Some good things from this week:
- At the beginning of the summer I bought some fairy lights of ebay to
illuminate the garden. I’d done this previously but used some lights that
didn’t like getting wet, so this time I made sure I picked some that could
handle getting rained on. This worked great for a couple of months but slowly
they stopped turning on. All the lights still flickered so I knew there was
no problem there, my guess was the cheap “8 function controller” was having
some issues. Reading around the internet, I found this great web page from
Big Clive detailing how to stop
Christmas Lights from flashing. Sure enough his circuit matched my one very
closely. So I soldered the pins of the thyristors together to short circuit
them, and now I have a lighting set that works perfectly. I’m tempted to
order up a bridge rectifier as he details to remove the whole controller
circuit, but in the decade that has passed since I completed my electronics
modules at University I’ve forgotten most of it and can’t work out if it
would blow the house up or not. So I’ll probably stop now I’ve got working
- This weekend I went cycling on routes that I’d not cycled on in over 5 years.
It was confusing how my brain both recognised some stretches, but had
completely forgotten some others. I did manage to get a Strava PB going up
one of the hills I definitely used to target, so that made me quite happy as
my strength must be coming back.
- We also got to go and see some friends and their baby this weekend. Last time
I got to see them was before lockdown started and it’s amazing how much he’d
grown and how mobile he’s now got. Seeing small children is always a good
reminder of how much time has passed, because they have often hit another
development milestone or two.
- With the hot weather last week we met up with some friends in Ruskin Park and
sat and watched the sunset over the London skyline. It was warm enough that
we didn’t need jumpers and could pretend for just a moment we were on
holiday. It was perfect. Summer really is the best season isn’t it.
If we assume that we’re not going back into offices until 2021 then we still
have longer working from home ahead of us than we’ve had already endured. I
hope that we get to go back to some kind of office before that.
This week was mostly uneventful. I did some cycling, some work and some more
cycling and work.
I tried cycling through Richmond Park at the weekend to get down to Kingston
but the park was closed to cyclists so I had to take the A3 which for that
segment turns into a mult-lane dual carriageway. Judging by the number of other
cyclists I saw on that stretch I wasn’t alone. I hope no one gets hurt because
mixing cars driving at 50mph and less experienced cyclists is a recipe for
disaster. All in the name of keeping people safe from COVID-19.
Some things from this week:
- We watched I May Destroy
week. I had absolutely no idea what it was about when we started. It
took me 3 episodes before I worked out what was going on, but I was hooked
from shortly after we started the first episode. It turns out I May Destroy
You used the same Intimacy Co-ordinator as Sex Education and Normal
People, which makes
sense as the sex scenes in each of them are really well done.
- I woke up at 3am on Saturday morning with my brain very actively thinking
about the concurrency model, and database pool implementation differences
between Phoenix (and Elixir) and Rails (and
Ruby). This is probably my own fault as one of
the last things I did at work on Friday before logging off was get half way
through investigating why our database looks to be going slow in
AppSignal (our APM) but that isn’t reflected in
our postgresql slow query logs. Turns out my brain was on to something
though as AppSignal does combine queue time and execution time into a single
brain, not sure 3am was the right time to crack that nut though.
- I cycled around London on Saturday, it’s exciting to see the amount of
permanent looking cycling infrastructure going in. I just hope that they
also get the signage right. I know I personally avoid lots of cycle paths
because I don’t want to get accidentally taken somewhere with no way to get
back onto the route I started on.
That’s probably it for this week. As predicted, not much happened. Who knows
what exciting adventures the next week of not leaving the flat will bring us.
Some good things from this week:
- After they were allowed to reopen I was able to go and get my hair cut for
the first time in months. It was reassuring that, unlike a lot of barbers
I’ve seen while out and about, mine is being very strict about all customers
wearing masks. Still that was the closest I’ve been to other people in a
long time and I’m not going to pretend it didn’t feel awkward. Being able to
stroke the freshly shaved back of my head still feels fantastic though.
- I’ve been out cycling a couple of times and my power meter says my legs are
definitely getting stronger. Part of me feels like I should set some goals
to hit, but right now I’m just enjoying the ride too much.
- I did our fortnightly shop at Sainsburys, there was once again no queue to
get into the shop. The only thing they are struggling to keep in stock that
want need is Campari. What a difference a couple of
That’s about as exciting as the week got. Don’t get your hopes up for anything
more exciting next week. I’m not planning on making use of any open pubs /
betting shops / drive in cinemas / etc and there is limited appeal in writing
about the soups I make for lunch.
