Sweet Scorched Earth

I love the way your hair falls on your eyes
And the way the sun hits them as it dies.
There’s poison in the water and the sky;
We’ll hold onto each other if we fry…

It’s you and me forever, together,
For all that it’s worth.
As long as we last on this sweet, scorched Earth

Tuesday

Up at a reasonable hour, breakfasted with the kids before getting stuck into the onslaught of meetings: team stand up, architecture meeting, leadership stand up. A break for lunch before heading into a monthly forum meeting. Finally got time to do some real work come 2pm, before yet another meeting about an architectural change at 3:30. The weather had turned; it was raining most of the day. That had one major impact that I wasn’t expecting – noise. Usually the kids have been letting off steam in the garden, but with the wet they were stuck inside. There were only a couple of times I genuinely couldn’t concentrate on my meeting due to the bickering happening in the rest of the house.

The weather seems to have sent the ant invasion back into hibernation just as the bait stations arrived. I’ve put one down but it seems like we’ll have to wait for warmer weather to return to find out if they’re really gone. This time I remembered to defrost the chicken, so we managed to get to the enchiladas that I’d planned for Monday. The kids still find hem too spicy. I’ll just have to keep increasing their tolerance. I’m not after Pig of Doom levels of tolerance, but being able to add a bit more spice to curries and things wouldn’t go amiss. Kids in bed, collapsed into my chair for the regular Tuesday FaceTime session, which finished up at nearly midnight.

Wednesday

Woke about 6am with a headache. Got up about 7, having somehow remembered I’d agreed to attend an 8am meeting instead of having a family breakfast. From there, and all-hands meeting, stand ups again, before a break for toasted sandwiches for lunch, which I completely failed to help make after saying I would. Oops.

Got some real work done in the afternoon for a change, fixing a problem that would have prevented a new environment from coming online. Finished up about 5:30 then went straight into preparing dinner; the kids have been on Zoom meetings for half the afternoon so J hadn’t had time to prepare anything; I threw pork chops and various vegetables into the oven, which were greeted with less than enthusiasm. Got them into bed late, well after 8pm, at which point I got an invitation to join an impromptu Zoom drinks with some friends and ex-colleagues. I accompanied the call with the alcohol-free hibiscus saison I got from Big Drop. There was something that didn’t taste quite right to me; reading the back of the can later, it’s the presence of Sorachi Ace hops, which always taste like burnt rubber to me.

Dropped from the one Zoom call to catch up with a long-time friend; she had some fantastic news that I’m delighted to learn. We chatted about various bits and pieces for an hour, then called it a night. I’m looking forward to seeing her again in person at the end of all this.


Quest For The Golden Frog

Crash-landed near Tanzania
Surrounded by savages in rabbit ears.
Before you could say ‘My good man, how queer,’
I held aloft my magic spear!
‘In the name of the empire, bring me the frog’!
Amazingly, they made me their king or their god;
I didn’t think this was odd until we got to the volcano…

Saturday

Woke to a disappointingly gloomy day; having hoped for sunshine the weather was overcast and a little chilly. Eventually finished breakfast and getting the kids dressed by about 9:30, then went out on my bike for an hour or so around 10. By the time I got back, an hour later and 16 miles down, the sun was shining gloriously. J was about to start her online Zumba class, and we had time to briefly discuss the kids’ poor behaviour while I’d been out. Confronted them both, incredibly calmly, about the arguing and fighting that had been going on. Didn’t raise my voice at all, just talked to them (and confiscated their tablets). There were a lot of tears from both, but I think we reached an understanding about appropriate ways of behaving.

Lit the BBQ in the afternoon. The pork belly I cooked on it turned out amazingly, I’ll be doing that again. Ate outside in the sunshine; it’s not yet got to the time of year when our sun-trap garden is too hot to use of a late afternoon. Managed to get the kids into bed reasonably early, and had time for a film before we turned in for the first time in ages: Ant-Man and The Wasp. Fun, but I think I liked the first movie better.

