Lightly Seared on 31st May

I quite enjoyed looking back at past posts last month, so I thought I’d do it again. The first thing I noticed was that I have posed a lot more on 31st May than I did on 24th April, going all the way back to 2006 — before we had kids.

There were several weddings taking place around that time and, after one of them, we were able to sneak outside to enjoy a Welsh sunset.

Then I have to jump all the way forward to 2011, a time when I was still listening to podcasts. The end of the month Starship Sofa had just been released with fiction from Michael Moorcock. The show is still online and still worth a listen.

In 2014, I wanted the boys to play outside and they wanted to play Angry Birds. We found a compromise.

In 2017 the Wacken Open Air hard rock festival decided to reduce their environmental footprint by installing a beer pipeline. Everyone should have a beer pipeline.

And this time last year, we went to Apenheul, a zoo of free roaming primates in the Netherlands.

Lightly Seared on 24th April

I recently realised that this blog, in one form or another, has been going for a little over 15 years. The site has travelled across a couple of domains and several servers over the years but I’m still shambling on so, apropos of nothing, today seemed as good a day as any to take a look back at what I was posting on 24th April in previous years.

Not much, it turns out, which probably isn’t overly surprising as I’m not the most consistent blogger in the world. Sometimes my posting frequency will rise, but often life will leap out and the blog is one of the first things to become neglected.

That said, I was watching the French Presidential election in 2017 and looking forward to Macron beating Le Pen in the run-off. Just imagine the coronamess we’d all be in if Le Pen had actually made it into the Élysée Palace.

My first job outside of the UK was in The Netherlands way back in 1999. At the time, the agent who had found me the job told me that the cost of importing my car would be prohibitive and I should see how well I got on with public transport before considering buying a new one. In 2010, about to start a new job and with the twins on the way, I finally got around to getting a new car.

That Cat

The boys have done their schoolwork so the rest of the family have gone for a walk, leaving me alone with the cat.

In the five seconds it took for me to go and grab a piece of fruit, that cat had leapt into my chair and made himself comfortable.

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He has a thing about trying to steal my seating arrangements. He did the same thing yesterday — just as I’d finished weeding and was about to put my feet up, that cat decided to put in an appearance.

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He often does this at mealtimes, so much so that I have come close to sitting on him.

Maybe I should.

Three Day Weekends!

We saw this coming a month ago, but I have just been asked to reduce my working time to four days a week. We can count ourselves lucky in that we are able to afford the drop in income for the next few months and I can, therefore, look forward to having a lie in on Friday mornings.

With the kids doing school related work during weekday mornings, this gives me something of an opportunity to catch up on some of the (many) household and personal projects that I keep promising myself I will find time for.

Or I could put my feet up and put a dent in my ever growing pile of must-read books.

Either way, I suspect that Thursday night film night could well become a thing.

And film night means pizza night.

The family IT support is in

One of the pros — or cons, depending on how you look at it — of everyone being at home is that when any of the kids has a computer problem, I am unavoidably available. Today we had problems aplenty.

We got the boys some cheap Dell laptops some time ago, installed Ubuntu on them and set them going. The point has now been reached when, for all three boys, these laptops are being used primarily for school work (or school related activities). So running out of disk space is a serious problem.

Today, one of the laptops ran out of disk space.

My first reaction was to ask how many webcam videos and screen recordings they had been making, but it turns out that the problem was deeper than that — too many old packages clogging up the disk drive. I found the commands necessary to clean up these packages easily enough and set about some vastly overdue laptop maintenance.

This is when the fun began. When I tried to use apt-get autoremove to free up some disk space, it told me that it couldn’t do that because I had some broken dependencies. When I tried to fix these, it told me it couldn’t do that because I didn’t have enough disk space.

And it all started looking a bit painful and the boys quickly learned that IT support largely involves copying and pasting error messages into your search engine of choice and then doing the same back into the terminal.

Everything is now resolved and I have promised to keep a closer eye on the boys’ technology. On the plus side, I now know how to manually remove old kernels in Ubuntu.

This was not a good week to lose a filling

It’s never a good time to lose a filling, but with the country on lockdown and dentists only allowed to deal with emergencies, convincing a dentist that my broken tooth was an emergency felt like something of a challenge. The first dentist I tried told me to just take some paracetamol, which sounded like a lot of painkillers over the next few weeks.