Some good things from this week:
- At the weekend we went down to Deal to spend the day sitting on the beach
in the sunshine. It was glorious, there was sun, sea and really
uncomfortable pebbles to sit on. I’m still not entirely sure why some
beaches get nice soft sand and others only get hard pebbles.
Pebble beaches are so painful! Still, Deal itself was lovely, sufficiently off
the beaten path that the beach was very quiet, but populated enough there
was a toilet and ice cream shop we could visit. Having not really made it
out of London since lockdown stared (apart from seeing country lanes on bike
rides) it was nice to sit and look out to sea and get lost in the thought
that we were anywhere.
- I took a couple of days annual leave towards the end of the week so my
weekend kept on feeling like Sunday. It was nice to have more time to potter
around the flat and switch off from work. I really can see the appeal of
those friends who do 4 day weeks normally. I think I’d prefer a 4 day week
over a remote only job.
- We watched Pump up the volume: A history of House
music. It was originally aired
in 2001, though apart from some of the outfits of interviewers (I love how
you can age most things by peoples wardrobes) it holds up really well. The
description of Acid House being invented because they didn’t know how to use
a TB-303 and just twisted the nobs a bit, then had to play the first track
three times in one night until people worked out they liked it was great. I
love the balls of seeing a track not work on the dance floor, but just
playing it again and again until people start dancing.
- We also watch Disclosure, a documentary looking at how media has
trained people to mock, fear, and distrust the trans community. My favourite
part had to be clip they show us of a dad describing his trans child as a
unicorn, someone special, unique, and precious who should be nurtured and
cared for, not shamed or resented. Imagine if that was the message that more
media carried, imagine how exciting the world could be. I hope one day the
world is accepting of trans people. Fuck the haters.
Some good things from this week:
- On Monday I spent the evening chasing sunsets on my bike. A combination of
the extraordinarily long days we’ve got at the moment (thanks Solstice) and
everyone being inside at night (thanks Covid), makes for some really
enjoyable late evening riding. The roads are mostly deserted, the temperature
is mild, and you can easily loose yourself to the gentle noise of nature and
your chain running over your gears. I wish evenings like these stuck around
for the rest of the year.
- The end of the week was officially too hot. It made me long for the air
conditioned offices that I usually get to hide in during the summer months.
- On Thursday Virgin Media killed my internet connection for most of the day. A
very real reminder that I am still working from home and not a real office.
The plus sides being I was able to move some flowers from a basket to a bed
in the garden while I waited for it to come back up. If we were still in
offices we would have almost certainly just used the time for some planing
meetings or some other “real work”.
- This weekend we were supposed to be at Glastonbury. Instead we went round to
a friends house and sat (appropriately spaced) in their garden watching past
performances projected onto a wall. It was one of the most normal feeling
things we’ve done since the beginning of Lockdown. It also gave us a glimpse
into what socialising might look like in the future, which is a poor
imitation of the before. No more screaming Wonderwall into each others faces
while spilling half your beer over the floor.
- Due to an administrative error there are currently two packets of ginger nut
biscuits open. Management would like to apologise for this oversight.
Some good things from this week:
- We watched Staged
which had me laughing out loud, it doesn’t take much I know but this was
good. The premise is two actors being forced to rehearse for a play during
lockdown. It perfectly captures the challenges of video conferencing and the
mundanity of living through lockdown trying to function. As a bonus the
episodes are only 15 - 20 minutes long so you’ve watched the whole season
before you realise it’s started.
- This weekend we met up with some friends in a park and managed to
have a long conversation without just being able to see their head and
shoulders. It was nice to pretend for a short bit that life might get back
to some kind of normal. It’s also nice to discover new green spaces that I’d
not visited before. One of the things that I’m really hopeful for is that
people continue to use all the green spaces when this is all over. It’s
really nice to see people out and enjoying their neighbourhoods. Though I
imagine in reality people will quickly head back to the cafes, restaurants,
pubs and bars as soon as they open and the parks will go back to how they
were in the before.
- Having rediscovered medium length bike rides, and doing a couple a week for
the past month, I now feel like my fitness is also now starting to return. I
feel able to go out for a couple of hard hours on the bike and come home not
feeling like I need to pass out in the corner and not move for a week. Which
is making the riding more enjoyable and more appealing. Thankfully the
weather also around to facilitate the rides.
We continue to watch Black-ish,
this week we watched the
episode called “Hope”, the premise
being the verdict in a police brutality case is announced and the family
discuss what it means for them, and Black people in general. The episode
was frighteningly relevant to current affairs. It’s free on Prime video, I’d
recommend watching it. It also touches on at what age should you explain to
children that racism exists. I don’t think there is one answer for that, but
I was also reminded of that question when reading a letter from Lonnie
Chavis, a 12 year old holywood star where he talks about his experiences of racism.
