Lightly Seared in 2021

As the year draws to a close, now seems as good a time as any to look back over my most popular (more accurately: most read) post of the last twelve months. As ever, my most read posts overall are technical notes written the best part of a decade ago, but if people still find this stuff useful, it’s all to the good.

Of the posts that I actually wrote this year, the most popular (surprisingly enough) is COVID-related. Specifically, when I announced that I was fully jabbed. Of course, I’m even more jabbed now having recently received my booster.

Oddly enough, the second most popular post of the year is Jabbed: Part One, which goes back to when I received my first dose of Pfizer.

Brexit was mentioned on this blog a few times, even though it received a lot fewer mentions than in previous years. It seems fitting, therefore, that my third most popular post is also the last time I mentioned the B-word to mention that a crisis had been averted.

I am still watching the Brexit-related news but I find myself have much less to say. The reason, I think, is that even though a lot of stuff keeps happening, it’s the same stuff happening over and over again. There are only so many times that you can mention the sheer stupidity of leaving the EU, or the fact that now it’s done there’s no way back, without both feeling and sounding like a broken record.

On the subject of going around in circles, COVID. And in March, I mentioned that 2021 was starting to feel like 2020.

On a more positive note, we did take a step towards eating more sustainably with burgers for all. That’s insect burgers, which we can make using mealworm.

And I can’t go a year without mentioning the weather: Flooded. Fortunately, I wasn’t.

Way back in January, Donald Trump tried to organise a coup. In After the meltdown, the climbdown I made (or tried to make) the more general observation that authoritarian impulses exist everywhere — we all need to be paying attention.

Remember OS/2? I did: Digital Nostalgia

Then there is the ongoing discussion about green energy and why nuclear power plants are necessary. I still it’s insane that the Green parties in Belgium want to burn more gas in order to decommission the nuclear power stations we already have.

And last, but certainly not least, is what I said back in May: Don’t Panic!

And with that, all that remains is to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the best for 2022.

Seasons Greetings

It’s that time of year again, when COVID restrictions are tightened and we congratulate ourselves on having seen Spider-Man on Tuesday, before the cinemas were closed.

Today is my last day at work until next year. I have two weeks off which we will all be spending at home, around a table, playing games. The boys started expressing an interest in Dungeons & Dragons a few weeks ago and we have agreed to give it a try while we have plenty of time for a few lengthy sessions. I’m not sure who is most looking forward to this.

In other news, I had my COVID booster yesterday — Moderna this time. They really have the process working smoothly now: it’s literally a case of walk in register, get jabbed and go.

Life goes on, the freezer is full, and the presents are all wrapped and under the tree. We’re ready for the next two weeks, so all that remains is for me to wish anyone reading this a very Merry Christmas and all the best for the season.

Inspiration

I spent most of yesterday struggling with an application to which I needed to make a few small changes. And the changes were small, which is why I found it so incredibly frustrating that the end result didn’t work. I tested and tested and tested again and, while all of the individual components worked perfectly, it completely failed when I tried to put it all together.

Today, while out walking, I suddenly realised why it wasn’t working. I won’t bore you with the details, but it relates to the difference between Development, Test and Acceptance environments. What is more interesting is just how much I can solve when I let my mind wander.

I really need to get out more.

Fully Jabbed

I’m really slacking with this blogging thing at the moment. My last post was five weeks ago and merely mentioned that I’d had my first Pfizer jab. And the most interesting thing that has happened to me since then is that I had my second jab today.

And even that wasn’t very interesting. The process was just as smooth as before and I am not (so far) feeling any side effects. Kudos, though, to the man who brought an eBook with him so that he would have something to do during the fifteen minute post-jab wait. I wish I’d done that.

Tomorrow I can download the CovidSafe app and in a couple of weeks time I will be as CovidSafe as I can be.

Jabbed: Part One

I had my first Pfizer jab yesterday and it all went remarkably smoothly — from turning up at the vaccination centre to sitting down in the post-jab waiting room, the whole process only took about ten minutes.

And, after the compulsory 15 minute wait, I went out for a drink, because of course I did.

And in five week’s time I have to do it all over again for the second jab.

Don’t Panic!

Today is the 25th May, which is Towel Day, an annual celebration of the works of Douglas Adams.

As such, now is the time of the year at which I grab a towel and remind you all that…

It’s a tough universe. There’s all sorts of people and things trying to do you, kill you, rip you off, everything. If you’re going to survive out there, you’ve really got to know where your towel is.

Stay hoopy, froods.

Crisis averted

Long term readers of this blog may remember The Haggis Crisis of 2021 and the news that the British Store online had been forced to suspend taking orders due to Brexit related supply issues.

I have, of course, been watching the site ever since and am inappropriately happy to report that, when I returned home on Wednesday, I found that they had re-opened. Of course, I immediately ordered as much as I could and it all turned up today.

I now intend on spending the rest of the day overdosing on Treacle and Lemon Curd.

Leaving Lockdown

One positive bit of news that I almost missed is that Belgium now has a plan for leaving lockdown. The plan is, as ever, dependent on vaccination schedules but we should see a re-opening of restaurants and cinemas on June 9th.

Restaurants are already able to open their terraces to groups of four or less who want to sit outside, but with the upcoming easing of restrictions, we will be able to sit indoors a well.

As for the cinemas reopening, it’s not a moment too soon:

Things are looking up.

Hypertension

I’ve been a bit quiet over the past week or so, both online and off, and there’s a reason for this. On Sunday 9th May — Mother’s Day in Belgium — I discovered, quite spectacularly, that I suffer from hypertension and have just spent the last week and a half in hospital.

This proved to be quite a surprise to me because I never get ill. Over the course of my career I have take a grand total of one day off ill, so I was slightly shocked to be told that I have been suffering from this for the past ten years. The doctors were surprised, too, and I have found myself having to answer several slightly incredulous questions.

The main challenge for the hospital has been finding a combination of drugs that can safely keep my blood pressure withing reasonable levels. Having concluded that the best combination for me is all of them, they have finally let me go.

Not surprisingly, I’ve done very little — well, nothing — while in hospital and have a bit of catching up to do. So if you suddenly see me popping up on week-old blog posts, now you know why.

Take care of yourselves, folks, and make sure you see a doctor more regularly than I do (did). You never know what might be lurking.