Month: March 2020


I am the greatest m*****f*****
That you’re ever gonna meet.
From the top of my head
Down to the tips of the toes on my feet.
So go ahead and love me while it’s still a crime-
And don’t forget you could be laughing
Sixty five percent more of the time.


Does waking up at 7 instead of 6 because the clocks have gone forward count as sleeping in? Didn’t think so. Got up, had a leisurely breakfast and spent some quality time with the kids while J went out for a run.

Even though we had a delivery yesterday, we’re already running out of bread, thanks to the less than understandable “one loaf per delivery” restriction Ocado had on. There was enough for lunch but not for sandwiches over the next few days.

Checked my work Slack; seems like the bug that was raised on Friday finally has some details I can look in to; sadly it seems to have been caused by some really odd behaviour to do with quote escaping from Azure DevOps worker agents. Spend a little time working around it, then replied back to say it’s properly fixed (and that the other supposed problems also mentioned are behaviour according to design).

Attempted to make bread. I should have had more than enough flour and yeast, but I could only find one sachet of the latter, rather than the 100g can I could have sworn was still half full. Left it to rise for a couple of hours and nothing happened; in a fit of desperation I cropped a couple of (sanitised) dessert spoons of krausen from the beer fermenter and kneaded that in. Hopefully I might have something approaching bread now, and I haven’t just ruined both a loaf of bread and 5 gallons of beer at the same time.


Woken by the alarm. That’s a novelty I haven’t missed. Caught up on work while waiting for the kids to wake up. Looked at the bread dough I left last night; miraculously, it had risen overnight. Put it to one side for baking later, before a family breakfast and the commute back upstairs.

A busy and disappointing morning; the project delivery was pulled at the last minute due to a serious flaw in a vendor system that only appeared when they tried to scale up the cluster to take production traffic. Spent the day writing some lambda code to automate dashboard updating, along with various interminable meetings. Found time, somehow, to put the bread in the oven. It’s delightful; the beer yeast has given it just the slightest hint of something that you don’t usually find in normal white bread. Maybe I should start a sourdough-style starter with my yeast cake when I’m done.

The rest of the day passed far more quickly than it had any right to; meetings with bickering development teams, status update meetings, putting together a slide deck on where we are project-wise. Threw together a stir fry for dinner, lots of fresh vegetables are just what I feel like I need right now.

Light as the Breeze

So I knelt there at the delta,
At the alpha and the omega,
At the cradle of the river and the seas.
And like a blessing come from heaven
For something like a second
I was healed and my heart was at ease


Still haven’t got the hang of this sleeping in late thing. Up early, working a little before the kids disturbed me too much. So much for my meeting-light Fridays; I sit down at the kitchen table with them at about 9am and didn’t have a chance to take my headset off until gone 12, by which time one child was getting frustrated with his home learning, stuck trying to work out how to get his chromebook to do what he wants, and the other had long since run out of colouring.

The state of the house is getting to me; it’s a tip. I’ve resolved to try to give it a good tidy this weekend but we’ll see how well that works out. For the afternoon I attempt last-minute bug fixes for the big switch over at the weekend, not helped by vagueness of bug reports and complaints that something doesn’t work being greeted with silence when I ask for more details. Eventually we get the green light, and on Sunday night our hard work will be live. I’ll have to be online at 7am to take the second shift of handling any fallout, but that’s a small thing. This is a project that 6 weeks ago, when I joined, was predicted to fail and fail hard. Had a brief interlude for a “pub quiz” with colleagues around 4pm; was a bit of fun, and manage to get dinner on the table for a reasonable time. Kids in bed, had plenty of time to kick back and watch the finale of Star Trek: Picard and drink beer. My supplies are running low. The Kölsch in the fermenter will need a bit of lagering time before it’s ready to drink. Hopefully my monthly Northern Monk delivery will be here soon; even with that I might have to start drinking beer from the supermarket soon. Bah.


Awoke only slightly less early, after a restless night. I was expecting after the staying-up-late-to-make-beer shenanigans that I might get a better night’s rest; no such luck. Ocado order arrives with a bunch of substitutions, one of which I have to send back as it’s unsuitable due to ingredients. The most annoying part was the substitution of things for smaller sizes; can’t make dinner for four with only ingredients for two. On the other hand, it’s not a massive problem. Next week I’ll have to actually go out grocery shopping, our next delivery isn’t until two weeks’ time (and we only got that due to having priority over non-Smart Pass customers).

