reflect on why.
Confidence is one issue; it goes without saying that you make yourself vulnerable blogging about this stuff. Couple that with the way anxiety saps your confidence anyway and, well, you’re already up against it before you’ve even started!My son and I are going to set up a Minecraft server today for him and his friends. The deal is that a bike ride comes first, in order to use up some of the large amounts of excitement and energy and bring things back to a calmer level. How very parent-y of me.Managed a look into the blue tits nest box today, having spotted the parents leaving (do they qualify as parents before the chicks hatch?) This is a good sized clutch of eggs - it amazes me that such a small bird can produce so many. More data for the Nest Record Scheme.
An article on the BTO website explains that:
An average clutch of Blue Tit eggs contains roughly 0.5 g of calcium, which might not sound like a lot; but given that there is only about 0.With our weekly veg box, it never ceases to entertain me that we get an email alert if kohlrabi is due to be included in the next delivery. So we can change the order.
Kohlrabi continues to be a complete mystery to me. One that I have no desire to solve.I spotted our resident Great tits were away from the nest box so popped the inspection camera in for a peek.
They have been busy!Watched Mortal Engines for a family film night. My son is a big fan of the books - I must read them myself. I know it got a bit of a panning, but I thought it was pretty good. Yes, at times it was derivative. Yes, at times the dialogue was clunky. But it had some good visuals and the story was enjoyable - we had a good time.Two weeks ago I checked our various nest boxes and the one usually occupied by great tits was completely empty.
I assumed that they weren’t going to use it this year but in the last week we have noticed the male singing away nearby and one or the other of the pair leaving the box a few times.
A quick check with my inspection camera on Sunday revealed a completed nest and at least one egg.Finished reading Donald J Robertson’s Stoicism and the Art of Happiness. A pretty easy read and good introduction to modern Stoicism. If I had to give it one criticism I’d say it is a tad repetitive, I would imagine partly because it’s part of a Teach Yourself series. I will probably read it through again in a bit more detail in due course.
Delving into Stoicism, I’d not realised at all that it has experienced a resurgence in the last few years.Did Axel Scheffler invent guinea pigs?I have ordered a handheld recorder.
I often use my phone to record birdsong or ambient sounds but obviously the quality is not great. Field recording appeals and I’d like to ‘collect’ sounds more. The kit that is coming means I can dip my toe into it a bit more and make some better quality recordings, all without spending vast amounts upfront.My wife and I had the day off so we walked around Westhay Nature Reserve. So many warblers and so much sound! Numerous sightings, the most notable of which were the first hobby, common whitethroat and swifts of the year, plus house martins and a redpoll. Heard about 3 cuckoos. And good to see several pairs of great crested grebes and their nests.
With all the busyness of late, it was good to have a chance to catch up and talk over a few things.I have this weird thing going on with the blog and Netlify. When I upload a post to GitHub, Netlify is set to deploy automatically. Now, the auto deploy occurs but doesn’t load the post. So I have to trigger a deploy manually, which works sometimes but not always. Hmmmmm. Time to get onto the Netlify forum.I use Drafts every day. One of the many frequent tasks I use it for is saving links to articles. I’ve only just discovered that if I select some text in said article it gets saved in the draft as well. That is so useful - how did I not know this before!?Very early to bed last night so only saw the verdict this morning. Guilty on all counts. I really wasn’t confident of which way it would go. I am relieved that it is this way. Even if it is too much of a stretch to say this is the beginning of a change, I hope that it is the beginning of the beginning.I’ve learnt that the underlying principles of CBT come from Stoicism. I can’t recall where I read that now, but I’ve spent the last few days down the Stoic rabbit hole. I’ve binge-listened to a number of podcasts on the topic. I’ve made a list of books both contemporary and classical to read. To start me off I’ve bought Donald J Robertson’s Stoicism and the Art of Happiness. It’s at the self-help end of the spectrum but because the author is a psychotherapist it goes into how CBT and Stoicism relate to each other.I’ve made a rudimentary archive page for the blog. Largely for my own benefit as I had no way to search through posts quickly. When I get a moment I will create a link for the home page and spend some time tidying it up, adding pagination etc.Met up for a picnic and walk with friends yesterday. A somewhat chilly picnic but it warmed up as the afternoon went on. Just a relief to be able to get out and meet up. Quite busy, everyone enjoying their freedom but it was interesting how people were considerate, made an effort to maintain social distancing and most noticeably, seemed rather quiet and tired. Like we have all come out of our burrows, bleary-eyed and blinking in the sunshine.Apple finally admits its products are difficult to repair | Grist
At the start of the year, the French government began requiring makers of smartphones and laptops to assign their products a “repairability” score based on how easy they are to fix
This is a step in the right direction. I’d like to see something similar in the UK.Still trying to get my head around how Hugo implements RSS. I thought I was there but then realised that my feed is only showing summaries of posts and not the full content. I know I edited the rss.xml file so that full content would be shown, but given the above, have to conclude that it was the wrong file.
However, since then I read that it could be due to using a older version of Hugo, which is something I know I need to address.Sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine a short while ago we heard the chatter of a swallow and there it was, one of ours, on its favourite spot on the telephone wires.Setting the clocks forward an hour last weekend should dictate that I have trouble waking up early enough. So as the exception to prove the rule, I have woken at about 4:30am most mornings since, which a week ago would have been 3:30am. Go figure.
I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for more swallows but none so far beyond the lone arrival on Tuesday.
Thursday was exceptionally hazy with Saharan dust.Beautiful weather today. Blue skies, warm sun and a warm breeze. And on that presumably Mediterranean airflow, surprise surprise, my first swallow of the year.Watched two films over the weekend.
The White Tiger. I found it really compelling. Reminded me of F. Scott Fitzgerald in its portrayal of the wealthy, their careless use of privilege and the subsequent damage to those around them. Balram’s charisma made me want to root for him, but in his efforts to break away from poverty, his means-to-an-end methods render him no better.
Annihilation. Oozes atmosphere. The ideas explored are thought provoking as any good sci-fi should be.Had the invitation to get my Covid jab. All booked in for next Saturday. Went for an early appointment to hopefully give me time to get past any side effects over the weekend.Found myself in circumstances earlier this week that set off major anxiety. I should have known it would happen as the anticipation had been rumbling around my head for days. It was the full on racing-thoughts-angry-sweating-tight-chested-backed-into-a-corner-fight-or-flight variety. Carried on for much of the day so I was exhausted by the end.
What did help though was discussing it with my wife. She could see it going on so very sensibly suggested we take a moment to talk it over.Cardhop for Mac by Flexibits looks like a useful app but it has a half-eaten sandwich as an icon. Which is just plain wrong.Further to my post about the sonic boom, the evidence for the meteor theory stacks up.Yesterday afternoon, out in the garden. At 2.55pm a loud boom up in the sky, just to the south. A little like the sound of the live firing we sometimes hear from Salisbury Plain, when the MoD are playing with their toys.
Except this sound didn’t stop there. It continued with a kind of stuttering, throbbing quality, like a whole series of lesser ‘booms’, appearing to move to the west. For perhaps half a minute.The topic of what to do about the next phase of life has come up a lot in discussions between my wife and I of late. Although, to be honest, this particular discussion is one that has continued on and off for the entirety of our life together. And the ’next phase’ is just the subsequent few years or decade following on from wherever we are at a given point in time.I rarely use titles for posts. When I imported my data from Wordpress to Hugo all those posts without a title automatically received the distinctly unglamorous moniker ‘None’.
I could go through all them all and remove the offending front matter by hand. I have done so with a few. But I think it much more fun to set myself the challenge of writing a Widgety-Bash-Thingummy to do it all for me.Looks like I won’t be getting my vaccine until at least May due to a shortage. I can’t say it overly bothers me as I am low risk and I’m certainly not going to burden myself with trying to get my head around what politicians are saying or not saying about what is behind the shortage.I’ve fallen into the trap of fiddling around with the code for my blog rather than actual blogging. Having moved from Wordpress to Hugo, as per my plan, I’ve been working on IndieWebifying the site.
