It’s been cold. We upgraded the duvet to the full 13 togs (it’s one of those double-layer ones) plus a blanket on top and installed the electric blanket so that we could get into a lovely toasty bed.
It’s cold. It didn’t even get above zero yesterday. And it snowed, which is unusual in London. It looked spectacular last night, though.
How much does it cost to own a car? Because I’m a massive nerd, and recorded everything I spent in a spreadsheet over seven years, I can tell you how much it cost me.
I cam across a weird bug this afternoon. A piece of code in a Rails app that looked like
Elon Musk now owns Twitter. I didn’t think it would happen. I don’t think he thought it would happen, but now he’s overpaid for an unprofitable service and has set about ruining it with his weird Victorian mill owner management style.
I went bouldering for the first time on Friday and it was fun. A climbing wall has opened in the local shopping centre, in what used to be a combination Dorothy Perkins and Burton clothes shop until Arcadia Group itself went for a Burton a couple of years ago. After walking past it a couple of dozen times, I thought, maybe I should try that. I know a few people who are or were into bouldering – my brother, some former colleagues – but I’d never tried it. A combination of the convenient location and the feeling that I ought to do something to preserve muscle tone as I get older pushed me into giving it a go. I booked an introductory lesson on Friday afternoon; as I was the only one, it ended up being a one-to-one lesson, which was great.
My plan was to use the new OpenAI Whisper automatic speech recognition system so that I could record my blog post while walking, transfer it to my computer, convert it to text, and then probably edit it a bit because natural speech is usually more chaotic than the written word. I went out for a walk, and recorded everything I wanted to say. I got home and uploaded it to my computer, and found that I had recorded almost none of it, thanks to the audio permissions in Android. It captured a few seconds at the start and end, but in the middle where I’d switched to a different app before putting my phone away, it had recorded nothing but ten minutes of silence. It gave me a chance to rehearse what I wanted to say, perhaps. And it was a lovely day for a lunchtime stroll along the river. And it was so blustery that I was sceptical about how well it would come out, but even so, I was hoping for more than that.
My talk at LRUG didn’t go nearly as well as I’d hoped. I had prepared my talk in plenty of time. I had my slides set up to show on the monitor, with notes on my laptop. I had a remote control. I felt calm and ready.
After a recent run of successful 3D prints, failure paid me a visit. I started the print and began cooking. When I came back to check, the printer had melted a huge block of plastic all around the nozzle instead of building up the desired object. The culprit was a loose bearing on the Y axis. I sorted that out and then went through the long and tedious process of tuning the bed height. Apart from a little time and filament wasted, however, no other harm was done.
I worked on Monday. There was a public holiday for the funeral, but I’d rather take a day off when things are open.
The Queen is still dead. Not that you’d have expected anything else. No unexpected resurrection. And yet every radio news bulletin has led with it, as if anyone could possibly not know by now.
The August Bank Holiday is, famously, the last before Christmas in public-holiday-starved England, but I didn’t take Monday off. L— was at home working on a paper, so we went to a nearby café for lunch. It was a welcome change to my normal routine.
Parakeets have moved into our neighbourhood. They’ve been in London for years, especially in the west, and I’ve seen one or two in Russia Dock Woodland in Rotherhithe on a few occasions, but they’ve suddenly arrived en masse in the past fortnight. I hear their distinctive cry more than I see them, but I’ve seen them in neighbours’ gardens and on our roof this week, and I saw a flock of at least half a dozen while walking home yesterday. I wonder what has brought them here now.
It’s cooler in London. We’ve had a tiny bit of rain, though not enough. Life is much more bearable.
On my day off on Thursday I went on a long and hilly walk. I fancied a change of scenery, so I searched for “walks near London” and stumbled upon a walk up and around Box Hill on a very useful and comprehensive website. I chose the circular route and headed to Waterloo to take the train to the unusually-named settlement of Westhumble.
I was passively-aggressively unsubscribed from a mailing list because I “wasn’t reading it”. I was, actually, but because my email client blocks images by default (a good thing!), they couldn’t tell. Spy pixel vendors are selling a lie, and unfortunately people (a musician in this case) don’t know better than to believe them.
My skin is getting better. By gently exfoliating and regularly applying emollient cream to my face (as frequently as one an hour when it was at its worst), that has now mostly recovered from the outbreak of eczema. It still feels a bit rough in places, but it looks fine.
I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night, or Monday night, or Tuesday night. It was too hot. I was in two different kinds of pain. By Wednesday night, I was so deranged from lack of sleep that my mind was beginning to fray. L— was at a course in Oxford, so I went to bed early and looked forward to making up that sleep deficit.
Our favourite local bar and vegan burger place, The Full Nelson in Deptford, closed for the last time last night. It was a lovely, cosy, friendly place, usually playing some 80s metal or rock, full of extraordinary looking people and cute dogs. It hadn’t been open long when we found it shortly after I met L— in 2017, and we’ve been going at least every other week to get some beers, to eat some (delicious) burgers, and usually to solve a crossword together. It’s devastating to lose something so special.
I went to give blood, for the 37th time. They’ve got new finger stab devices (I’m sure there’s a proper name) for the iron level tests, and they’re a definite improvement over the old ones. You still get stabbed, but the new ones leave less bruising. A few hours later, I couldn’t even tell it had happened. The old ones used to leave a mark for days.
