Category: Introspection

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you
By Xerox in four parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon blowing a bugle.


If wittering on about my life stuck at home were ever important to talk about, today isn’t the day to do it. See most other Tuesdays for details of that; today is a day to listen to the lived experiences of others who don’t have the benefits of being born with innate privileges inner society, and to what one can do to help reduce those societal inequalities.

Pay attention to the stories of black folks especially; racism is all over the place but it seems worst directed at those with Black heritage, especially in the USA – but definitely not exclusively. Donate to causes which help to level the playing field, and spend money with businesses owned by those people who are the worst affected by the current situation.

Hopefully the revolution will be televised.


Up earlier than usual; I have a meeting at 8:30 to go over the slide deck for tomorrow’s all-hands; then it’s a day full of a non-stop tour of the the usual projects strands across various parts of the business. Managed to break for lunch for an hour before heading back in for an interview with someone who, sadly, didn’t pass the bar. The rest of the day blurred together; the final session at 5:00pm was delayed by one of the key decision makers being late, which in turn had a knock-on effect on dinner, which I was meant to be cooking. In the end, even more incredulously, after a vote, no decision was made on what to do next, the result being an unsatisfying “Just do both things“. I referred them to my product owner, who’ll decide whether we can even fit our option into the work schedule, and headed out for the day.

Dinner was pan-fried pork rib-eyes with sweet potato wedges and mushrooms. The pork was incredibly tasty but I think it needed a different way of cooking; the steaks were somewhat unevenly cut and cooked at different rates, though they were very tasty.

Kids in bed, I baked a cake while J wrapped gifts. Tomorrow’s a special day.


Blimey, was this really eight years ago? Awake fairly early, but Sleeper, Jr decided he wanted to stay in bed until 8am; I think he was enjoying that feeling of having the whole of his birthday ahead of him, the anticipation that today was going to be a magical day. We had a lovely session unwrapping presents (he seems to have been given an incredible number of Harry Potter Lego sets), then busied ourselves making a picnic.

While I was busying myself with the cake decoration, K called around with her son; the two boys go to Beavers together, and we had a nice socially-distanced chat in the front garden before returning to the task of sandwich manufacture. We set off somewhat later than planned, but got to Oaks Park at a decent time, having worked up an appetite walking along countryside paths next to fields and stables. It’s nice to be able to walk to the very edge of the city and see green open areas, even if it’s a little further than we’d go on a regular basis. The park was reasonably busy, and the cafe was doing a decent trade, but it wasn’t by any means crowded; plenty of space for everyone and the kids had fun running around in the wide open space.

On our return home, there were more cards to open and Super Mario Party to play on the Nintendo Switch. I got rather annoyed at the RNG, but everyone else had fun, and before we knew it it was time for me to go out and pick up the Fish and Chip supper from the local chip shop, which is only doing advance orders at specific time slots. It was acceptable, I guess. The mushy peas were a let down and it’d be so much better if it hadn’t been wrapped up in paper steaming itself while we waited for dinner time.

Kids packed off to bed after dinner, we collapsed in front of the sofa. It’s been a delightful day, one which wouldn’t have happened under any other circumstances. Properly quality time, something that is more valuable than anyone in the world.

Is it Like Today?

Then there followed days of kings,
Empires and revolution.
Blood just looks the same
When you open the veins.
Sometimes it was faith, power or reason as the cornerstone;
But the furrowed brow has never left his face.

He said:
“How could it come to this?
We’re really living in a landslide…
How could it come to this?
Yeah, we really wanna know about this!”


Woke up feeling completely unrefreshed. Rolled into yet another day of meetings, mostly around the newly accelerated project schedule that we’ve been lumbered. I’m starting to suffer from what I’ll call Zoom fatigue; all the different sessions blended into one and I’ve no idea whether I’m coming or going. By the time 5:30 rolls around I’ve been both frazzled and frustrated at a lack of getting anything I’d planned done.