The most important aspect for me was to get webmentions working. I think this is working now. It did take a some joining of the dots for a non-techy person but I got there in the end.Morning walk with the dog. Another bright and frosty one. Lots of bird activity. Heard my first blackcap of the year, so another spring migrant arrives. Still plenty of fieldfares, redwings and starlings.
Over the weekend we had a flock of perhaps 3000 starlings hanging around, the biggest I’ve ever seen here. I had assumed it was part of the dispersal of the winter visitor population back to their summer grounds but according to this article in the Guardian it’s quite the opposite.Received a letter from the NHS inviting me to take part in their ongoing research into COVID-19 levels. Selection is at random and taking part is entirely voluntary - I am happy to do my bit and become a statistic.
It involves a short survey and then I’ll receive a test kit in the post which will be collected by a courier once I’ve done it.There is a lane near us running alongside some woodland that is open to the public. It’s fair to say the road has seen an increase in traffic over the pandemic, given more people seem to be using the wood for exercise. As a result the already poor road surface has deteriorated badly with several potholes opening up.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed red marker paint around the worst of the holes.Warm enough to sit out in the garden with a cup of coffee - always an important marker in the spring. The blue tits are very busy around the nest box, watched them bossing other birds around, doing display flights and so on.A frosty start followed by a beautiful sunny day. Heard a chiffchaff - the first spring migrant of the year. Possibly the earliest I’ve ever heard one.Harumph. My Nextcloud server has stopped working. I have had a poke around, and it looks like it may be something to do with the SSL certificate auto-renewing. I get an error message telling me one of the key files is missing. Except it is quite clearly there. This is where my lack of knowledge shows up. When something goes wrong.
I guess this is the challenge for a non-tech person trying to DIY their blog/website/internet experience.I have now created a basic website for the blog using Hugo. I’ve gone the GitHub/Netlify route so have a local repository on the Raspberry pi which I can then push to GitHub. Netlify then automatically deploys the site. I’ve yet to redirect my domain there and will hold off from doing so while I do further tinkering.
I had wondered how I would go about posting to the site, so I spent some time last weekend fiddling around.So that’s the end of the cold snap. It is so different out there this morning - calm, misty and a positively balmy 9C.
Over the last couple of days the cold weather has emboldened the birds again and this time a song thrush came to the bird table. They do come into the garden frequently but I’ve never seen one come this close to the house.
It was very cautious initially, spending a lot of time looking around before dipping its head to take some food.Eng v Ind. Having seen how much turn there was on day 1 you know it’s going to be hard for England batting 2nd. And is it just. India are having their day - Ashwin’s bowling of Stokes was superb.Having got up at 4am for the start of the Eng v Ind test yesterday, it’s too much of a stretch to do so again today. Root is looking very relaxed out there, on 182 as I write this. Top of his game. 🏏It’s blowy, wet and cold out there this morning. But I could hear a blackbird singing. First one of the year. And not it’s winter sub-song but the full-phrase version.
So while it’s still winter in that damp way we seem to specialise in here, you can hear spring coming.Watched the first episode of Lupin. I’m always a sucker for a good heist story and thoroughly enjoyed it. Netflix automatically started showing it in the English dubbed version but I much preferred it in the original French with subtitles.A couple centimetres of snow this morning. Funny how that completely changes the dynamic of the bird interactions at our feeders. As a rule each species tends to keep a respectful distance from each other. The sparrows are a boisterous lot and are generally a bit much for the blue tits. But then the robins usually see off the sparrows, and pretty much anyone else. Today, particularly on the table where we put old apples and bird seed, they were all piling in, the need for food taking precedence over any kind of hierarchy.The sun is out and I’ve got Test Match Special on the radio, listening to Eng v Sri Lanka. If I ignore the just-above-zero temperature and the possibility of snow later on, I could almost imagine it’s summer.The hosting for my blog is up for renewal in a month or so. It occurred to me to look into the viability of using the raspberry pi as the web server, making it a truly self-hosted blog.
From what I’ve read it should be ok for a site that doesn’t have much traffic - that’s definitely mine! I will try setting up a dummy site before making it live, probably using a ‘flat file’ type cms.Good to see Michael Rosen is back broadcasting again after having Covid.Am a bit shocked to discover I have put on weight over the past year. Not that I am overweight buy any means, but given I am pretty active and have a healthy diet in terms of types of food, I have been quite clearly just eating too much. Having acquired a Garmin fitness watch a year ago and made an effort to maintain and improve my fitness it’s not so nice to see I have taken a retrograde step.Got our son’s gear for school sorted out today, all with half an ear on the news waiting for the almost inevitable closure. Got a ‘welcome back’ email from his headteacher this morning. Just received the ‘school closure’ one a short while ago. I bet she wrote both at the same time….Glad I cleaned out one of the nest boxes a few days ago as a blue tit has been having a look already. Better get the others done.More fiddling around with the Raspberry pi over the break. Managed to add an SSL certificate to the Nextcloud server using Certbot which has very easy to use instructions on the website. Next on the list is to learn about and implement some Bash scripts and cron jobs so that I can have to pi doing regular back-ups and such.Somerset has been moved into tier 4 from today so the few tentative plans to meet with friends have been shelved.
This morning we went to Sainsbury’s to collect our groceries. It’s the first time we’ve done click & collect for the food shopping - we get our thrills where we can in our brave new Covid world. Curiously, the arrangement is to rendezvous with a Sainsbury’s delivery van in a corner of their own car park, as if some shady deal is going down.Finished The City & the City by China Miéville.
This first came to my attention via the 2018 mini-series based on it. It’s as much, if not more, about its ideas as it is about the plot. I will think about it for a long time. Will read again.Most of the current affairs podcasts I listen to have released their usual year-in-review episodes. Strangely, I don’t have the slightest urge to listen to any of them.I’ve done some further twiddling, port forwarding on the router and such like and my Raspberry pi Nextcloud server is now accessible remotely.On Sunday I set up a self-hosted Nextcloud server on the Raspberry Pi, using a spare USB flash drive for storage. This tutorial made it a relatively easy process to do, for a non-tech person, although I did make an error along the way that required going through and checking everything a couple of times.
I can now access the files stored on the server from my home network. Next stop, set up remote access.In case you wake up wondering where Voyagers 1 and 2 are currently located, NASA has this handy mission status page.Work/eat/sleep and repeat. That’s what the last two weeks have felt like. It’s always like this for these darkest weeks of the year. There have been a few sunny days, or part days, but also a lot of murk. Days without form or void.
I don’t much like driving at this time of year. Dazzling headlights, spray and poor visibility make it hard work. An hour’s drive in thick fog on Monday was not fun at all.Time I closed some tabs methinks.I came over here to do something, realised I needed a thing so I could do the something, went off to get the thing, but on the way forgot what it was I was going to get.I’ve got up far too early for a Sunday. For any day, come to that. I decided it would be a good idea to set up the Xbox in advance of Christmas and load a couple of games onto it. Mainly so the process doesn’t dominate Christmas Day. That way, it can be presented to my son ‘oven ready’, to use a topical phrase, only in the case of the Xbox, it may actually be true.Booted up the Raspberry Pi this afternoon for the first time. Used a redundant monitor, keyboard and mouse. It feels good to repurpose old gear that is sitting around unused. I’ve also set up VNC so I can use my iPad as a monitor.
For the time being I’ve loaded Raspbian and I’ll probably keep it this way for the time being while I get used to using it. However, I’ve no doubt that I will fairly quickly get around to wanting to try some other setups.Spending a fair amount of time each day since Tuesday trying to sort out problems with our business email is not my idea of fun. But I think we are there now.
This all came about due to my increasing dissatisfaction with Apple and tech in general, or more specifically, the business model that much of tech is based on, namely built-in obsolescence and the lack of control over individual’s data.Tonight I am picking up an Xbox One S for my 11yr old. Just for him. The only reason I am also getting Red Dead Redemption 2 is so that _I _can test the Xbox works.In light of recent events across the pond, it has been good to experience the feeling that not everything is wrong with the world. Not that everything is right, not by a long shot. But to be reminded of what it used to feel like, to have hope, to believe in our future.Automations on iOS 14 are so much better now that they can be set up to run, er, automatically.