Sunday

Another lazy start, and after breakfast this time it was my turn to play referee while J went out for a run. As I came downstairs to the kitchen, however, I found unwanted visitors invading the bins. Obviously emboldened by our choice of film last night, a colony of ants have discovered our food waste. Moved the bin outside and gave the worktop where they’d been gathering a thorough clean. I’ve ordered some ant killer online; hopefully it’ll arrive before they get to be too much of a problem.

We fired up the Nintendo and had a good 40 minutes of the four of us all playing Just Dance together. Certainly felt like a (light) workout but because I forgot to put my FitBit back on after charging it, I’ve no idea how much energy I burned. Lunch was a picnic in the garden again, which was lovely – the weather was definitely on our side.

Roasted a pork shoulder for dinner, with an apple juice-based brine injection. Something to do again, the meat was wonderfully moist and flavourful. The crackling picked up the flavour too, though didn’t crisp up quite as much as I’d have liked. Talked with mum outside in the garden while eating ice creams in the sun, then put the kids to bed. Finished off with the season finale of Better Call Saul. Wow. I could see where Lalo’s story was going, but Kim’s… that’s blown me away. Guess I’ll have to wait a couple of years for the conclusion. Boo.

Monday

Woken shortly after 6 by a little girl who wanted to go downstairs and watch cartoons; I managed to get her to stay in bed for another hour before bowing to the inevitable. Weather was once again gloomy and there might even have been the odd spot of rain. While not exactly meeting-light, things weren’t too full on for a change, though there was one person who sent out an invitation without an agenda or context at short notice and didn’t want to take “no” for an answer when I declined to join their meeting instead of having lunch. Pressing “Decline” on that one felt oddly empowering.

The meeting after lunch was less helpful. “Here’s something we need that we discussed with, er, the ginger guy on your team. Can you sort it?” Took almost the entire meeting to understand what they’d agreed and with who, and the answer that they could do it themselves and call on us for help was at least acceptable.

I’d intended on enchiladas for dinner but in a fit of complete disorganisedness, the chicken was still in the freezer at 5:30 when I finished work. Instead: emergency lamb curry! After food, the silliness quotient was starting to increase rapidly, so packed the kids off to bed. Just as we were settling in front of the TV, though, we were disturbed by a very much awake boy who was somewhat unsettled. We talked about some fun things we could do (he’s going to make a book about his bears in the vein of Teddy Edward Goes To Timbuctoo, which I’ve had for about as long as I’ve had a bear of the same name), and maybe learn how to knit a scarf for one of them too. Distraction therapy works wonders.


Hand In My Pocket

I’m high but I’m grounded.
I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed.
I’m lost but I’m hopeful, baby.
What it all comes down to
Is that everything’s gonna be fine, fine, fine…

Thursday

Started work at the usual hour after breakfast. The kids are waking up later and later. By the time all of this is over, they might as well be teenagers given their sleep pattern. Meetings were attended, decisions were decided. I’m increasingly glad of the hour’s calendar block around lunchtime, getting a little time away from the desk to see the sunlight and talk to the kids. This time we even managed to put in a little light gardening, moving the runner bean that’s been on the windowsill into a much larger pot outside, topping up the compost on some of the potatoes, and thinning out the carrots, which are going mad.

Yesterday I promised Sleeper Jr. another bike ride, so after dinner we headed out on a three-and-a-half mile ride, a bit faster this time. On the big downhill stretch he got up to a whole 11mph, much to the annoyance of the few car drivers that were around; not that I cared, I positioned myself to prevent stupid overtaking and gave a wave of thanks when the drivers did overtake in a safe manner. The less said about the idiots who went the wrong side of the traffic islands at pinch points, the better. Got home and got him ready for bed in time for the 8pm weekly applause session, then got a decent amount of grown-up time for a change.

On returning from our ride, I noticed from my phone that D had been trying very hard to get hold of me; he’d just come out of a meeting where he felt like he’d been given impossible choices. I lifted his spirits somewhat by giving him an extra option which had the benefit of being easy to implement and fulfil all the requirements he’s trying to juggle.