Went out for a bike ride. The roads were mostly quiet, and I didn’t see anyone taking liberties with the speed limit like I’ve heard of happening. Most people seemed to be being sensible and following the guidance, apart from one group of six adults who obviously weren’t all from the same household and had taken it upon themselves to go for a meander in a tight-knit group. Top idiot-of-the-day points, however, go to the runner who got way too close while I was going through a staggered gate on the Wandle Trail and yelled at me to get out of his way.

“Dad, when can we have picnic in the park?” Social distancing rules mean we can’t, so we had a picnic in the garden. If was cold, but also fun. Nice to have these little moments of not a care in the world. Had flashbacks to eating sandwiches under a tree in the pouring rain outside York Castle Museum last year, that had the same “We’re going to have fun regardless” vibe.

Took the kids out for a short walk around the block later in the afternoon, to count rainbows in the windows. Technically that’s twice for exercise in one day but walking (or indeed, cycling) with them isn’t exercise for me, and they needed to get out of the house if only for ten minutes, plus I hadn’t managed to get out at all since Sunday. Fisherman’s pie for dinner, then got them ready for bed at some semblance of a sensible hour. Had our usual family episode of Doctor Who – this week it was Vincent and The Doctor, in which an invisible threat is killing people. Sounded a little familiar.

Kids in bed, I collapsed on the sofa in front of Altered Carbon. Hopefully we’ll get more tidying done tomorrow.

Nothing Compares 2 U

It’s been so lonely without you here;
Like a bird without a song.
Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling
Tell me baby, where did I go wrong?


Woke up early. Again. This seems to be becoming a habit. One child still snoring, I took the other one downstairs very, very quietly and found cartoons on Disney+ to watch. Tried the new version of Duck Tales, but it’s just lacking… something… compared to the original. Soul, maybe? It’s computer animated rather than hand drawn. We stuck with the late 80s/ early 90s nostalgia ‘toons, at least until the rest of the household emerged at gone 8am, by which point I’d also been horribly organised and put the pork for dinner in the sous vide..

Getting into a routine now; breakfast, head upstairs for meetings, followed by work, followed by more meetings, then lunch, which for a change wasn’t wolfed down in 5 minutes flat.

Back to the office, interviewed one of the candidates from last week for the second time – they’ll be getting an offer from us – and then spent an hour demonstrating to our (supposedly technical) end users how to use the tools I’ve been building for them. That was like pulling teeth. Demonstration was fine, then asked “Any questions?” Silence. Followed by, just after I start to move on. “Actually, what about <X>?”. The “Any further questions?”, silence, and last-minute interruption sequence goes on for more than half an hour.

Cooking dinner at a time that suits both our working hours and the kids’ bedtime is becoming a bit of a chore; people pinging me about work at mealtimes is also unhelpful (to be fair, 1. they’re overseas and 2. I’d usually still be at the office at that time under normal circumstances).

Eventually collapsed onto the sofa at 9pm, way too late to make beer, and watched the final episodes of Parks and Recreation, a series that we were way, way too late coming to.


Slept in. No, wait, the other thing. Woke before 6 again. Not much notable about the day other than the boss promises we’ll be done with this project (at least in terms of delivery) by 4pm tomorrow so we can all have a clear weekend. Yeah, right, I’ll believe that when I see it.

Again, managed a leisurely-ish lunch! Just one ping on Slack, which I accidentally ignored because my phone and laptop were both upstairs. Wasn’t massively important anyway, just a question about something I already had in hand. The afternoon was free of interviews for a change (though only because the candidate cancelled on us), so I had a little more time to check in on my team and find out where they’re up to with their work. Good to see some progress on stuff that will turn out to be more important than we’d first envisaged!

Once again, a late dinner, though not as bad as yesterday. Got the brew kit out finally and started to heat the water to strike point around 8pm, setting up by the back door. Was simply in awe of the number of people who stood out on the street (ourselves included) to applaud the NHS efforts, complete with fireworks up the road. I’m usually something of a cynic when it comes to these things; perhaps I should be slightly less so in future. Had a brief chat with our next door neighbours before we went back inside; they’re helping out a local greengrocer they know get produce to those who can’t get out themselves. I’m slightly envious; between the children and the job, I don’t have even the tiniest bit of energy left over to go into helping those less fortunate. I suppose I’m already doing two jobs at once (or at least one and a half) what with the kids.

I haven’t left the house in five days, except for the odd ten minutes in the garden. Tomorrow I need to make time to get out on the bike, one way or another.