Except when they don’t. Run at all.Why have I not come across Todo.txt before? As a .txt file zealot an’ all.A day off for my wife and I and a lovely one at that. A walk in Wiltshire followed by cooking up lunch in the van. Very grateful for it to have coincided with such good weather and autumn colours.Had a long chat with the Aged Parents about their moving plans and contrary to my concerns they seem to be taking a more realistic and pragmatic approach to things. It’s strange, edging closer to being a carer, not that they need ‘care’ as such yet, but greater involvement is going to become the norm.I’m glad it’s the weekend and I can have a lie in. This last week was supposed to be straightforward but haha, not so.
Thursday afternoon, I had an unexpected change to my day which threw the good old anxiety into overdrive. The first time in a while that I have had such a big reaction and it left me exhausted. It all ran over into Friday where every small thing seemed imbued with far greater stress and significance than was really the case.Last night, the Tories voted down Labour’s motion to extend free school meals during the holidays to disadvantaged children. My son enjoys maths so this morning we did a rough calculation to find out the cost to the Treasury of the scheme, had it been voted through.
According to this article in the Guardian, it would affect 1.4 million children. The vouchers are worth £15 per week, and there are four weeks holiday between now and Easter, which is when it was proposed the scheme would run until.Had a problem with the contact form on our business’s website. Loads of spam plus genuine contacts were being labelled as spam too. In looking to solve this I considered using Captcha. In reading about it I discovered it’s a Google thing and, unsurprisingly, collects a lot of data.
So I won’t be installing that then.One morning this last week I stepped outside at first light. It was very still and quiet. My attention was drawn to the sound of redwings overhead. The first I’ve seen this autumn. Just a few small flocks but a sure sign of the turning of the seasons. Later on the same day I saw a handful of swallows. Another remnant of summer. Two species who’s combined migratory range extends from Siberia to South Africa.Back in April I said I’d write about my experience with CBT. And I have tried many times to do so. The Summer of Weirdness has made it very difficult to find the headspace to reflect on anything, let alone something as intense as therapy. I’ve decided it’s just too much to try and go back and unpick my thoughts in detail about it, but for what it’s worth, here’s a brief summary.One of the reasons I switched to a Wordpress site for my blog was to use the IndieWeb plugin, in particular to enable webmentions. It takes a little more work to implement than a straightforward post but I like being able to do so. The ethos of the IndieWeb has a lot of appeal. Only thing is, I haven’t used them as much as I could.
I have saved links to numerous posts I that I’ve come across on other people’s blogs, with the intention of referencing them in my own posts via webmentions.Shared some of my experiences of anxiety with a close family member yesterday. Feel horribly exposed about even though the conversation went ok. Very much in two minds about the benefit of doing so.In the first four days of October we have had two–three times the rainfall that we had throughout the whole of September.
Over the past week we have had the first frost, first evening with the wood burner lit, and the first mornings with the heating on. A small flock of mistle thrushes was in the chestnut tree in the church yard next door - we occasionally see a pair around here, but to see a flock can only mean they are winter migrants from the continent.The Covid test came back negative, for which I’m pleased. Just over 24hrs from test to result so not bad given some of the stories reported. Just one day of self-isolation and back to normal tomorrow.An unforeseen and quite entertaining byproduct of using a vpn is I now get embedded adverts in the language of where the vpn server is, currently Holland.Started to feel a bit unwell yesterday. Had a high temperature this morning so after checking the NHS website realised I had to go and get a Covid test. Our nearest site was just 40 mins away and meant a very pleasant drive in the autumn sunshine. Had to do the test myself which wasn’t awful, but not very nice either. Just got to self-isolate now, at least until we get the result back.Feeling pretty pleased having managed to successfully replace the battery in an old iPhone 5S, with the intention of making it my son’s first phone. Done for less then 20 quid.Went out on the mountain bike this morning, up into the hills. Lovely light. Got to say, exercise seems to be one of the best ways to work off the morning’s cortisol, anxiety and stomach butterflies.Linking notes in an organised fashion along the lines of a zettelkasten is an idea that appeals, as I make notes and save things to read later all the time. I could do this in Drafts but like Bear notes, another option, the notes are saved in iCloud, and I don’t think they are in plaintext or other easy to migrate format. I think it was via Neil Mather that I came across TiddlyWiki.If I’m honest, I have to admit that part of the reason I will listen to so many podcasts is so I don’t have to listen to the stream of negative horseshit that my mind seems to produce if left to its own devices. Something to work on there, methinks.
In the last two days I’ve seen and/or heard kingfishers in two different locations. They do seem to get very vocal at this time of year.I am grateful to those who can write or speak honestly about their battle with mental illness. The above post from Sameer Vasta popped up in my feed today. It isn’t easy to be open about the things that go on in our heads, but what I can say to those who do, it is so valuable. Thank you.Dorothy L Sayers Clouds of WitnessThe swallows have definitely left now, the odd straggler around, possibly the late brood feeding up before leaving. Heard a Little owl during the night, the first I’ve heard this autumn. Various warblers on the move as well: willow warblers, chiffchaffs, and blackcaps.NoneIt might be my over active imagination, but golden hour seems to be continuing longer after sunrise than I’d normally expect. I wonder if there are enough particulates from the US wildfires in the atmosphere here to cause a noticeable effect?Am making the most of watching and listening to our swallows before they depart for South Africa. I shall miss having them around.In case you wondered….Why wasps become so annoying at the end of summerI’m kind of done with Apple. In the sense of being loyal to the ecosystem. I’ve always had a slight reluctance to go all in with their native apps anyway. What if I want to move to a different system at a later date?
Migrating information out of Apple always looks less than ideal. Hence, for example, I like to use a plain text file system for notes, stored in Dropbox, rather than the native Notes app.Off to see Mum today. Up early, away by 7am. An easy drive and beautiful light. Gold and blue. A skein of geese passing over the motorway.
A much needed conversation. In a good way. Dad’s health, mind and moving forward. Concerns laid bare. Mum feeling looked after.
Practicalities. Sorted a problem with their phone.
Then back home. A different route to avoid the holiday traffic.
Exhausted. But worth it.My siblings and I have been using Signal for group chats of late, often about the aged parents. Over the last few days the topic of Dad’s cognitive state has been top of the list, wondering if there is confusion and such starting to show. A few days ago my brother reported a conversation that was markedly scrambled.
For the Bank Holiday weekend we had planned something relaxing. A slow Saturday, meeting up with friends tomorrow, and maybe a day of catching up on some jobs on Monday.Well done Jimmy, on that 600th wicket! 🏏Am finding that my time spent on meditation seems to be a cue for my brain to run through lists.NoneAnother walk today, on the chalk hills in Dorset. Managed to dodge the showers. Just over 7k.Brian Eno Music for Installations - perfect to drift off to. 🎵171 - what an innings for Zak Crawley so far…🏏Day off today, so we got up early and hoofed it off to Exmoor. Arrived in the fog, cooked up pancakes and then went for a walk in the belated sunshine. Paddled in a stream, cooked up lunch, sat around enjoying the warmth and then wandered home. Feel better for that.Am working my way through the back catalogue of The Hilarious World of Depression podcast.
It’s funny, moving and encouraging. Occasionally, someone says something which really nails it in some way.
John Moe, the host, on moving to a place of recognition and healing;
And when all that stuff falls away you start to realise all the time you’ve lost, all the things you’ve missed out on. Relationships, opportunities, wisdom, peace.Watched Rogue One for our family Star Wars season - not sure if it’s the second or third time. Love it. The two weird uncanny-valley CGI characters aside, that is. Otherwise everything is right with it.Was awake in the night due to the heat. Heard a curious sound outside. A repeated wheezing call. A bit of research and discovered it was the begging call of juvenile tawny owls. I think there must have been two of them. Good to know ‘our’ tawny’s have successfully reared young this year.In regard to taking meds, I’d like to run a control version of myself in parallel so that I can identify what and if the meds are doing anything useful.
