Week 67: Grass

19th April 2021

Another tough week of emotions this week. One of my Grandmas sadly passed away early in the week, later on in the week I attended the funeral for her late husband.

With a global pandemic still getting in the way of immersing myself in people, to comprehend the loss I instead chose to spend time in nature. Thankfully the weather cooperated and allowed me hours of sitting in the grass with the sun on my face. Escaping the concrete jungle of London is often what my soul needs.

With both of them in their 90s I can only hope to live as long as they managed. The thought of what the world might look like at that point however, is mind-boggling. Will we have started living underwater by then?

Week 66: Easter

12th April 2021

Didn’t write anything last week, so expect a bumper crop of events to read about this week. Well that would be true if there wasn’t a lockdown which precludes me from leaving the house that much.

Despite this I’ve been out pottering on my bike a fair amount. The weather has allowed that to happen on everything from shorts and t-shirt right through to multiple layers with a woolly hat.

I took a couple of extra days off over the Easter break so was able to have an extended period without thinking about work. Having been working fairly solidly since New Year it was nice to stop for a moment.

Easter was quite fun, with the rules of being allowed to socialise outside we were able to catch up with friends outside and have some good belly laughs. This also included a trip out into the countryside for a day. Being surrounded by nothing but trees and grass was a highlight, need to get more of that time in my future. I’m getting super hopeful about being able to hang around in the grass with friends again this summer, bring it on.

On Friday evening we went to B&Q to pick up some bits for the garden. Included in that were some trellis panels for climbers to grow up. We exited the store 2 minutes before closing and got back to the car only to realise that the panels we’d selected were 10cm wider than the car boot and wouldn’t fit. I very quickly hot footed it back into the store and grabbed a length of rope, some foam pipe insulation and a pair of scissors. This was enough for me to cut some lengths of rope, fashion a roof rack from the foam and tie the trellis to the car roof without anything getting damaged.

Week 64: Another planter

29th March 2021

This weekend I made another planter out of a couple of old pallets. Unlike last time where I did the whole thing without going to the shops this time I went straight to B&Q to pick up the right length screws and a pry bar to make my life easier.

B&Q on a Saturday morning was unsurprisingly busy, and seemed to be almost completely sold out of screws. Normally they have hundreds of boxes of different sized screws. This time I had to buy some expensive “Turbodrive” screws because they were the last ones left in the size I wanted. Had I wanted anything either size though, I would have been completely out of luck.

Building this planter I was quickly aware of how many muscles in my body don’t get used in my daily walk to my desk, cooking or sitting on the sofa. One day, when I’ve got room to store it, I’ll get a work bench to let me to DIY projects standing upright so I won’t have to bend over to the floor the whole time. I think if I decide to make another I might also invest in a power saw of some kind so I don’t have to do it all with my hand saw.

This week we watched Biggie: I got a story to tell followed by Unsolved. So I now know a lot more about The Notorious BIG and Tupac, and their murders, than I did before. It was fun watching them in that order and then having the chance to dissect the casting choices of the actors having seen footage of the actual people days earlier.

I’m not sure much else happened this week. We’ve mostly run out of TV we know we want to watch so hopefully summer will hurry up and we can just spend time outside instead.

Week 63: Eating too much

22nd March 2021

Spring is here
The days are getting longer
The weather is getting warmer

I cycled without wearing a jacket
London is odd with no people
Rest in peace Oxford Steet Topshop
Only the naked mannequins remain there

I ate too much delicious food
My tummy hurt
I drank a more than the doctor recommends
Zoom is shit.

Week 62: Terrestrial TV

15th March 2021

An emotional roller-coaster of a week. It started so innocently watching the Harry and Megan interview with Oprah. It was sad to hear about the racist and toxic masculine attitudes of the royal household. It was refreshing though watching someone so openly calling the UK press the racist institution that it is.

The week took an emotional dive with the news of a death in the family. It had me questioning my own and others mortality. Life is so finite. Are we living the best life we can? Do we have the right work-life balance?

While there is hope in the air at signs the world can start to reopen now there is a vaccine, it’s going to be a very different world, a chance to define a new normal, what normal do I want?

Then on Thursday our internet went down for 48 hours. One of the perils of having a smart house is it’s often not so smart when the internet dies. While cooking me shouting “Okay Google, set a timer for 20 minutes” and “Okay Google, add rice to shopping list” went ignored. Dimming the lights after dinner was impossible.

We also couldn’t stream any music while cooking, and had to watch terrestrial TV. We ended up watching this episode of Amazing Hotels which was a surprisingly interesting look at the hotel in the Shard. Filmed during COVID they even showed how the air conditioning works in the sealed building, and how the buildings windows take 3 months to clean so is being constantly cleaned to ensure each widow is cleaned 4 times a year.

For the second night we did at least manage to use the DVR in the Sky box to record something to watch at our own start point. Thankfully the internet is now back and I can once again ask Google to make the flat warmer.

This weekend we borrowed a pressure washer to clean the patio and some fence panels. Pressure washing, it turns out, has the best instant gratification. You can easily see the clean edges where dirt has been removed.