At least lunch, sandwiches made with the fresh sourdough, was awesome. I need to spend more time outside; had a little bit of time to tend to the vegetables and the was fantastic. Ordered a bunch of beer from Big Drop Brewing, who specialise in alcohol-free beers. I’ve been relaxing with a drink at the end of the day far too much recently and I want to avoid overdoing it. Not that I’m drinking more than one beer most nights, but that’s probably one more than is entirely good for me.

Finished up the day making up a new batch of beer, The Beer Called American Dave. The original Dave was a traditional saison, this one is a twist on the original made with West Coast hops. Took a break around 10 to watch StarLink go past, then crawled into bed around 11:30.


Woke agin, feeling even worse – groggy and headachey, as if I’d been drinking heavily. Nope; dug out some paracetamol and hoped I’d feel better later. Any thoughts that today might have been quieter, work-wise, than Monday were swiftly dashed. Standup, then the architecture meeting, then an hour of knowledge transfer with a new member of the performance and chaos team, walking him through our environment creation automation. All good, but talking to a screen for hours is exhausting. Broke for lunch, then back for a meeting with various development teams that didn’t feel all that useful and ended inconclusively. Finished the day with a vendor meeting that didn’t go to plan but at least got something concrete out of it.

Both kids were restless in the evening, at one point while I was catching up with friends over a couple of FaceTime beers. I caught one of them coming out of the other’s bedroom at almost nine o’clock. At half past, there was a loud wail from A outside my office door, in the form of “Daddy, I can’t get to sleep!” No idea what was wrong, but she decided she wanted her mum, and finally went to sleep 15 minutes later being hugged. Turned in myself about an hour later, after a little bit of shipping goods around in X: Beyond The Frontier.


Woke up feeling rested for a change. First email I read is from D, saying he’s taking the day off at short notice and cancelling a number of today’s meetings. He pinged me on Slack not long after; turns out he’s not actually taking a day off, just working in stealth mode because he’s been snowed under, just like me. There might be a little bit of good news; no promises yet but even the suggestion that deadlines might be flexible has lifted my spirits just a little.

The sample jar of saison wort I left on the windowsill seems to have started to ferment spontaneously. I’ll have a tiny sample of some sort of lambic soon, it seems, as well as the main fermenter which has gone off like a rocket. The kids are exhausted – after last night, I’m entirely unsurprised.

Maybe an early night for everyone was in order, but it didn’t happen; while A was happy to go to bed, Sleeper Jr. wasn’t; after the bedtime story he wanted to talk to us but couldn’t verbalise his feelings. Ended up holding him, sobbing, for twenty minutes while he had a good cry. I let him have a bounce on the trampoline in the dark before bed, then got into bed with him and let him borrow my childhood teddy bear overnight. Teddy Edward always seems to help the kids feel safe when they’re down. I think a return to schoolwork has brought back the realisation of just how much he misses his friends.

Eventually we finally sat down to relax on the sofa at gone half nine, watching the second episode of Dark Matter. Don’t ask me what happened in it in any detail though, by that point my brain was mushier than mush. Things are taking their toll.

I Can’t Forget

I stumbled out of bed,
I got ready for the struggle.
I smoked a cigarette
And I tightened up my gut.
I said this can’t be me-
Must be my double.

And I can’t forget, I can’t forget.
I can’t forget, but I don’t remember what.


Last week, I was waiting for a day when nothing went right, seems like I didn’t have to hang around for too long. Woke about 7am from a full night’s sleep feeling groggy. I don’t remember any nightmares this time, but definitely didn’t feel rested. Made my first mistake of the day waking Sleeper Jr. – having let him stay up late, he really wasn’t ready to get up and I should have left him be rather than ask him to come and get breakfast. As a result he was needy and upset for most of the morning.

Second mistake was, while frustrated at someone who wouldn’t let me get a word in edgeways in a conference call about something I’d delivered, raising my voice to the point of almost shouting to try to get my point across. Sincere apologies were forthcoming immediately, both to the subject of my frustration and my boss for making the rest of the team look bad, but it put my own mood into an intense downer for the rest of the day, being incredibly angry with myself.

I didn’t calm down over lunch; J suggested I go for a walk to clear my head, so I stomped around the neighbourhood for a half hour. Not sure it helped all that much if I’m honest, other than reminding me that my winter jacket is way too warm for the weather now. Also unhelpful for my mood was the rumour finding its way back to me that I’d been involved in a full-on, three way, shouting match. Nope.