I make notes about effects that I attribute to them. I then read the notes later and wonder if they actually have anything to do with the meds at all.Apart from a bit of lightning in the distance last night, am most disappointed to have missed out on the thunderstorms overnight. There is still thundery cloud about this morning, so maybe we’ll be in luck today, however, it’s quite a bit cooler so the chance may have passed.Read Dissolution by C J Sansom. Already familiar with the story from the BBC radio adaptation, although it’s long enough ago that I listened to it to have forgotten who it was what dunnit.
Set during the time of the dissolution of the monasteries, it’s a conventional but enjoyable and pacy historical murder mystery. Greed, lust, power, class and pond drainage. Somewhat in the vein of Ellis Peters’ Cadfael series but with more bodily fluids.🎥 As part of our Disney+ summer binge, we watched Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones last night. I had not seen it before, not being a dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars fan, but we are working our way through the whole series.
Well, I knew it got some bad reviews and I can see why. I am not going to waste my breath on what I thought was wrong with it other than to say it felt like a lot longer than the 2+ hours running time.🏏 An enjoyable and gripping match between England and Pakistan. A good win for England and am glad to see Buttler demonstrate why he is in the team.After a curiously murky and muggy day, I’m glad the skies have cleared. Enjoying sitting outside this evening watching the fading light. It’s very still, the sounds of distant traffic, a few birds and my dog rummaging under the pear tree for fallers.Have been finding it difficult to write anything of a personal nature at the moment. A few days ago I started writing about how, since the start of the lockdown, I have finally reached a kind of equilibrium. Adaptation to the new normal, at least, the current new normal.
It almost feels like emotional numbness. Maybe it is. While here in the SW we have experienced little of Covid itself, living with the lockdown measures has been a strain, as it has for everyone else.🍿Watched: Murder on the Orient Express. The Kenneth Branagh version.
Sumptuous. Which is what I expect from a Poirot.
And what a moustache.Given that everyone in the UK has decided to go camping this year, we are making the most of it and selling surplus camping/van gear on eBay.
It’s a few years since I last sold anything on eBay and I had forgotten about all the emails asking questions …
Can I collect? No, it’s delivery only, like it says in the listing
Can you post it? No, it’s collect only, like it says in the listing🏏 A good series win for England yesterday and great to see Stuart Broad has still got it.Signed up to Disney+ so that we can binge on some stuff over the summer. Might only do it for a couple of months but given my son currently lives and breathes Star Wars, seems like a good idea.After nearly deleting Omnifocus, I paid for a month’s subscription and have been giving some more time to it. But I have also been using Things 3. I bought this for my iPad quite a while ago and enjoyed using it other than it being very date focussed, which doesn’t really suit my style. In addition it doesn’t have an equivalent of perspectives in Omnifocus.
However, since I last used Things, a comprehensive URL scheme has been implemented and this is a game changer, enabling the creation of Shortcuts in IOS that emulate perspectives pretty well.A bike ride up on the hills with my son and a friend. Somehow managed to time it to coincide with a spell of heavy rain. So warm though and little wind, it didn’t matter. Nice to try out the bike upgrades.Watched Free Solo again, this time my son watched as well. Alex Honnold makes thought provoking comments throughout the film about fear and dealing with it. Timestamps noted so that I can go through later and jot down the bits that got my attention.Just managed to get a peep at comet Neowise. The sky is still rather light in the NE but Neowise looked good through the binoculars. What is more impressive is Jupiter to the SE. Very bright and visible as a disc through the binoculars and 4 of its moons very clear as well. Blows the mind.While doing the brakes etc on my bike I noticed the rear tyre was in bad shape. Ordered a Maxxis Minion (which amuses my son no end) this week, fitted it this morning. Went for a slightly fatter tyre which should make for a better ride on the rough stuff.Watched Free Solo. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Beautifully shot. Am fascinated by stories of people pushing the boundaries of what is physically and mentally possible - an extraordinary feat. Mr Honnold, I salute you.Took the day off on Monday for a family birthday. Went for a walk in a Wiltshire nature reserve we discovered last year. So very peaceful. Much needed.Beautiful mackerel sky this morning.🎵Listening to…Jon Hopkins - Insides. What a brilliant album. The track Light through the veins sounded familiar. It’s on the intro and outro to Coldplay’s Viva la vida. Turns out Brian Eno, who produced the album, got Jon Hopkins on board as well. Coldplay evidently liked his work!Test cricket is back in the UK tomorrow! No crowds, so the absence of the buzz will be strange, but hey, it’s cricket 🏏Further to my plans to fit new brakes on my bike, I ordered some that were suitable, which duly arrived a week or so ago. All good to go.
Only I had not paid attention to the existing brake levers, the ones that are quite literally in front of me when I’m riding. They are combined brake levers/gear shifters….
Why I’d not thought of that before ordering the new ones, I’m not sure.I have been messing around with OmniFocus. Again.
I tried it maybe a couple of years ago, but couldn’t quite justify committing to it. I think I might be heading the same way again.
I love the perspectives. And the organisation of projects.
But the lack of quick entry of tasks, a la Fantastical or Todoist is probably a deal breaker. And then I discovered that deferred tasks no longer show up in the Forecast view if the start date passes.I’ve just come out of a particularly long rabbit hole. Have spent the last 10 days or so obsessively learning more about automation and scripting in the context of task managers, URL schemes, Drafts and Shortcuts.
One of those occasions where the enjoyment of discovery meant other things didn’t get my attention, like reading and blogging.
I think my efforts have paid off. I have to get on now and use what I’ve learnt and not just continue trying out more ideas.DEVS. Got to episode 5. Don’t think I can be arsed with watching anymore. Too much staring into space, the void, whatever.The other day, our old boy bumped into a lamp post. His vision is not so good now, as he has cataracts. Along with prodigious eyebrows, as is befitting a dog of his breed and age.
I have a theory that the cataracts diffuse direct sunlight, such that it blurs his vision beyond that which the cataracts do. I once mentioned this to a human who had cataracts (but not prodigious eyebrows) and she bore out my theory.And carrying on with the Wiltshire landscape theme of yesterday’s post, here’s something of a significant discovery made public today…Vast neolithic circle of deep shafts found near Stonehenge | Science | The GuardianWent for a short family walk on the Wiltshire Downs that turned into a respectable 6k. Wildflowers and birds and a big sky. Skylark, whitethroat, blackcap, yellow hammer, corn bunting and willow warbler.
Took this photo from a long barrow. And according to the map, crossed a Roman road. History beneath our feet.NoneHave been looking at new bikes. I don’t need one. And frankly, finding one I’d want at the moment is not that easy.
My son and I have been cycling more of late. He is on a bigger bike now and is far more capable so that opens up many new possibilities.
I bought my bike secondhand some years ago. It’s a mish-mash of components, some good, some not so good.Rumbles of thunder coming from the north.Blogging for me is a way to process thoughts. This is mostly an in-out system. Stuff happens, I think about it, I write.
Not everything ends up on the blog. Many sentences jotted down go no further. But things that need working out in more depth will probably end up as a post.
For the last week though, I’ve been in a log-jam. Too much to process.
Statues, protests, police violence, BLM, climate change, coronavirus, those that have, those that don’t, will a relation need cancer treatment, no school until September, how will we manage that, how are my elderly parents really doing, what kind of world is my son growing up in, the van needs a service, I’d like more sleep.These 4 young blackbirds in a nest in our garden are not far off leaving. Am sitting outside enjoying a beer, and can hear the noise they all make when a parent brings them food.NoneLast year, I was voraciously reading forum posts and articles relating to mental illness. It was the early days after my wake up call and I was trying to learn as much as I could. From time to time I would come across someone voicing the question ‘Where do I end and my mental illness begin?’
It was reassuring to see others express this as it reflected what was going through my mind.Flexibits have removed the annoying pop-up prompts to sign up for the premium version of Fantastical on iOS. It is now much more pleasant to use again. The natural language input is just brilliant and being able to use actions in Drafts for setting up events makes for a really useful workflow.
I am still yet to be convinced that the premium version is worth it, much as I would like to have access to Fantastical on the Mac.Switching my Wordpress theme to SemPress recently, I didn’t realise it lacked a search function. The previous theme did and it was handy to have as I have trouble remembering when I wrote something.