I had more luck with the second dentist who asked if the broken tooth had any sharp corners. Oh yes, I replied, you can cut glass with this tooth. So it was that I was able to go to the dentist for an emergency filling this afternoon.

Except I didn’t get a filling.

It turns out that my wisdom (hah!) tooth has pushed against the molar so much that the molar has been deformed… Well, not exactly deformed but pushed over and squeezed to the extent that an emergency filling1 wouldn’t hold and I would be in a lot of pain in about four days time.

The only alternative was to extract the tooth.

To be fair, she did ask me in all seriousness whether I would prefer to have the pulled immediately or wait until the agony became unbearable.

Anyway, the deed is now done, both parts of the shattered tooth have been hygienically disposed of and I am supposed to avoid spicy food until the wound heals.

This could be a bit of a challenge.

Footnotes

  1. I actually do mean emergency filling here. Dentists are allowed to open for emergencies only, and certainly not for regular checkups. The dentist would have been able to plug the hole in my tooth as it was painful, but I would have still had to go back to get it redone after the lockdown had ended.

The End of Christmas

Today marks the end of our Christmas break. The visitors have all gone home, the spare bed has been folded up for another few months and now all that remains is to clear up a bit and start getting ready for school and work tomorrow.

The tree is still standing, of course, but it will be disassembled and put into storage before too long.

But first, I shall start scrolling through the long list of articles and blog posts that I haven’t gotten around to over the past couple of weeks and start catching up.

How’s your 2020 going so far?

That was the year that was

This is not a resolutions post, because I don’t do resolutions. That said, now is as good a time as any to take stock of where I am right now.

Looking back at where I was this time last year, I am quite pleased to be able to say that I do now have my weight under control. When I was younger, and cycling to work every day, I used to be able to eat and drink whatever I wanted with no need to worry. I’m older now, and commuting by car and by train, and back in 2018 I finally had to admit that it wasn’t my shirts that were shrinking.

I needed to lose a few kilos and, importantly, I wanted to do this in a manner that would be sustainable. I know what I’m like and I know full well that gym memberships and calorie counting are not things that I will continue with for any length of time. Instead, I have attempted to make some changes to my lifestyle and behaviour (more walking, less snacking) and it seems to have worked. My weight has fallen from 92 kilos to a near-optimum 81.3 kilos. I am not planning to make any further changes to my behaviour and, if I stick with my current habits, I should be able to stay reasonably healthy for the foreseeable future.

I also wanted to catch up on my unwatched DVDs. Finding time for this is still a bit of a struggle, although as my eldest son gets older, the range of films that can be added to our Saturday night film is slowly growing. I have stopped buying DVDs though and am no longer mentioning films when people ask about Christmas and birthday presents.

I am pretty much caught up on my unread books list and did reach my target of reading 30 books in 2019. That said, some of the books were very short — some of them not even long enough to be called a novella — so this feels like a bit of a cheat. I will give myself the same target in 2020, but this time with the aim of reading two and a half actual novels a month.

I’m still rubbish at Go. Improving, slowly, but I still lose way more than I win. I am not really trying to improve my game either at the moment, just playing for the fun of playing and seeing how things go (pun intended).

And that’s it really. I am going into 2020 much the same as 2019, but more so. There are other things I would like to fit into my life, but the challenge is always working out where to find the time, so I’m not mentioning any of these until I have some idea of the how.

All that’s left, therefore, is for me to wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

See you in 2020

Merry Christmas

I have learned, through repeated readings of The Christmasaurus, that when we leave treats out on Christmas Eve, the carrot is for Santa and the milk is for the reindeer.

I almost feel guilty about the fact that, every year, I always insist on leaving out a glass of whisky. I thought it was for Santa. Honest.

I’m still convinced that Rudolf would prefer a mince pie, or even some cheese and biscuits, rather than the same carrot he gets at every house he visits. But this is an argument I lose every year.

But the snacks are out and all that is left is for me to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone.

Wherever you are, and regardless of how (or if) you celebrate the Mid-Winter festival, have a great day.