Friday

Slept awfully. Adding to the lockdown stresses we’ve had a concern about the house that could potentially cost thousands to get put right. Today we had a structural engineer coming to visit to prepare a report. I sent the kids out for a walk while he was here, and I discussed his findings with him before preparing lunch. It’s been a great weight off my mind to be told exactly why we’ve had cracking appear around an external door frame; it turns out that there’s nothing we need to be concerned about other than a little light redecoration. I’ve never been more delighted to pay someone a fair sum of money for what will be very little direct benefit.

Made lunch for J and the kids while they walked home and spent some time enjoying the sunshine before heading back inside for a bunch more meetings, including a second-stage interview which went very well; the only snag is that the candidate is probably asking for a little too much salary-wise.

The kids dragged me into doing PE with Joe with them while I was supposed to be making paella. Fun for the doing-something-togetherness, but maybe not so much for the actual exercise; I prefer to be out of doors with the wind in my helmet. Maybe tomorrow I’ll manage that. In any case dinner wasn’t massively late, and I’m sure it helped to tire them both out.

Feeling a lot better today mentally. Sleeper Jr. has some emotional literacy work from school which I think is helping him process things. Spent the evening kicking back with various old and retro video games, finishing off 198X, with the first of my non-alcoholic beers from Big Drop. Looking forward to chilling out a bit tomorrow.


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!”

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.

Wednesday

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.


There’s A Melody II

There’s a melody somewhere inside of me,
I can hear it but can’t get it out of me,
In my head it soaring but when it comes out it is all the same note


Is it in discipline?
Like taking your medicine?

You’ve gotta push through the unpleasantness

Give it some time, just let it go
Just close your eyes and soon you will know
.

Saturday

Saturday again. If it weren’t for the grocery delivery, I swear I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference from one day to the next. This one was missing just one item: the joint I’d planned to cook for Sunday dinner, and use the leftovers for lunches during the week. No big deal, no need to go out and buy anything else, just an annoyance, and not a huge one in the grand scheme of things, and a re-plan of the week’s meals. The big deal that I’d been waiting for was present though: plain flour. Enough that I could take my little sourdough starter and actually make something. But that was for tomorrow, today I just gave it a good feed.

Finally got to play Just Dance 2020 with the kids in the afternoon. Was fun, but if I had a gripe it’d be that you can’t use a phone as a controller for one player while others have Joy-Cons at the same time, so someone always had to sit out. Hopefully my order of a second set of Joy-Cons will arrive soon. Threw a fish pie together while also trying to throw shapes in the living room; I succeeded in at least one of those.

After getting the kids in bed, realised that we’re running desperately low on TV; there’s only two things we’re following right now that are still on, Westworld and Better Call Saul. No idea what we’ll find to entertain us after that.

Sunday

Woken at 7am with the usual “Can I go downstairs and watch TV?” from the youngest. Within 10 minutes she was back upstairs, getting dressed, and then wanted a cuddle in bed. Unable to put up with Ms. Wriggly for very long, bit the bullet and got up. Took the bike out for a spin after breakfast, same route as the previous time. Somehow FitBit measured it as a quarter mile shorter. I was, however, five minutes faster over the whole course so I’ll call that a win.

While J went out for her run, I juggled both kids, one doing jigsaw puzzles and the other building a cardboard marble run from a kit, as well as starting the sourdough loaf. Mowed the lawn in the afternoon, and weed sprayed all the dandelions that have sprung up over the past week. One of these years I’ll get a decent lawn; sadly, it’s unlikely to be this one.

I noticed that we have the first beginnings of carrot seedlings springing up; I suggested the kids go have a look see if they were growing yet and A ran out to have a look. She proudly came back in the house and announced to me, “I found some weeds, Daddy!”, handing me a few tiny leaves. I explained she’d actually pulled up the carrots and she burst into tears. No real harm done, there’s still plenty in the planter outside.

Almost ruined the sourdough after forgetting it was in the oven, but remembered just in time and pulled it out to rest, before slicing a hunk of it off and devouring it midway through dinner. Can’t remember when I last had properly fresh sourdough; probably it was in San Francisco back in ’07. The taste took me back there. One day we’ll take the kids, I hope.

