Week 41: Nap time

19th October 2020

This week started with a delivery of a bath tub. The problem with that delivery was that bath tub was 10cm longer than the one that we had ordered. 10cm was significant because that’s 5cm longer than the space that we have for the new bath tub. It turns out the website we’d ordered it from had the wrong product code against the bath we actually wanted so when we phoned to say the wrong tub had arrived everyone was very confused. Thankfully by the end of the week the delivery person was back, this time with the correct size bath.

I made another solo sourdough this week. It was a bit of a rush due to not really having enough time to make it, so I skipped a couple of steps that seemed unnecessary (mostly the bits where you seemingly wait for nothing). The end result is definitely better than my last loaf so I guess those weren’t important steps anyway. That better loaf could also just be because I was using a significantly smaller pot so it could only rise up rather than out (masking my poor shaping technique) but nobody needs to know that.

With the release of watchOS 7 I’m now able to use my Apple Watch as a sleep tracker. I’ve not used a sleep tracker in a number of years but thought it would be interesting to see how Apple has approached it. So far the number of false positives of tracking me sleeping when I’m definitely awake makes it mostly useless for any serious tracking.

It believes any time I spend more than 15 minutes sitting still on a sofa is either me in bed or asleep. I’m currently hoping that there is some AI magic in here which will work out over time the difference between me actually sleeping and watching TV. But at the moment the 2 hours of TV we watched on Sunday is coming up as a nice long nap before bed.

One of the side effects of the sleep tracking is I’m now also able to see my heart rate while I sleep. I’d not thought about that as a feature until on the second or third night of me wearing it my watched tapped my wrist while I was sleeping to let me know I’d triggered my low heart rate alert. Given I’m certainly still alive I’ve had to disable that alert, let’s hope it wasn’t important.

Week 40: Sunrise

12th October 2020

This week builders started work renovating our bathroom. The works were supposed to start at the end of March, but an ill-timed global pandemic threw that schedule out of the window. The work had been overdue for a long time, we already knew this, but the smell of damp wood that filled the flat as the demolition started really reinforced that.

I initially found it slightly odd when the builder described what they were going to do as demolition, I would have descried it more as just removal, but looking at the results I’ll give it to them, they demolished the old bathroom. I’m already looking forward to my first bath in the new shiny bathroom when they are finished.

Twice this week I’ve been treated to a glorious sunrise while out on my bicycle. Sunsets usually get most of the attention, but I far prefer a good sunrise. The world always seem more tranquil during a sunrise, probably because most people are still in bed.

Though the fact I’m seeing sunrise without much planning implies that the days are quickly going to be dark outside of traditional ‘working’ hours. With the move to flexible pandemic working I’ve heard a couple of people talking about shifting their work day around a bit and use their old ‘commute time’ to afford themselves a two hour lunch break, enough time to get outside and enjoy more daylight than a 9-5 usually enables. While still ‘leaving’ and ‘getting home’ at the same time as the before. I like this as a time hack.

Week 39: Frisbee loaf

5th October 2020

After banishing the coat stand to the cupboard under the stairs at the beginning of Lockdown we’ve been living very happily with the extra space it afforded us. I say very happily, but every time I’ve needed to get anything out of the cupboard I’ve now first had to contend with maneuvering the coat stand out of the way. There had to be a better way. After doing some research I order up some parts to make an “industrial pipe” coat rack. At least that’s how they are marketed on Etsy. In reality it’s a bit of threaded gas pipe with a threaded flange to attach it to the wall. Rather the buying one of the Etsy versions though, I got mine from a pipe shop, which meant it turned up without any ribbons, handwritten thank you notes, or any bolts to attach it to the wall instead it came with a fine layer of plumbing grease covering it.

After popping out to get some appropriately oversized bolts to fit the flange we’ve now got a very nice permanent coat rack mounted under the stairs. It fits in so well with the exposed gas pipe and gas meter aesthetic there was some mild concern we’d need to let the next owners of the flat know it’s not connected to the pipework.

This week I made my very first unassisted sourdough loaf. I had made a loaf last week, but that was with some very hands on tuition. I’ll save you a photo of the loaf instead you can just imagine an object that closer resembles a Frisbee to a half a football. My understanding is that means my shaping technique needs improving.

We’ve had a starter since the beginning of the year and since then I’ve been mostly just been the beneficiary of the baking process (though also helping out with flour acquisition when needed). I’m not sure if I was spurred on reading about Nat’s coached loaf, or something else, but I’m glad I’ve now got a deeper understanding as to what everyone has been nattering about for the last 7 months.

One of the techniques used to demonstrate the difference privilege has played on peoples lives is called a Privilege Walk. It’s pretty straightforward in that you get a group of people standing side by side and the instructor reads out a list of statements (being raised by two parents, ever having to worry about money as a child, being comfortable holding your partners hand in public, etc). For every statement that you identify with you take a step forward. It’s a very visual way for privileged people to see just how privileged they are. There is a really good article about why they are bad, and why you shouldn’t facilitate them.

This week I really enjoyed this mix from Ameeva. Some lovely ambient and drone tracks with dialogue recordings mixed in. I particularly liked the Black Lives Matter chanting mixed in, I’ve been thinking it would make a good ambient overlay, so I’m glad someone is doing it.

Week 38: Soldering on

28th September 2020

I spent lots of this week creating some new lighting for our kitchen counter. The lights that came with the kitchen had always been a bit naff, they never really illuminated the useful parts, and their wiring was questionable with bare sections protected by layers of electrical tape.