So a bit of fiddling to do with the website this weekend.The lockdown has given us a pretty unique perspective on what is important and what is not, particularly in terms of how we spend our time.
I am at much the same place as you Colin, and it _feels _like this is a moment in life in which to re-evaluate, an opportunity not to be missed. But as to what to change, and how, I don’t know. I hope you find your way…Facebook Says Very Little on Privacy of Messenger Rooms
No surprises there, then.
The leopard never changes its spots…Changed our business email hosting provider over the weekend. A fairly straightforward process other than changing the MX records. Used the live chat support to find out what they need to be changed to. It took nearly an hour for them to do it.
Maybe there was a genuine reason for why it took so long but anyway. Got it sorted eventually. And the new system is a lot easier to manage.Thoughts have not come easily for the last few days. A flatness in my mind, probably induced in part by a lack of sleep, which in turn is brought on by the short nights and hayfever.
Having finally developed a sense of stability around The Situation for the moment, a kind of ennui has settled in. Not a frame of mind I particularly go for.
This is neither thoroughly unpleasant nor very enjoyable.Two trips for groceries over the last couple of weeks. Both times - no paella rice, no couscous and no…..rinse aid. Rinse aid? Really don’t get that one.Two podcast episodes I have enjoyed this week: one old, one new, both related to Roman Mars.
Scientists use the opportunity the world being in lockdown presents to conduct research that would otherwise be impossible… 401- The Natural Experiment - 99% Invisible
And a weird code related quirk… 140 The Roman Mars Mazda Virus - Reply AllHeard my first cuckoo of the year. Which presupposes that I will hear more. Quite likely not.Naomi Klein, writing about how big tech plans to profit from the pandemic, acknowledges that:
However, she goes on to ask these vital questions about our relationship with tech:A family walk this morning. Took a trip out to the Somerset Levels, now that we are allowed to travel a bit more.
Lots of birds - but no cuckoos. Swifts, sedge warblers, curlews, reed buntings, skylarks, egrets and swans.
Meadows looking lovely. Lots of flowers including orchids (Southern Marsh?).
Drama in the garden when we returned. Birds giving alarm calls - turned out a great spotted woodpecker was having a crack at the box where the great tits are nesting.Came across this research paper on social anxiety disorder and one sentence stood out, as it sheds some light on the unresolved question of how can it take so long to realise there is something going on:
Makes me feel better.Some apprehension today, as I am expecting it to be busier out and about, on the back of the government’s announcement encouraging a return to work.
I hope, I really do, that people will be considerate and make the effort to social distance themselves in busier places, with more of us around. Most people are considerate, but I’ve seen enough of the small number who aren’t to think it a legitimate concern.NoneFor a bird with a reputation for being secretive, jays make an almighty racket when the occasion calls for it.
Yesterday, a walk in the woods. A jay kicks off in the trees above me. Spotted movement amongst the branches. There it was, getting in the face of a tawny owl. It would fly onto the branch next to the owl, squawk in its face and fly off again. Meanwhile, she would give a little ‘tu-whit’ in response.The swifts have arrived, screaming of summer.Is there a good source of secondhand books in the UK that isn’t Abebooks? While it is a good website it’s still another part of the Kingdom of Amazon, and I’m trying to avoid all things Bezos.A while back Colin Walker commented on a post of mine:
Fortunately, we are more aware of mental health issues today, certainly compared to how it was when I was growing up. Prior to facing up to my own issues I considered that I had a basic appreciation of what having a mental illness meant. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Learning about the condition I live with has entailed finding out about mental health issues more generally.International Dawn Chorus Day
Got out into the garden this morning to listen to the dawn chorus, and made these two recordings. Stereo recording, best listened to with headphones for full immersion.
First one at 5:15am, mainly blackbirds and robins. It started to rain as I recorded so you can hear that too.
strandlines · 030520 0515 Dawn Chorus
Second recording, made at 6:00am and the sound profile has changed - many more species.Finished reading and enjoyed Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. 📚Here in the UK, the guidance on what constitutes a reasonable excuse to leave the house includes ‘driving to countryside and walking (where far more time is spent walking than driving)’. We took this at face value yesterday and drove to a local spot for a 3 mile walk in woodland. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed bluebells and the fresh green of new beech leaves. There were a few other walkers about but everyone was considerate and sensible.Cryptomnesia /ˌkrɪptəmˈniːzɪə/ • n when I have a great idea or thought only to learn that my wife made the very same suggestion just a few days prior.It is a year ago today since I first recognised something of what was going on with my mental health. It has been a long 12 months, going through various states of mind as I have tried to come to terms with it all.
I haven’t posted much on the subject of late, largely because I have been receiving CBT since January and it is prettty intense. I have now finished the course except for a couple of follow up sessions and it seems a good time to reflect on both the therapy and the last year.Have intended to give sourdough a go for a little while now, so with it being the Thing To Do while we are hunkered down in our vaults, I decided now was the time. Got some great advice from Jeremy Cherfas over at Micro.blog on getting a starter going, so thanks to him.
Started one last weekend and then this weekend made my first loaf. Really quite pleased with it.About 20 years ago, we went travelling in Canada, and part of our time was spent driving across the prairie in Alberta and Saskatchewan. It is a fascinating landscape and so very different from ours here in the UK. It was also a disconcerting experience, and much as I enjoyed it I also found it oppressive. I put this down to the geography. In the UK you always know more or less where you are.A walk in the woods…to see the bluebells. Freshened by this morning’s rain, they seemed to glow with their own internal light source. Trees alive with the songs of blackcaps, chiffchaffs, goldcrests and tree creepers.Tonight I ventured to the supermarket. Two items of note;
* my wife wrote a shopping list which included 1 block of strength 3 Cheddar cheese, 1 block of strength 4. I misread it and bought 3 blocks and 4 blocks respectively. So inadvertently I have now stockpiled cheese…. * while waiting at the checkout a customer gave the young woman working the till a bunch of flowers, at which she promptly burst into tears.Watched Bumblebee with the family yesterday. I have zero investment in the Transformers world but thought it very enjoyable. My 10yr old gave it a big thumbs up. Really liked the ’80s milieu and cultural references. Good to see a female protagonist and thought the CGI was good - the robots had solidity and weight to them. A fun family action film with a lot of heart.The blue tits that are using the nest box in our garden are getting much busier. Nest building is very much underway as can be seen in the picture below. I built and installed the box last year, and what they don’t know is that it has a hinged roof, so I can take a peek inside. This is not just from idle curiosity but so that I can record the nest activity for the BTO Nest Record Scheme.As any parent will know, boundaries are there for children to test. And for my 10 year old, that means the physical boundaries - of our garden. Footballs, rugby balls, cricket balls, a space hopper (remember those? Yes, we have one). They all make frequent trips over the fence into our neighbours garden or the field. My 10 year old’s power output currently far outstrips his accuracy and control.
Much as it frustrates me at times when I have to go and find a ball for the umpteenth time, I have to remind myself that this testing of the boundaries will stand him in good stead later in life.Some positives from the last week or so…
For the second time in a week I have seen a peregrine falcon. This one was circling about a hundred metres above me - the heavier build was a give away, distinguishing it from our other falcons and hawks. The white on its face catching the sun as it wheeled, it climbed higher and higher without so much as a flap of the wings.Warm enough to eat outside this evening while enjoying the sight and sound of our newly arrived visitors.In order to stay positive, I am trying to limit my intake of news. I want facts, not sensation. Even some of the output from those sources I deem to be more measured have arguably strayed into the unnecessary at times.