Having prepared for a bunch of calls over the afternoon, it turned out that I can’t even read a calendar properly and the vast majority were tomorrow, which I only realised after pinging the organiser of one of them. Argh. Eventually stopped work about 5:30 after discussing the plan of attack for tonight’s go-live and getting some minor auditability improvements done to a bunch of our infrastructure stacks, my brain feeling like it was melting. Watched the daily government briefing and correctly surmised that the prime minister was a lot more ill than anyone was willing to say out loud.

Spent most of the evening yawning, so headed to bed early hoping for some decent rest, but didn’t manage to sleep until much later. Early start in the morning, supporting the go-live process that others were going to start at midnight.


In some ways a better day, in others, not so much. Got up at 6:45, at my desk for 7 to take over from my boss who’d been working the midnight to 7 shift for the big rollout. Joined the war room call, and sat and kept an eye on various metrics and logs. Breakfast was at my desk, though shortly afterwards I dropped from the call leaving one of my team to field any questions, with instruction to grab me if anything needed my attention. Which it did at 11:50, just as I was about to take lunch. Ninety minutes later, I’d missed lunch with the family, eating it at my desk, and conclusively proved this was a problem somewhere outside of our control.

Eventually stopped working at about 5, after nearly 10 hours of sitting in the same place, set my out of office and shut off the laptop. I might mot be allowed to go anywhere but I’m still going to take my booked time off. I want to spend a few days not caring about work. Had a pleasant dinner and got the kids into bed remarkably early, giving me plenty of time to talk to J before a FaceTime beers session into the evening. We finished, not so many beers down as last time, and not quite so late as last time, but still plenty late enough. I’m ready for a rest.

One Foot in Front of the Other

How did I come to this, where every song I sing
Is nothing but a list of pain and suffering?

We never will forget, and no, we will not forgive!
We’ve fought hard not to die, yet we don’t know how to live-
How do we change our world to what we want it to be?
How do we move beyond all of this misery?


Ouch. Maybe staying up till midnight talking nonsense isn’t such a good idea after all. Woke at 5am with a headache. Eventually dragged myself out of bed at 7, got the kids up, dressed and breakfasted, then went back to bed for half an hour before I started work at 9, by which time I felt mostly human again. Settled in for a sprint planning session that lasted far longer than it had any right to. I’ll be glad when this project’s over and I can get back to my normally-scheduled work routine.

More cold cuts for lunch, this time in bagels; we’re running out of bread. Lunch was cut short a little as my boss needed an urgent catch up before I headed into an interview at 1pm. We’ve had a run of disastrous candidates; today’s was thankfully an exception, but I don’t know if they have what we’re looking for. Emailed our recruitment team to set him up with the next stage; that will tell me pretty quickly whether he’s any good. For once I had an afternoon free of meetings; I was able to get some work done almost uninterrupted!

Had a long, useful talk after the kids were in bed, about what we can do in the short to medium term about childcare arrangements. While right now we’re not paying anything (or at least, a nominal amount) to the nursery, it’s a struggle to fit full time work in and keep the kids from killing each other. We’ve got something of a plan; hopefully it’ll work out well enough.


Woke at 7 from a nightmare involving trying to contact my mum who’d been admitted to a hospital which bore an uncanny resemblance to Bristol Temple Meads railway station, with added shades of Altered Carbon; people at the reception desks kept tapping at their computers and then talking about sleeve death. I’ve been trying to stay away from current events news too much, to keep the kids’ mental health up as much as anything else, but it’s still obviously getting to me.

Went straight in to an early morning call with my boss to discuss a sudden, unexpected, incoming political bunfight; gave him the data he needs to push back hard. Found myself dragged into a meeting as a result, but managed to give all the details required quickly enough, in contrary to some of the other endless meetings I’ve been in.