Can you imagine having to explain to a room full of white people why I couldn’t hold back my real tears while experiencing the pain of racism? I can.
The privilege of being able to grow up and live without understanding the
implications of living in a white supremacist society is huge.
Some good things from this week:
- I went on my longest bike ride since March 2016. I’ve been building my
distance up again over the past couple of weeks and it feels really good to
be back on the bike for multi hour rides. It’s also mind boggling the number
of other cyclists out cycling at the moment. The last 10 years have really
seen cycling come from a niche sport on the fringes into something immensely
popular. I was always hopeful that the number of cyclists in Central London
would ensure car drivers would have to look for us, I didn’t expect the same
to happen in the countryside.
- I shipped my first big feature at work. I’ve only been in my job for 4 weeks
but I’m already shipping big features by myself. Elixir is strangely
familiar for a language I’ve never used before. Other than it’s immutability
throwing me off a couple of times has been a really easy transition to
writing. I’m still not sure I’d pick it over Rails for writing a CRUD app
myself, but I can definitely see some of it’s perks.
- Food shopping in lockdown has mostly gone completely back to normal. In the
Sainsburys I go to they even had 16kg of plain and self raising flour out
for people to buy this week. Other than the short queue to get into the
store it’s as stocked as it was before lockdown. We’ve managed to get our
shopping routine to only needing to go to the store once a fortnight. We get
a veg box delivered weekly which helps with that. This really limits our
interactions with other people.
- We continue to watch Black-ish
which we’ve been watching for many weeks now. With 141 episodes, I imagine
we will continue to be watching this for a long while yet. It’s funny, well
written and a nice antidote to the world.
The world seems otherwise still pretty messed up. We just need to keep putting
one foot in front of the other and try and move forward.
I’m not going to deny it, this week has been tough.
I hope this is the beginning of something big. I hope we’re at a tipping point.
I hope that there will be real change and we can begin to tear down some of the
white supremacist systems which are holding us collectively back. I hope it
will be different this time.
I know at least within my network more people seem to be opening their eyes,
wanting to engage, and actually learning and talking about racism. Which is
good, I’m here for those conversations.
At the same time though, the Met still refuse to acknowledge their racism, that
they disproportionally target black men, that they treat black people different
from their white counterparts. A member of the cabinet can’t even bring
themselves to say that there are no black people on the cabinet for fear of…?
I hope this gets to big to ignore though. So we need to continue the discourse
and not let this just die… again. We, as white people, need to have the
uncomfortable conversations and start to heal some of the hurt that we’ve
inflicted. We need to normalise saying out loud that black lives matter. That
the current state of things isn’t ok. That we see black people, that we
appreciate black people, that we are there for black people. Because black
This week had quite a few good things:
- Went on a lovely long bike ride and did some good social distance with a
friend. The weather was amazing, the wind keeping it feeling not to hot
while the sun was being very hot. It was also really nice to see so many
people enjoying outdoor spaces. Spaces I’ve never seen be busy were covered
in mostly appropriately spaced bodies. I’d love for a legacy of this to be
people remembering that outdoor spaces exist.
- The blog post Alice, Keran and I wrote about our radio
got published. We drafted it while I was still working at the FT. It was a
lot of fun to produce, and I’ve been contemplating bunking off work for an
afternoon to go back and help them do it again (you didn’t see this Tom ;).
- I built a new garden planter out of an old pallet I found abandoned at the
side of the road. The challenge was to try and built it without having to go
to the shops to buy any new bits, which I managed to achieve. It means that
some of the screws weren’t quite the right length, and some bit’s don’t have
as much structural integrity as I would have liked. But in some ways that
just adds to its reclaimed rustic charm. The next job is to get some compost
to fill it.
Two of those good things also helped me avoid the internet for most of the
weekend. Which is good because the current state of the world, and in
particular the state of racism both in America and locally is getting me
Someone left this quote on a comment on an FT article really stuck with me:
…I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.
Martin Luther King, 1967
That was from 1967, has nothing changed.
I’ve spent a lot of time reading (well, mostly listening to audio books) around
racism over the past couple of years. If anyone’s looking to help understand
modern racism more I’d recommend any of these books:
I’ve put White Fragility last, because it’s the only one written by a white
person. It’s a great book, and covers an area none of the others touch, but
does mean id recommend supporting any of the other authors before reading it.
Black lives matter.
More posts can be found in the archives.