I also find decent analysis useful to listen to as well. I have recently subscribed to the podcast Outrage and Optimism. One of the hosts is Christiana Figueres, who led the work at the UN that resulted in the Paris Agreement.I wanted to read an adventure/mystery novel that was not in the usual thriller or crime genres that I tend to read when I am in the mood for a good yarn. Picked on Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, based on having heard of her and aware her books are popular. Big mistake - what should have been an intriguing mystery was let down by two-dimensional characters and pretty dull writing. I had hoped for an enjoyable if undemanding page turner, but it was not to be.Ran a new route this morning. I needed to increase my distance so worked out new a 4k circuit that took me on some new footpaths. Nice sunny morning - windy but much warmer. Saw my first swallow of the year to boot, plus a peregrine. Contentment inducing.Flock of fieldfares at PemberelyThe mad thing is, now that we have all become hunter-gatherers again, my wife and I are going into shops more than we ever normally would. While we are not completely out of staple goods, we are finding it nigh on impossible to restock them.
Our village farm shop are being brilliant at supplying fresh produce and dairy goods. And we are still getting our weekly veg box. Presumably the panic-buyers will at some point run out of space in which to stockpile?Don’t try this at home…As an IndieWeb newbie I am very much still getting to grips with many aspects of applying the principles to my Wordpress blog. I had been struggling with how to implement reply-contexts until I came across this article by Chris Aldrich where he explains very clearly how to use the Post Kinds plugin. I hadn’t discovered the Response Properties box available in the post editor up until this point, but now I have I can show neat looking links, excerpts and author details for anything that I am replying to or commenting on.Re struggling to write, the paradox is that it is at times like the last week or so when I want to write more. There is so much going on, so much to assimilate and adapt to, and yet actually distilling the jumble of thoughts and reactions is hard.The normally busy A303 at 8am on Friday. Felt like I was in a John Wyndham novel.I have found it hard to write this week. Anxiety, tiredness and addressing the banal have consumed any time or energy that I might otherwise have had to write. Thoughts have passed through my head and some I have even jotted down, but putting them together into something coherent has felt beyond my reach.
The beginning of the week was not easy. My wife and I are both self-employed and what with a lack of financial help from the government and the start of the lockdown, to say my anxiety went through the roof is not an overstatement.Heard my first Blackcaps of the year singing over the last couple of days. Still no swallows - with any luck they’ll turn up over the weekend. Bluetits still busy in the birdbox - don’t think they are building yet, a bit early. The robins seem to have been ousted from their nest box by a wren. They built their nest but a few days ago I realised that a wren was coming and going.The lockdown does not mean it is ok to drive down the middle of the road.Benjamen Walker, who’s Theory of Everything podcast is one of my regular listens, has started a new series called Social Distance Learning - a wry look at the Coronovirus pandemic.I and a friend were recently trying out Signal as a secure cross-platform messaging app, something to use for group chats where not everyone is using iMessage. I had heard good things about it and this was largely born out in our trial. And yet…
Given that it is privacy conscious people who likely to be drawn to it, why does Signal insist on notifying other users who have you in their contacts list that you have joined and vice versa?The weekend has arrived not a moment too soon. While there are a some practicalities to sort out I feel that some serious downtime is needed after a pretty draining week.
I am going to keep my news intake to the bare minimum. Go for a run. Maybe two. Watch a film. Read. Perhaps even a bit of gaming. Get out into the garden. And any of this could be on my own or with my family.For the lexophile, this episode of The Allusionist will calm the mind in troubled times.The number of people in our village who have offered to run errands is impressive. It’s really heartening to see. So we have some offering to shop for groceries, or go to the Post Office, someone who works in the local pharmacy who can collect and deliver prescriptions and the local farm shop are going to prepare frozen meals for those that need them. Good to see such community spirit!On further reflection it is probably for the best that we can’t get grocery deliveries online, as we are able to go out and hopefully it is those who need to self-isolate who are booking up the delivery slots. However, the cynic in me suspects that is not the case.
A business just down the road that supplies pubs and restaurants expects to last no more than a week, now that demand has disappeared.So far the Coronavirus has had little impact on us here in the south west of the UK. Schools are still open for the time being and we are largely able to work without making too many adjustments (so far).
What has become apparent just today is the effect of panic buying. We get our groceries delivered and on the back of a chance remark from someone we checked on the availability of delivery slots.Your query about a web player … would Song.link fit the bill?Our Victoria plum tree is covered in buds so am hoping for a good crop this year. Yesterday I spotted a pigeon happily devouring them so shooed it away. Last year we didn’t get a single fruit for the same reason. I’m glad I saw the pigeon as it prompted me to get some netting over said tree in order to prevent further loss of blossom. Me - 1, pigeons - 0.NetNewsWire - never used any previous iterations of it before. Loaded it onto my phone this week. Clean and simple interface. Fast loading. Easy to use. Easily beats any other RSS readers I’ve used. On my home screen.The birds are getting very busy in our garden. All three nest boxes have had attention of some sort.
A pair of robins are nesting in one while a pair of blue tits seem very interested in another, spending a lot of time checking it out. The final box has been visited by great tits although I’m not confident yet that they will use it.
And the song thrush still sings on every morning.Great win for Australia in the Women’s T20 World Cup. Not the nail-biter I was hoping for and disappointing for India, but a splendidly emphatic show from Australia.A few weeks back I mentioned seeing what I thought was a Barn owl . Since then, I am really pleased to have heard from two other people who have seen it, including being spotted hunting in a field not far from us. This is exactly what I have been hoping for - that it was finding prey in some of the rough grazing pasture around us.
As the evenings lengthen I hope to be able to get out around dusk and watch for it.🏏A real shame to see England knocked out of the Women’s T20 World Cup in this way. But them’s the rules.
However, now that Australia have beaten South Africa, I shall look forward to the Australia vs India final. And Poonam Yadav doing her thing.Woke in the night to the sound of wind lashing rain against the window - I don’t think I have ever heard it quite so loud before. Got up this morning to find the rain has moved through and the gales have subsided. Quite the contrast.
I have been trying to bring some sort of meditation/mindfulness practice into my daily routine, but lately I have let it slip. Work, CBT and some minor medical issues have been tiring.Having moved my blog to Wordpress, the first task was to choose an IndieWeb-friendly theme. Over at IndieWeb.org there is advice aplenty on what themes work well - I won’t pretend to understand it all yet. I have used Autonomie by Matthias Pfefferle. I like it’s minimalist look - no doubt some tinkering will occur.
The second task was to find a way to easily post to the blog without involving the ghastly Wordpress app.For the past few months my blog has been hosted on Micro.blog. I really like the frictionless nature of using it. I mentioned this in a post in which I also said that I was done with Wordpress. So why have I been fiddling around with a self-hosted Wordpress site for my blog for the last week?
Firstly, when I said I was done with Wordpress I was referring to Wordpress.I like days like this at the tail end of winter. Temperature up to 14C, a few trees starting to blossom and hawthorn coming into leaf in the hedges.🏏Have enjoyed the SA vs Eng series - good games overall. Now looking forward to the Women’s T20 World Cup.When I decided to write about my experience with mental illness I didn’t really have in mind how much or how often I would share my thoughts. It was a case of have a go and see where it led. What I definitely hadn’t given consideration to was what, and if, to write when I am not feeling so great.
Part of the exercise was about being honest about the experience, and it goes without saying that a big part of most mental illness is not feeling too good about yourself.🎵 listening to… Holocene - Bon IverJust in case you wondered… How the Met Office chooses storm names in the UK and IrelandOne reason I enjoy this time of year is the way bird song gathers pace. It is a long lead in before it might be called the dawn chorus, although when exactly that starts is a moot point. In my mind it is when Blackbirds start singing in numbers. Great tits are one of the earliest to start - often within the first two weeks of the year I will hear the joyous monotony of their song.Plan A was to go and do a bird survey this morning. Storm Ciara has rather put paid to that. Not that I am averse to being out in inclement weather but there are limits. Plus the practicalities of trying to see and count birds in rain and gales…
So to Plan B. Stay indoors, enjoy a roast with my family for lunch and recharge from a demanding week.I had a text from my bank telling me that from time to time, when I pay using contactless I will be asked to enter my PIN. Just to make sure it’s really me.