Braved the supermarket over lunchtime; wasn’t too horrendous, and at least in the rapidly-moving queue outside everyone was maintaining a reasonable separation. Had a brief chat with the guy marshalling the queue who took advantage of the fact he was outdoors to sneak a crafty roll-up; he’d bee there since 7am and was just getting to the point (at 1 in the afternoon) that he could take a break. Sterling work there; he was in decent spirits despite what must be an enormously boring job. Inside, at least in some aisles, the social distancing wasn’t so great, but armed with the scan-and-pay app I managed to stay away from majority of people and get almost everything I wanted, the exceptions being flour and frozen vegetables, of which they had precisely none. I could at least get pizza dough mix so the plan for home made pizza isn’t out of the window.

Back to work on my return, mostly head down apart from one Zoom call to say goodbye to P, my now ex-boss, and an apologetic one from the new boss asking me to keep an eye on Slack over the weekend due to a badly organised performance test run happening.

Spent some lovely time with Sleeper Jr., talking about major events in recent-ish history; concentrating on the good we’ve been talking about the Apollo missions and the Berlin Wall coming down. We watched some footage from both on YouTube. It’s been nice to actually educate him on things he doesn’t know about, and which aren’t computer programming or maths related for a change. Tomorrow, we’ll maybe get to do some gardening!

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!

Electric Guitars

I had a dream that we were rockstars
And that flashbulbs popped the air
And girls fainted every time we shook our hair.
We were songbirds, we were Greek gods.
We were singled out by fate.
We were quoted out of context – it was great!

It seems to me that we are all rock stars. We all have our time in the foreground then we retreat in time to give the next generation time to make their mark. None of us give ourselves the due credit that we should accept for the difference we’ve made to other people. We all get at least one bite of the cherry of influence, it’s down to us how we choose to use it.

As the 1112th incarnation of the Warped President, I made a difference. There were those who came before me (Four More Years!) and those who came later (Four More Years!). To claim I didn’t have an impact on what happened next, however small, would be denying that I made a difference, however big or small. There are still pictures online, if you know where to look, of those days. Not long after, somewhere in the background, the Support Engineer started to come to the fore, educating anyone who wanted to listen to what he had to say.

After I moved to London, I faded into the South, a fate which had been prophesied for a long time. There are still those who remember me as the Warped President, but as time moves on, another guise takes shape. Depending on where you looked from, I became the Systems Administrator or the Municipal Liason, ready to answer any question about my domain I cared, hoping that you’d understand my point of view.

Look at me today, I’m Daddy, ready to answer a million and more questions that have no answer ( apart from maybe ‘Let’s talk about this tomorrow’). I’m the Application Engineer, ready to use the knowledge I have to come to a conclusion that inevitably causes someone else pain. I’m the bitter ex-ML, disheartened by the direction that something I associated with has taken.

Tomorrow I’ll be someone else again. Someone I haven’t predicted, but still someone who makes a difference somewhere, for good or for ill. And that’s all we can ever be, an influence on the others around us. I’m aiming for it to be for the better, and I don’t imagine anyone who’s come under my sphere of influence in those years can claim they’re doing anything different, one way or the other. I can only hope that all of us are acting in the best interests of everyone. But I can’t imagine that we don’t believe we are. Best is, at most, extremely subjective.

The short version – none of us are the caricatures that could be painted of us. We’re all complicated. Who’d have it any other way?

Rainbow Connection

KermitWhy are there so many songs about rainbows
And what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions
And rainbows have nothing to hide

So we’ve been told
And some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Some day we’ll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me

1st November.

Thirteen years ago today I was sitting in my flat in Manchester, frantically typing away on my debut NaNoWriMo attempt on an even-then ancient laptop which resembled nothing much else than a breeze block. I still have that laptop, and amazingly, it still works.

Ten years ago today I was sitting in my rented room in Wimbledon, not too many miles from here, frantically typing away on my first NaNoWriMo attempt that would actually cross the 50k line.

Four years ago today I was embarking on my first year as ML (basically regional organiser) for the London chapter of NaNoWriMo.