There is an Everlasting Song

There is an everlasting song on my lips;
I got up early so I don’t let that song slip,
And mighty is the voice I’m singing with –
It beats out all the dread.
Defeats the hours of darkness


Sunday night I went to bed at 8:30, and slept through to 6am, felt much better for it. Dragged myself out of bed and did a little light email / slack while I waited for the kids to dress. J got an hour’s solid work in before breakfast, then I settled into a day of meetings, and general hell. Things breaking, AWS suspending all c5.large EC2 spot instances in their Dublin datacentres due to demand for on-demand ones (and yes, I know, that shouldn’t be an issue; I wasn’t the one who configured the affected system in the first place).

Managed to snatch 5 minutes to wolf down a roast lamb sandwich, rather than the leisurely time at the table with the kids I’d imagined, then back into the madness. Yet another candidate to interview, this one not so good, a meeting about CI/CD pipelines that I had absolutely zero need to have been in, another meeting cancelled 5 minutes after it was supposed to start.

Next meeting: team catch up, which at least has good news. D, who’s been down as interim Head of Systems, has been given the job on a permanent basis. We have a quick private catch up afterwards and set some time aside for later in the week to discuss what we want to do next.

Dinner with the kids was at least enjoyable, as was putting up the rainbow pictures they’ve drawn for the windows. Funnily enough I’ve been feeling a lot better about things today; let’s see how well I manage tomorrow when it’s my turn to be the work/child juggler.


Woke up, started working at 6:30 to try to get some time in before juggling kids and the office kicked in. Made a decent amount of progress, then sat down to breakfast with J and the kids. That was nice.

Settled at the kitchen table, one child on his Chromebook doing his schoolwork, the other doing colouring during my morning calls. Helped a little with the schoolwork, which was good, and had some really lovely pictures from the other. Prepared lunch while they were both doing “PE with Joe” later in the morning, then wolfed down a toasted sandwich during yet another call before a final stage interview between 12:30 and 2:30. J was upstairs, on her work-without-distraction day.

Got a little bit of time to spend with them properly later in the afternoon while cooking bolognese sauce for tea, which was nice, but I wish there was more to be done. While we were eating got a Slack ping from my boss asking could I jump on a call to demo some work to the stakeholders. Didn’t get to replying until an hour later, by which time the meeting had long ended; that’s the way it’s got to be right now. I can’t sacrifice all the time I get with the kids regardless of the importance of this deadline. It’s not who I am.

Both kids are generally unsettled right now; after putting them both to bed and talking to J in the living room, a knock on the door was followed by a tearful Sleeper Jr. “You didn’t give me a cuddle goodnight!”. Took him back upstairs and got into bed with him, eventually getting to the gist which was that being home is nice but he’s missing having other kids to play with. Eventually get him to cheer up by getting the remote control for the toy tank he’s built from a construction kit working; he chased me around the room with it, laughing.

Downstairs, J was worrying that we aren’t giving the kids enough quality time. She’s probably right but I don’t have a good answer for that. We talk through some of the things we can maybe do to help. . She heads off to bed while I start cleaning my beer making kit. Tomorrow, there shall be wort!

Napoleon Complex

Who pulls the strings?
Who makes the deals?
Stands five foot three in Cuban heels?
Who gets all the girls, then wakes up again?
Who will rule the world?
Who will make them scream his name?


Awoke again at stupid o’clock. Took delivery of the week’s groceries, mostly intact. Up to now Ocado seem to have got off lightly with regards to stock problems. Maybe because there’s no instant gratification? When we put the order in, we had no idea the kids would be at home. There’s plenty to eat, it just might not be to their tastes. Oh well.

Headed out to the garden centre at 9am, aiming to arrive, and more importantly, leave, before it got even remotely busy. The car park was half full even then, though it seems like most of the traffic was for their attached farm shop; I stayed well clear. Picked up a few fruit and vegetable seeds plus some pots and hot-footed out of there before it got crazy.

Checked in on the bug fix I’d applied to an overnight backup job at work; despite being apparently part of yesterday’s release, it hadn’t gone live. Digging revealed that the person who did a full release yesterday didn’t do an actual full release, just pushed changes to the components he wanted fixed. Pushed it out properly.

Chatted with the next door neighbours while mowing the lawn; they’re well and don’t see themselves as being at particularly high risk, despite being retired. They have everything they need at the moment, and seemed keener on making sure we’re in the same situation. Got a phone call from both bosses on different phones at once; can I override the environment scheduler and spin up some development environments? Easy enough.