Next year, I imagine that when I enter my PIN, I will be occasionally asked to sign a small piece of paper - just to check that it really is me.So long 🇪🇺. For now.Session three of my CBT course this week. I was recommended for what they call High Intensity CBT and intense it most certainly is. For someone who’s sleep is not the best, this is one way to get a solid night’s rest. When I received confirmation of the course, I knew it would be demanding, and I also knew that I didn’t really know just how demanding. I just hope I have the wherewithal to see it to its conclusion and come away with some tools to help improve my mental health.🏏 Very happy to see England win the 4th Test against SA and win the serie 3-1. And good to see Mark Wood come back into the side and have such an impact, after all his injury problems.The sun is now rising before 8am - another mental milestone in the lengthening of daylight. Not that I would know, as the sky has been dominated by thick stratus cloud, and I’ve not seen the sun at all for several days.Mental health care postcode lottery ‘is risking lives’ - this article in the Guardian rather bears out what I discovered about access to NHS Talking Therapies.Mmmm, new notebook. First time I’ve tried one of these.Listening to The Infinite Monkey Cage last week, I learnt that both rats and apes laugh. A quick search for laughing gorillas turned up this video of a young gorilla being tickled. I think I will save the link for moments when I need a good laugh.🏏 Another good win for England making it 2-1 for the series in SA. Some very good stuff coming from England in this game. A century each for Stokes & Pope, a fivefer for Bess, and 4 wkts for Root - I hear he’s also not bad with the bat.A dry frosty morning always seems to get the woodpeckers drumming.A second morning of frost. Looking out across the fields from our garden.Pre-sunrise run. First one in ages - forgotten how good it feels.First daffodils in flower in our village.For the last 2 years or so I have been involved in conducting wetland bird surveys on the Somerset Levels. I have taken a break from it for a few months, while I get my head around the mental health issues I’ve been dealing with. Today however, I got back to it as I have been feeling ready to do so. Counts take place once a month on specified dates to enable coordination and today’s is the most important of the year as it coincides with the International Waterbird Census.Moonset yesterday morning.On Monday I will have my first Cognitive Behavioural Therapy appointment. When I was referred back in August I was told it was a six month waiting list - such is the NHS.
What I didn’t realise at the time was how lucky I am to have access to this therapy at all. Talking with a friend a couple of months ago, I learnt that they had no access to NHS Talking Therapies simply because of the NHS Trust they come under.The asymmetry of sunrise/sunset times means that while sunset is getting later by the minute each day, sunrise is resolutely sticking around 08:15 and has done so since about the shortest day.🏏 Ben Stokes does it again and takes the last 3 wickets to win against SA.Back to work today and felt good for it, so the holiday break must have done its work.Needed to see the sea. A walk along the coast path near Sidmouth. Gave the dog a ride when he got tired. Stood on the beach. Threw pebbles into the waves. Sat on a bench in the sunshine and enjoyed coffee and chocolate brownies from the Clocktower Cafe.Maintaining and improving my general fitness has become more important as I make my way through my forties. Clearly, the top priority in this situation is to buy a new gadget.8am today, a Song thrush was singing from a tree just beyond our garden. Not its sub-song as might be expected at this time of year, but full song. Fantastic to hear it - felt like a spring morning. A good way to start the New Year. Have a listen - also a Robin singing and a scolding Blue Tit.An early start to go and see my parents. The murkiest of days, but comparatively quiet traffic-wise. Over the old Severn Bridge and up through the Forest of Dean.It hasn’t been easy to admit that in order to be able to make a return to doing longer walks we will have to leave the dog at home. But it is also a relief to do so. I have missed doing more strenuous walks on a regular basis and am conscious that I am not as fit as I’d like to be. The dog still gets his walks, plus gets to sleep by the woodburner while we are off.6:30am. I’ve just stepped outside. It’s perfectly still and clear. No moon, bright stars. A hint of lighter sky in the east. I can hear one or two cars out on the main road and a lone satellite is moving overhead. The wood burner is lit, cups of tea are made. Merry Christmas.📺 Watched the final episode of His Dark Materials last night. A high quality production but I think the series could have done with some editing - maybe down to six episodes. Still some of the best TV I’ve seen in a while.📚 Current winter reading - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke.One of those weird December days that seem to swallow up time. Off work recovering from a sickness bug, filthy weather, writing out Christmas cards, sleeping, and a dash to the shops for some groceries. I shall be glad for the routine of a normal working day tomorrow.David Johnson, writes about self-worth and vulnerability.🎥 Watched Rogue One last night. Good fun, like The Dirty Dozen in space.A broken nights sleep checking in on the election results and realising we have 5 years of Boris ahead of us is not the most auspicious start to a Friday. If I were superstitious I might place some significance on it being the 13th.A very bright and clear full moon tonight.Morning dog walks are now pre-sunrise which makes for some nice skies when there is broken cloud.It has been 8 weeks now that I have been taking antidepressants for my Social Anxiety Disorder. I was initially sceptical about trying them but ultimately concluded that it was worth a shot. Fortunately I got few side effects - nausea for a couple of weeks, and some very vivid and surreal dreams. Of the many possible side effects listed I note one is that you might feel ‘too happy’!Oak Trees, iPhone, Filmborn, Fujicolor 160NS🎙 I SPY - a new podcast about real life spies that I am enjoying. The first episode, about Jonna Mendez and her work in the CIA, is a fascinating story and worth a listen, even if just to learn that she held the job title of Chief of Disguise.At the weekend we watched Arrival. It has been on my list of films to see and happened to be on TV. A really thought provoking film and for me the kind of storytelling when sci-fi is at its best. I will now have to read the novella it is based on - Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang.
Funnily, I was thinking about Bladerunner 2049 - another of Denis Villeneuve’s films, after reading Colin Walker’s post about watching it on his phone.🏏 So Root did go on to score a second century. Eng 476 all out. A draw the most likely outcome?🏏 Eng now a more respectable 269/5 in reply to NZ. And a century each for Burns and Root! Still a way to go, so hoping they don’t lose wickets quickly. Just need Root to hang on to his - maybe another hundred?🏏 A shaky start for Eng in reply to NZ’s 375. 39-2 at the end of play and Rory Burns surviving two chances not an encouraging start, so fingers crossed for tomorrow.I mentioned a few days ago that I was trying out a note-taking/markdown app called Joplin. I had not heard of it before, but I had read a short review of it and thought it sounded worth a go.
So far I like it. The UI of both the iPhone and Mac apps could do with some polish but are elegant enough. Not pretty but get the job done.
What I do like is the following;🎵 Listening to Opalescent - Jon Hopkins🦉Am pretty certain I saw a Barn owl near our home last night. I was driving, and the owl flew overhead so my headlights didn’t quite catch it, otherwise I would have been certain. I would be delighted if it was, as I have never seen one in the 12 years we have been here.🏏 Eng well and truly beaten in the 1st Test against NZ. Class act on the part of NZ.📚Just finished reading I’ll Keep You Safe by Peter May - the first of his I have read and a lighter read before moving onto something more demanding. I enjoy crime fiction but I have to say, while his writing is fine, I thought the plot resolution was preposterous tosh. The big reveal at the end had even occurred to me as a possibility but thought it so ridiculous it would never happen!Part of me doesn’t want to post this. Shame can be a powerful aspect to mental illness but I have found reading about other people’s experiences so meaningful I feel compelled to share my own.
Earlier this year I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. Or SAD for short.
I had never heard of the condition until this year but it is one of the most common anxiety disorders. I have struggled with depressive episodes and anxiety since my teens but have never been able to quite put a finger on what the problem was.In my endless search for the ultimate note-taking/writing app, I have been using Simplenote for a couple of months. Just found that on the iPhone there is a problem selecting text - when I try to drag the handles they disappear.
Did my usual knee-jerk reaction and looked for other apps. I came across Joplin and am giving it a go. Quite like it so far.Am involved with looking after our community woodland. Yesterday, went to look at a piece of woodland left to the local parish council in someone’s will. The wood is only about 20 years old, but some older trees exist along the boundaries. Found this Hornbeam, a tree I rarely see as such a large specimen. I wouldn’t like to guess it’s age but so nice to see one this large.Enjoyed Annie Proulx’s The Shipping News. Second time I’ve read it. And I’m sure I’ll read it again in the future. 📚On a frosty and foggy morning, the trees I photographed for their autumn colour look a little different a week later.I didn’t expect to be dealing with mental health issues in my forties. But nor has it been a complete surprise either.