I’ve now replaced all of that with a proper plug socket and a Phillips Hue Lightstrip. There was a bit of a challenge as the Lightstrip only comes in 2 meter runs and my kitchen has corners and a cooker in it. So cutting it into bits and soldering Cat-5 cable as joins allows the strip to go around corners and jump over the cooker as needed. I’m super happy with how the soldered joints all came out.

I found focusing at work this week increasingly hard. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that we’re now acknowledging the pandemic will last at least another 6 months or something else. But there was definitely something. One of the differences of working for a medium to large company is when you have weeks like this it’s super easy to hide in the team, or find different people to walk around and chat with about nothing and consume loads of time. Working for a 7 person company it feels like it’s much more obvious on days I’m not really achieving anything.

Hopefully next week will be more productive at work. Even if it isn’t, at least I can see clearly when cooking dinner now.

Week 37: Autumn

21st September 2020

It seems like summer is almost over, the evenings are getting much cooler and the sun is setting much earlier. This is making meeting friends in parks after work increasingly challenging. You can either either read that as challenging to see because it’s dark, or challenging to see anyone for any length because I’ve got to leave earlier because some parks shut at dusk.

Despite this I managed to check out both Regents Park and Hyde Park this week. Hyde Park was a particular delight as I can’t actually remember spending any time in the park in the past. It turns out there is a lovely part just east of The Long Water which closer resembles an overgrown meadow to the over manicured picture of a Central London park. It was lovely and very peaceful.

Not much else to report this week. The pandemic seems to be getting worse and for some reason Boris said (and I paraphrase) “we saw the second wave starting in Europe, so us getting one was inevitable”. This seems completely backwards logic to me. If we hadn’t been through this before and know how to suppress the virus, then sure it would be inevitable. But this isn’t the first time. We know exactly which actions we can take to reduce the spread. Ugh. In the immortal words of the renowned philosopher Craig Ashley David “I’m walking away, From the troubles in my life, I’m walking away, Oh to find a better day”.

Week 36: Tourist

14th September 2020

Some good things from this week:

Week 35: I've not got it

7th September 2020

This week we had our first COVID test as part of the ONS Infection Survey. A very nice person came round to give us a swab each. It turns out swabbing the back of your throat (“they” say: if you’re not gagging it’s not far back enough) is as bad as they say. I could definitely feel a phantom swab for much of the rest of the day. But it let them test to see if we’ve got it. Given that we’ve heard nothing back, the assumption is that we’re all clear for the moment.

This came about because our address we were randomly selected in a lottery. We’re now signed up for random testing for up to the next 12 months. This lets them monitor how it’s moving in the community, and lets us periodically know for sure if we’ve got it or not.

It certainly made me feel slightly better at the weekend when I was catching up with family that I knew, given I’d not seen anyone since the test, that I was there was very little chance of me passing it on.

I imagine one potential future, assuming there isn’t a antidote forthcoming, is regular testing will become part of every day life. Much the same way as we clean our teeth, just do a cheeky little test, make sure you’re still clear. Perhaps my gag reflex might desensitize.

Week 34: CMYK

31st August 2020

This week I pushed out a realignment to this blog, as well as my homepage. Cameron Moll once said “Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign” (gosh was that really 15 years ago?!?) and as I definitely see myself as a “Great Designer” it seems fitting that I would realign. The main inspiration came from the Cinelli offset CMYK paint jobs on their bikes (it’s an effect that’s definitely elsewhere though).

Cinelli Vigorelli 2015

Owning one has been on my bucket list for a while (pictured is the 2015 Vigorelli, though I first saw a similar paint job on their 2012 Strato). I’ve tried to do something similar in CSS before but it isn’t possible with just opacity, you need blend modes on the layers. Then when I saw Stripe launch their new homepage and realised blend modes had made it into browsers I had to give it a go.

The passing of Chadwick Boseman this week hit me harder than I was expecting. The video of people telling him what Black Panther meant to them especially had me sobbing. As a white middle class man there are role models for me literally everywhere I look. Black people aren’t afforded that luxury, so to loose one, who should have had so much more ahead of him is heart breaking.

We know that from the life he lived and the films he chose to be a part of — movies that elevated stories of black people — that he was more than a superhero. He was our superhero — and at a time when we have so few. 

Oluwakemi Aladesuyi

We’ve now finished the first 5 seasons of Black-ish which is all that is legally available in the UK at the moment. It’s still really annoying how we can’t easily pay for shows that have been “released” somewhere else in the world just not “here” yet. Take my money already!

Similarly I spent some time trying to find a legal source of Grown-ish, a spin-off from Black-ish which is already on it’s third season in America, to no avail. Which means I can’t tell you how it’s also a good easy watching show, if at times makingyou slightly cringe at teenagers being teenagers.

Week 33: Camping

24th August 2020

This week, for the first time since before lockdown started, I spent a night not in my bed! We went camping for the weekend to a lovely little campsite just outside of Hastings. We were there with some friends, and spent two days almost able to pretend we were in the before. One of the benefits of camping is it’s very easy to maintain proper distance from others while still hanging out for multiple days. I’ve always enjoyed camping, and have enough equipment to make it a very comfortable experience, add in the ability to finally spend more than a couple of hours with friends and it was magical.

One of the highlights of the weekend was getting to lay back in the dark and look up at the stars. Due to there being a new moon, and being sufficiently far enough away from any town or city, there were sooooooo many stars. It’s a shame there is so much light pollution in London you don’t get to properly enjoy it.

On Saturday we went on a walk from the campsite and managed to get ourselves chased out of a field by some overly friendly donkeys and horses. While I’m sure they were just coming to say hello, as I’m sure I would if someone walked into my home. Having them all running at us at speed was really very intimidating.

Week 32: Draughtsperson

17th August 2020

Some things:

More posts can be found in the archives.