Afternoon: requisitioned a desk from one of the kids’ rooms to set up a work area for J in our bedroom. Fed them spicier-than-expected enchiladas, and introduced them to the glass of milk as a cure for spicy food burning your mouth.


Woken at 4am by Sleeper Jr. knocking on our bedroom door; he’d had a nightmare. After an extended hug, he went back to his own bed and I dozed until about 6am. Check Ocado’s website and do the next week’s worth of shopping. Noted that they’ve sneakily put limits in place; can’t add two different loaves of bread to the order at once. Got up properly around 8am, and the kids presented J with the gifts and cards they bought two weeks ago when I took them shopping. So much has happened since then, it seems more like years ago.

Took the kids on a bike ride in the afternoon; minimal traffic on the roads but the park we’d usually cycle through is still fairly busy. The extended family enjoying a mothers’ day picnic in The Grove earned a few choice words from me under my breath. There’s still too much of the attitude that it doesn’t matter, that it’s just flu. It isn’t. Mostly everyone else we encountered was behaving the same as us; trying to get a bit of exercise and keeping fit while keeping their distance.

Cooked dinner on my return; a leg of lamb which will hopefully fill more than a few sandwiches as well over the course of the week. Called Mum while we were waiting for it to cook; we still have one child who doesn’t really want to talk to her. She confirmed what I’ve been hearing from social media and the news; hundreds of people have descended on the coast in a display of absolute mass stupidity.

I’m exhausted. Hopefully I’ll get a full night’s sleep tonight.

Ukulele Anthem

Quit the bitching on your blog,
And stop pretending art is hard!
Just limit yourself to three chords,
And do not practice daily!
You’ll minimize some stranger’s sadness
With a piece of wood and plastic.
Holy f*ck it’s so fantastic, playing ukulele!

Today’s blog entry courtesy of my colleague Rob who gave his daughter a ukulele for her birthday yesterday. Anyway…


Woke early (5am) after struggling to get to sleep. J had it even worse, not getting to sleep until 1, worrying about how we’re going to manage to try to work from home with kids around and pay the childcare bills for the youngest, whose nursery needs to keep charging.

Dropped the kids off at nursery and with the childminder; mention that if she’s available we might need her services for different hours for the foreseeable future, though we don’t know exactly when yet; we’re trying to work out . Her daughter’s just had her A-Levels cancelled. Back home, picked up the bike and went for a ride. Can’t say I’ve noticed the streets being much quieter as yet. Get home feeling not a huge amount better for the exercise. My Fitbit failed to sync with the phone so there’s no GPS track. Annoying, but pretty much the definition of a first world problem.

Headed to my desk and pinged my boss (who’s leaving in two weeks) and his interim replacement, D, on Slack letting them know that I don’t know what’s going to happen to my work pattern. I get back a response that looks like it’s been copied and pasted from a “what to say to employees who express concern about work patterns” guide somewhere. Hopped onto a video call with him and take the piss at his ability to write corporate boilerplate, and agree that for on some days I’ll be working on a best-effort basis. This is uncharted territory for us all.

Popped out around 10:30 to get some bread from the Co-Op. They have almost nothing at all. Fortunately a bread delivery arrives while I’m there. I buy a loaf and some eggs and head back. They’re queueing out of the door at the butcher’s shop – never seen that before except at Christmas. Headed back home, got my head down and do some work, including interviewing a frankly fantastic candidate for the opening on my team.

The kids come home about 6pm; Sleeper Jr. has been issued with a skipping rope to help with doing PE at home, along with logins for remote teaching resources. The school are going to continue to set work every day, so there’s that.

We call my mum on FaceTime, to see how she’s doing and reiterate both my brothers’ insistence that she stays away from people as much as possible. By the time we get the kids into bed it’s gone 8pm, much later than usual.

The last journey home


Dropped the youngest off at nursery; there was a really odd air of melancholy there. Many of the kids won’t see each other again; they’ll be off to school in September, all over the place, and who knows when the nursery will re-open? Drop t’other one off at breakfast club; they’re not expecting so many people today, and only have one of their two rooms open. One of the other parents mentions the list of Key Workers is a lot longer than they expected; sure enough IT infrastructure for Telecommunications Companies is there; I don’t think keeping the front door of the website open counts; my boss later suggests it could be argued that way – if we can’t deliver on our current project, we can’t accept payments, and we’ll be out of business fairly quickly. Don’t really see it that way myself. Anyway, as it happens it seems like there are fewer places available than there is demand at the school. There are people who need the availability more than us.