I don’t know quite yet how I will go about this, but my intention is to use blogging as a way of exploring my experiences and to chart my progress. The internet can be a toxic place, but it is also where I found valuable information on the issues I am dealing with.Looking up.Enjoyed episode 2 of His Dark Materials. Read the trilogy about 10 years ago and I can’t recall all the plot details so it feels quite fresh. I see next weeks’ episode is followed by a new production of H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. That’s my Sunday night viewing sorted then. 📺🏏 Just waking up to catch the end of the 5th T20 between NZ and Eng and they have tied, so would you believe it, we have a super over! Déjà vu…🏏 A good win for England by 76 runs and now down to the decider.🏏 Worth waking up early for the Eng v NZ T20. Eng bat first, and clock their highest T20 score of 241, and a lovely century from Malan. This is more like it 😁The 4th T20 between Eng and NZ starts tomorrow at the more sociable hour of 5am UK time, so I should be awake to listen to the commentary. 🏏Part of my morning routine is to take our dog out for a short walk. Being an old boy with arthritis and failing eyesight, he likes to take his time, sniffing his way around the route. It’s supposed to be a chance for me to look around, take a moment before heading to work. Often though, preoccupation with the day ahead means my mind is elsewhere. Today was the first sunny morning in a while, and finally the trees are showing some good autumn colour.🏏 Woke up this morning to discover Eng have lost the 3rd T20 to NZ by 14 runs…A walk in the woods this morning - autumn colour.🏏 So, NZ win the second T20 against Eng, well done them. 1-1, and all to play for.🏏 A good start for Eng on their tour of NZ - and not a Super Over in sight. Missed out on listening to the commentary due to the time difference, but catching up on the details with the Test Match Special podcast.My first ever flu jab yesterday. Had flu for the first time in years back in February. Lost several days work and felt washed out for weeks. So consider it worth a go.Have been watching Life on Mars, currently available on the BBC iPlayer, and which I somehow missed first time around. Am enjoying the era-specific references, including a View-Master. I had one of these as a kid and had completely forgotten! Kids today don’t know what they are missing… ![View-Master] (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4d/View-Master_Model_G.jpg) View-Master Model G by The Passenger is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0A wet Saturday afternoon. A good excuse to play The Lord of the Rings card game with my son.Have been watching Life on Mars, currently available on the BBC iPlayer, and which I somehow missed first time around. Am enjoying the era-specific references, including a View-Master. I had one of these as a kid and had completely forgotten! Kids today don’t know what they are missing… View-Master Model G by The Passenger is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0Before using Micro.blog I had a blog on Wordpress.com. In fact, I’ve had more than one - all started with good intentions, but each has run aground. One reason is Wordpress itself. It is so feature rich that it would get in the way of what blogging is about - writing. And I’m not talking about being distracted by features.
I found using both the Wordpress app and website at best slow and clunky, at worst prone to freezing and crashing.Walked the dog this morning, just getting light. Grey skies and a cool NE wind. Overhead, the calls of migrant Redwings. Just a handful, the first I’ve seen this autumn.Making the most of the decent autumn weather. A walk on the Exmoor coast yesterday near Selworthy Beacon.October sunriseI am apt to wake far too early - sometimes an hour or more before I need to. During the summer I don’t mind too much but now the mornings are dark it’s not so easy. I am far too prone to start worrying about things, so I am trying out listening to music or meditation audio. It helps - the only thing is by the time I actually have to get up I can be just about ready to nod off again.A recent podcast series I have enjoyed is The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft novel of the same name, it is given a modern setting and presented in the style of a true crime podcast, neatly sidestepping Lovecraft’s writing style. Enjoyable hokum.How do you weigh a live whale? As a non-scientist this is what I admire about scientists - finding ways to answer questions it wouldn’t even occur to me to ask.October skyThe dry summer has lasted well into September. Funnily, it was early in the month that we used the wood burner on a couple of cooler evenings. The rest have been very mild. All change last week, with gales and plenty of much needed rain.
Yesterday we collected conkers. Have no use for them. Just like to look at them, enjoy the feel of them in the hand.Leaving for work on Monday morning, a flat tyre. A wheel change, a trip to the tyre shop, half the morning gone, original plans scuppered, how best to use the rest of the day. Usually this leaves me feeling frustrated, stressed, guilty even. Not quite in control and my day wasted.
As it was I was able to catch up on some outstanding tasks; email clients, planning, that sort of thing.Deleted my Facebook account. Not that I used it much, but in terms of getting rid of accounts where privacy is the issue, Facebook is the big one.Went camping last weekend. Gorgeous weather, colder at night now. Cirrus clouds made a myriad of patterns. A little time to stop and look around.So that’s it for another Ashes series & The Summer of Cricket. And what a summer…Ben Stokes, Steve Smith, Jofra Archer…
Perhaps, as well, the question of who can open for England has finally been answered.Stepped out into our garden early this morning. There has been little in the way of bird song recently, but in the half-light of dawn, I could hear Robins singing again. I enjoy the shift in the seasons.Well done Australia on retaining the Ashes. Moments of brilliance from England, but not enough. Sigh!Among the dramas playing out in the current Ashes series, one thing is beginning to emerge - in Rory Burns, England may have found themselves a true opener with the right temperament. Perhaps a player whose technique is not influenced by the short form game? As Barney Ronay says in the Guardian, Burns is ‘here solely on first-class red-ball merit.’Deleted one of my Twitter accounts. It has sat idle for over a year anyway, but haven’t been able to bring myself to get rid of it. This is part of my drive to stop using social media silos. At some point I will write about my thinking behind this.Nature never ceases to amaze…Barn owls reflect moonlight in order to stun their preyBeech trees - Larkbarrow, ExmoorI realised this week that most of our swallows have left. For the last few weeks the sky has been full of their chatter. Thirty or so, maybe forty. Now just a few stragglers. There is a poignancy to migration. Time moves on.I have long thought that journaling is a great idea, but it has never really worked out for me. There are various reasons for this;
With a traditional paper diary with pre-dated pages there is pressure to fill that space. And if I lack inspiration it is easy to give up. I have tended to think that ideas should be fully formed before committing them to record. This is an approach guaranteed to fail - who ever has a new idea or train of thought that is fully formed the moment it occurs?I heard swallows giving their alarm call over the field beyond our garden. A fox was making its way across the field - and it seemed that the swallows were mobbing it. I have never heard of this before.Test cricket is often described in terms of its ebb and flow, but this 3rd Ashes Test has taken that concept to the extreme. An outstanding win for England. Ben Stokes’ innings was an extraordinary display of skill and perseverance. Jack Leach’s supporting role at the other end was superb. I hadn’t actually planned on spending the afternoon on the edge of my seat…After England’s dire performance yesterday, Root and Denly’s batting against Australia today showed how gripping Test cricket can be.I missed out on listening to the cricket yesterday, which was evidently a great day for Jofra Archer. Am able to listen today - not a great start for England but looks to be a fascinating day’s play.After being silent for most of the summer, our local Tawny owls have started calling again - a sign of autumn’s incipience. Heard them last night and early this morning, a welcome part of our soundscape.Why is it that on returning from holiday I have the strong urge to get rid of Stuff? Is it because I’ve spent time away, taking only the basics with me? And then there is the catharsis of taking a car load of Stuff to the local tip…This view across to Coquet Island in Northumberland is my reset button.Watched Midnight Special last night. It didn’t draw me in as much as I would have liked, but equally I appreciated the light touch with which the plot was handled - no excessive exposition, thank goodness.Cup and ring marks on the Roughting Linn stone, Northumberland. They are between 3500 and 6000 years old. The rock, roughly 20m x 5m, is hidden away in woodland. An ancient place.Welcome to my blog. I have started various blogs over the years, most of which have fizzled out for one reason or another. I like the discipline of writing - I think it is good for my brain.
Probably the main reason that I have not managed to keep blogging in the past is because most of the ones I have started are on a single topic. Because I tend to dabble in one thing, move on to something else, and then come back, I often found I lost momentum.