… and so on. You get the picture. Except something’s changed. This year I haven’t even attempted to pick up my laptop and start writing. I’ve been working on and off on one of my long-running projects, but not to the extent that I’ll set myself any kind of goals. I want to write, but I don’t really feel like NaNoWriMo is the right place for me any more. Absolutely, there are still plenty of people I know doing it, but every year I check back into the forums and it feels like everything’s just a little bit safer, a little bit less of the counterculture sort of vibe that there was there in the beginning.

I look at NaNoWriMo right now with detached bemusement; I wouldn’t say that I regret the time I put into any of it, not the writing half a million words of stuff desperately needing a polish, and definitely not the volunteering- the organising meet ups, managing the hectic London calendar or the time spent writing pep talks for the London crowd. But the culture has shifted as years have gone by. Once upon a time, the ML guide to life was written by Chris Baty, the man who founded NaNoWriMo (and an excellent fellow). It had loads of useful advice and wasn’t afraid to leave things to the reader’s best judgement. It was possible to tailor the NaNoWriMo experience to the audience.

Then Chris left and not much later, the guide was rewritten by no doubt well-meaning people, the upshot of which was that much of the nuance was lost. It now reflected a much more North American-centric and specific way of thinking about NaNoWriMo. One in which meant writing means coffee shops, timed writing sprints and word wars. And enforced sobriety. I got the impression that those regions who organised meet ups in pubs were mostly tolerated through some sort of grandfathering-in.

Anyway, this weekend I happened to watch The Muppets. It struck a chord with me. A world that had moved away from the titular characters felt somehow familiar. NaNoWriMo has moved away from me. I don’t want to sit in a coffee shop with numerous others. I want to sit wherever takes my fancy with the beverage of my choice. I don’t want to write as fast as humanly possible, competing to see who can throw out the biggest word count in the shortest amount of time. I want to spend my allotted time crafting if not a good sentence then at least a decent enough one to get me to an initial draft. There might be a target per day but I don’t want to care how long it takes for me to get there.

I want to agonise over my choice of words, struggle to cross the finish line and then spend about fifteen times longer agonising over whether I’ve put things together correctly as I edit. I don’t want achievement badges. I want a sense of genuine achievement in having written something I can take pride in. The world may need your novel but what it doesn’t need is your fifty thousand hastily scrawled words that were written because you couldn’t think of anything better to do.

One day the NaNo community may shift back. And on that November 1st, I’ll be opening up scrivener to a new blank document. Until then, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, good luck. It isn’t for me right now. I’m not trying to detract from anything anyone else might get from it as it is now. I hope you get as much out of it as I did back in the day.


It’s coming on Christmas 
They’re cutting down trees 
They’re putting up reindeer 
And singing songs of joy and peace 
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on 

But it don’t snow here 
It stays pretty green 
I’m going to make a lot of money 
Then I’m going to quit this crazy scene 
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on 

It’s Christmas. And it’s been as the last few Christmases have been… happy, but tinged with melancholy. Yesterday I found myself missing the cold winters up north, not just for the weather but what they meant, all of us together for a couple of days in my parents’ house. New traditions replace the old (and some endure, like the reading of A Visit from St. Nicholas before bed on the night of the 24th). Time moves onward, and I miss the days that can no longer be recreated.

It’s been a good day, but one with memories I don’t want to lose but which are now tinged with sadness. To anyone who reads this: May your future Chirstmasses be filled with joy, and may your memories of past ones be happy!

Until I pass this way again…

Some Fantastic

One day I will build a fountain, drink and never grow old.
Then I’ll market an elixir that will eliminate the common cold
Find your sickness on my list, pay up front and make a list.

There’s a lot I will never do,
Some fantastic – I know it’s true
But none so much as my want to be with you.

Sometimes things just can’t be said out loud, or put into words. So I won’t. This post is to symbolise all the things I can’t put into words, all the memories that I have of the last 22 years.

There’s nothing more to say.

Funeral wreath lain on top of ashes scattered on the beach

Apple Trees

We were on this car trip
And I was looking at these rows and rows of trees
All along the highway
I don’t know what kind of trees –
Apples or something.

There were just like thousands and thousands of rows
Of a thousand trees each.
And I picked one tree that I could see
About eight trees back
In this one row in the mddle.

Just one in a billion.
That’s how I felt.