I put up a blind in my office window. It’s just a simple white roller blind that cuts 30% of the light. It solves the problem that around late afternoon, the sun shines directly in and makes it unbearably bright and hot. Not every day, clearly, this is England, but often enough to be annoying. I can close the curtains, but then it’s dark. Now, however, I can have daylight without that death ray effect.
I’m exhausted because I was woken up at two in the morning by an alarm going off. It was a particularly annoying alarm, a clanging mechanical bell like some kind of old fire station. It’s hot, so we had the window open, but it was disturbing even with the window closed. I found some earplugs and managed to resume my sleep, but the overall results were less refreshing than I had hoped.
Elizabeth Windsor completed another consecutive year of not dying. (What? Why are you looking at me like that? That’s exactly what a Jubilee is: staying alive for a round number of years while being a monarch.)
I met a couple of friends from university for an evening of live music from Mount Forel, Anteloper (who are looking for a new name, I think because there’s a US band called the same), and Cosmorat (“Our aim is to become the biggest band on LinkedIn”). All put on a great show. I cut it quite fine but managed to catch the last tube home from the Deep North (well, the northern Zone 2/3 borders).
I finished putting together a beater bike for L—: one that isn’t too expensive or risky to ride somewhere and leave parked. She has a Brompton, which is very convenient in one respect, but you have to take them with you. Sometimes that isn’t possible.
A different kind of bicycle drama this week. I was half asleep on the sofa when a loud bang roused me. This was followed by a hissing that alerted me to the cause: the rubber around the valve stem of my Brompton wheel had split and the valve was no longer connected to the tube.
I had an awful experience cycling along the pedestrian and cycle path next to the East London Line on Sunday afternoon. It was a sunny day, with many people walking and cycling. I heard an engine behind, and five or six young men on three motorbikes (or maybe scooters) approached at high speed. When I became an impediment to their progress, because I couldn’t get out of their way when they nearly crashed into me on both sides, they deliberately tried to knock me off.
I eventually finished off all the cauliflower I’d cooked, L— came back from her trip to France, and life is back to normal.
L— is away visiting friends in France, so I’ve been home alone, and I needed to use up the enormous cauliflower from our vegetable box, so my diet has been a bit monotonous. I still have several servings left. At least the thing I cooked (Indian style with spinach) is tasty.
My bout of covid wasn’t too bad. By Monday I felt pretty normal again, with just a bit of a productive cough. The weirdest symptom I had, which seems to affect others too, was painful reflux, but that was easy to deal with by taking antacid tablets.
Covid has breached our perimeter. L— had to work all weekend. She came home on Sunday with a sore throat, did a lateral flow test, and lost. After two and a bit years of treating patients with covid, she finally got it. Symptoms so far seem limited to a sore throat, achiness, and feeling sorry for herself.
I had plans for Thursday afternoon. I was going to take a book to the park and read in the sun on what was possibly the warmest day of the year so far. But then I reached beneath the sink, touched something wet, and realised that my afternoon was going to be consumed by a plumbing emergency instead.
I don’t feel like I did much this past week. The weather was nice, and I took a few long walks in the sun. I didn’t even need a coat on Friday.
L— had the week off so it was my turn to be at work while she wasn’t, at least from Monday to Wednesday.
We have a new fence, thanks to our neighbour, and his van, tools, and building expertise. We have concrete posts this time, so that ought to last for a while even if there’s another storm.
I stayed up late on Wednesday working on refactoring my oscillator code, late enough to catch OSINT people spotting troop movements on the Belgorod (Russia) to Kharkiv (Ukraine) road via a traffic jam on Google Maps. At that point it was obvious that whatever Putin was about to do involved a lot more than just Donetsk and Luhansk, and so I stayed up for another few hours while the grim reality unfolded.
I went to give blood for the first time in a while. It was a lovely day for a cycle ride into the City of London, and I didn’t even need a hat or scarf. (It didn’t last: the temperature dropped significantly a day later.) It was my first donation since a brief spell of anaemia last year, but my haemoglobin levels were very good this time, and it all went fine.
I had a bit of a Spın̈al Tap moment this week. I wanted to tidy up my soldering tools, so I ordered a small toolbox. It’s one thing to see it advertised as 12.5”. It’s quite another to receive the tiny box, open it, and realise that the usable volume is much less than the length as measured at its longest point would indicate. Now I still have a mess plus a box that’s too small. It might be good for holding sewing stuff instead: it’s not really worth the hassle of returning something so cheap.
My circuit boards arrived from JLCPCB and they’ve really exceeded my expectations. The front panels that I intended to be temporary turned out perfectly, and as I made Kicad fooprints for all the elements, I now have the ability to make other panels in the same style very easily. I even like the bog standard vector PCB lettering for the labels.
All the components have arrived for my Pipistrelle project, and I’m just waiting for the circuit boards. Those were completed towards the end of the week, and they’re currently somewhere at a Fedex facility in Guangzhou.
I finally ordered the circuit boards for my Eurorack project, which I’ve given the name Pipistrelle after the soprano pipistrelle bats that live in the woodland by our house.
I was torn on how to number this week, whether to restart at 1 (the ISO week number), or keep going, or do something else entirely. But as I started with 0 back in January 2021, I decided to just continue. There is an ISO week 53 in some years, but never a 54, so it will no longer be ambiguous from next week. It’s nice to have a monotonically-increasing number as an encouragement.