Week 61: The wrong week

8th March 2021

It turns out updating the week number for the title for these weeknotes is of approximately O(log n) complexity. They mostly all settle a week after publishing as I go to create the next post and realise I’ve buggered it up again. You probably never notice, that’s ok, my brain doesn’t either.

Little to say about Week 61. We watched WandaVision on Disney Plus. It’s a miniseries with ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though the only way I knew that was because the opening credits said Marvel. Turns out Vision was totally forgettable from his scenes in the movies.

I enjoyed it as a mini-series, though some of the jokes went straight over my head as I wasn’t a big watcher of many of the sitcoms it parodied. It also did a really good job of explaining the Ship of Theseus thought experiment (though I still prefer the Sugarbabes analogy). I wasn’t quite expecting some light philosophy chat in the middle of an epic fight scene.

I’m quite looking forward to it finally being legal to go and sit in a park by yourself next week. It’s weird that it’s been illegal up until this point this year.

Week 60: The Last of Us: Part II

1st March 2021

This week I completed The Last of Us: Part II. I was playing it in place of watching TV for the past couple of weeks, as it’s got a very strong storyline it was perfect replacement for some TV for a bit.

Spoilers: this post is all about Last of us Part II, it may contain spoliers

So what did I make of the game? I was captivated. Back when I started the original Last of Us I got both bored quickly and thought Ellie was an annoying spoilt brat. I would even mimic her because she sounded so ridiculous. However, by the end of the first season I was totally captivated and totally team Ellie.

The second season totally abused that relationship and at numerous points had me throwing down the controller refusing to put her in danger. The final scenes of the game were completely heart wrenching.

In terms of game play I found the continuous friction between the weapons I was given and the impact of using any of them completely at odds. More often than not I’d start trying to do a scene using the guns I’d been given only to attract too much attention and either run out of ammo quickly or die pretty quickly once everyone came running towards the loud sounds.

I’d then retry the scene only using stealth kills and be able to pile bodies in door frames (they all come to investigate dead bodies so you can wipe loads out without moving) and complete the scenes without using any ammo. It also stopped the frantic fight scenes which left me button mashing (this was also totally game induced as you were supposed to mash the square button to get out of a hold and once you start mashing a button, well you just mash them all).

If I was to rate my least favourite to favourite enemies to stumble on walking around a dark corner it’d probably be:

  1. Stalkers - they were impossible to see to shoot at from a distance and just didn’t die in hand to hand combat
  2. Dogs - shoot with a silenced pistol before they see you or accept you’re going to die again
  3. Seraphites - they were too well organised, I ended up running through most of those scenes
  4. Everyone else - really even bloaters weren’t that bad, a couple of shotgun rounds and they died, and at least they let you know where they were.

Overall a really enjoyable game, and would play again, I may have started just to see what having all my guns in the beginning of the game would be like. Ohh and the boat sex scene caught me completely off guard! I wasn’t expecting that after we cut away in the Library basement and came back afterwards.

Week 59: Slow news

22nd February 2021

Bit of a slow news week this week. Beyond playing more The Last of Us 2 and going to work very little else happened. The highlight was being able to be outside without a coat on this weekend, which was a thrill considering last weekend it didn’t get above 0ºC.

I’m very ready for this lockdown to be eased to make it legal to sit outside with friends.

I was reminded this week of this amusing post imagining if founders treated investors like early employees.

Week 58: 3D Printer

15th February 2021

After completing The Last of Us last week, this week I started The Last of Us 2. It’s really interesting to see the progress that 7 years has given the franchise. The advances in rendering and human motion is particularly impressive, but also the exploration seems more immersive than before. In version 2 the budget for the voice actors also seem massively increased, I don’t think the characters have stopped nattering since I started. Even when it’s just one character alone fighting they are giving themselves a pep talk encouraging them through the scene, it’s cute, you’ve got this Ellie!

Playing The Last of Us has been a great distraction from the other two main hobbies of lockdown:

  1. Watching TV, and
  2. Trying not to buy things I don’t need, and probably won’t use.

There was a point on Friday for example when I found out I could get a new 3D printer delivered next day for £125. I’ve never had anything custom 3D printed, but at that price it seemed like a hobby that I should take up! Thankfully I managed to resist and don’t have a 3D printer turning up, but it was very close.

In terms of TV this week I watched:

Week 57: Sunday watching

8th February 2021

This week I managed to complete The Last of Us. After a slow start I got quite into it towards the end. I particularly enjoyed causing the scenes to not make sense given how I walked into them. For example ensuring there were no enemies left then calmly walking through a door, but have the voice over exclaim how quickly we needed to block a door to stop them chasing us and how close it was.

We also finished Snowfall season 3 this week. Apart from the weird alternative universe in the final episode it was great. Hopefully when season 4 starts showing in America later this month it will also be available here.

On of the things we try and do is to watch some easy watching TV on a Sunday evening before bed. For weeks we were watching an episode of The Crown a week. It’s fun to break up the season like in the old days, and also a great way to let our brains know it’s work in the morning.

We ran out of The Crown a couple of weeks ago, but luckily Blow Away season 2 is now on Netflix. The episodes are only 30 minutes and they skip 90% of the usual talent show fluff which makes it really watchable and very low stress. No one dies blowing glass.

More posts can be found in the archives.