Working day was quiet, heads-down, get stuff done. After a few meetings (including the now-daily 4:30pm “blow off steam” Slack call), headed out to pick up from the nursery.

“We’ll still be doing the graduation, at some point,” said K, the manager. That’d usually take place in July; who knows what’s going to happen by then. She looked like she’s been crying, or at least trying very hard not to. She was definitely trying to be cheerful for the kids, who had an impromptu party and a disco this afternoon, complete with crisps! and party rings!

Back home, jumped on a Zoom call to discuss strategy for the next few days; work is in a crunch period. I lighten the mood a little bit by having Sleeper Jr. on the call. He’s asked if he can help out with the Oracle issues and responds with a bemused smile. He’s not doing so well emotionally; it’s been a massive change pretty much overnight.

“Can we call Grandma?” came the question. Of course we can, I replied, Grandma always loves talking to you. One child over effervescent, and the other barely speaking, we managed the call and put the kids to bed. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Hat Full of Sunshine

Life is a laugh when you’ve got the joke;
Get yourself together, get on with the show.
Onwards we go, onto new adventures-
The best ones I’ve known I can barely remember

COVID-19 diary – WFH day 3 of whatever.


Worked from home; so far so unusual, other than I usually choose to WFH later in the week. Suspecting isolation was only a matter of time, dig my bike out of the garage and clean it up. Need some way of getting minimum exercise over the next few weeks. And not running. I hate running.

Also ordered ingredients for about 160 pints of beer. Who knows when or even if they’ll turn up (edit: Thursday, apparently) but if I’m going to be stuck at home I might as well work on increasing my stock levels. Besides, the small businesses like the brewing suppliers I use need all the support they can get.

At 10pm an email comes in saying all staff who could must stay away from the office and WFH, and that anyone who couldn’t needed approval from top-level management to come in.


Get up, drop kids off at nursery and school. Changed into my cycling kit and headed out on an 8-mile bike ride before work. Helped clear my head a bit; will try to do that as often as possible.

First day of everyone WFH and things don’t go horribly badly; a few teething issues around access for some people to resources due to AWS security group constraints no-one had even thought of, let alone expected to be a problem. Video calls are horrible; too many people using consumer-grade internet connections at once with high contention ratios. I’m getting used to talking to fuzzy clouds of pixels.

Emails come in from Sleeper Jr’s school; as of now all extra-curricular clubs are cancelled, along with all school trips and the school disco that was going to take place on Thursday. It’s closely followed by an email saying that all Scout meetings are suspended indefinitely. Later on the news reaches me that my brother and his wife are now self-isolating after he’s come down with a cough. Stay healthy, both!

Emails also from some of the small companies I’ve invested in through crowdfunding. They make for very sober reading. One expects a drop in orders of 80% as a result of the combination of social distancing and supermarkets prioritising essential staples. Ouch. Wouldn’t be surprised if all of those small investments (all centred around the hospitality industry) are wiped out. My pension pot and a larger shareholding in my previous employer have taken a massive battering already, the latter having lost 60% of its value since I got the shares last summer, almost all of that in the last couple of weeks.


We’re running low on Weetabix. We’ve not been excessively stockpiling, but it seems like we’re the only ones. There’s a queue on the Ocado website of 2 hours just to make a change to a basket. As I’m walking Sleeper Jr. to school, another email; the kids’ swimming classes are cancelled indefinitely too. Yet another small business who are going to struggle; they’re taught by couple of swimming instructors who hire a local school pool at weekends.

As the day goes on we think of more things that we need to add to the shopping. There’s a queue of 15,000 people waiting to get into the Ocado website, 2 hours long, and I keep getting to the front while I’m working only to lose my spot because I didn’t notice quickly enough. Frustrating. Even more frustrating is when the queue is replaced with a “We’re closing the site until Saturday” message.

5pm: Notice is given that schools are going to close. That’s going to burn through the savings pretty quickly if we have to pay for childcare we can’t use and take time off to look after the little darlings. Hopefully we both have understanding bosses.

Work is blending into life too much. Admittedly there’s a massive deadline at the end of this week but I really, really hope I can maintain a better separation than I have so far; I can’t resist the temptation to poke the code i’m working on and get it that little bit more functional. I rather suspect from next week onwards all the days will be like this.

Tune in in a few days more to see if I’ve gone postal yet…