After talking with Mum and my brother in a three-way video call, the kids ended up in bed super late. Collapsed on the sofa watching Dark Matter, which is new to us; being unfamiliar with the source material I’m curious to see how it goes.


I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man

It was only last June when her old man ran away.
She couldn’t stop crying cause she knew he was gone to stay.
It was 10:35 on a lonely Friday night.
She was standin’ by the bar,
She was lookin’ alright.
I asked if she wanted to dance;
She said all she wanted was a good man,
And wanted to know if I thought I was qualified.

Wednesday

Slightly less insane day, meeting-wise. First stand up with the newly reformed team took way too long, mostly concentrating on one person who seemed desperate to tell me everything that had happened to his project in the months since he last worked for me. Had a good catch up with the other leads discussing how we’re going to divide up the work that the newly-dissolved team have left behind.

Just one interview today, with the outsourcing company, and unlike the last couple we’ve been sent, this one, while not knowing everything, was competent and obviously had a good understanding of the underlying concepts. Managed to get at least some non-meeting work done for a change, which was refreshing.

After dinner: a bike ride. This one was half an hour at barely above walking pace, mind, because I took Sleeper Jr. along. He had fun, I kept reminding him not to go down the very middle of the road, so we covered a grand total of two miles at a top speed of 8 mph. Was plenty enjoyable nevertheless.

Thursday

A head-exploding-kind-of-day. Everything started well enough, up until the point that we had a meeting about a project delivery for Monday and I was made to look a complete idiot when someone who’d been reassuring me everything was on track stepped up to admit that it in fact wasn’t. Cue crisis meeting, and I went away and created a godawful monster of a Cloud Formation template to create a work around. The workday was capped with a meeting in which nobody (except my boss) agreed with a plan I’d spent the morning drawing up for an accelerated timescale for a project.

This evening I’d originally planned to be out with friends, first trying my hand at axe throwing and then out for dinner. Instead we had to put up with a virtual meet up. Fun, but not quite the same as a nice juicy steak. Crawled into bed late.

Friday

Woke early despite the late finish the day before, then started the workday as I didn’t mean for it to go on: Early, with a meeting! Another one of those days where I didn’t get to spend much time actually doing stuff; meetings about projects, about architecture, about the afternoon’s meetings… Friday’s supposed to be a meeting light day, but it sure as hell didn’t feel like it. The afternoon was mostly taken up by two interviews; the candidates couldn’t have been more different. The first, despite being told that it was OK to say theydn’t know something, waffled and made things up, going on for minutes at a time without saying anything. The second one gave clear, concise answers and wasn’t afraid to admit when we asked a question they didn’t have an answer for. Making a decision on who got invited to the next stage wasn’t exactly taxing.

Today’s been a wet, rainy day, the kind that’s left the kids fractious as they’ve been stuck inside. Hopefully the weather will dry up soon and they can blow off a bit more energy in the garden. Cooked dinner, failed to find the requested bedtime story (Pinocchio) so we fell back to yet another Disney storybook, this time 101 Dalmatians. Found a little time to catch up with some ex-colleagues unexpectedly, which was nice. Finished up the day attempting to get started with X3: Terran Conflict. Think I might stick to the original, even if the graphics are prettier.


Private Investigations

I go checking out the reports,
Digging up the dirt.
You get to meet all sorts
In this line of work.
Treachery and treason,
There’s always an excuse for it,
And when I find the reason,
I still can’t get used to it.

Sunday

Woken reasonably early by a little girl who wanted to go downstairs to see if the Easter Bunny had been. We kept her upstairs for a while until her brother was awake, and then despite my protestations that they had enough chocolate and sweets anyway, they had fun looking for eggs around the house and finding most, but not all, of them.

Sleeper Jr. asked “Dad, will you cut my hair?”, and armed with clippers and scissors I managed to make not too much of a hash of it. It’s definitely a don’t-give-up-your-day-job scenario though. Another day of glorious weather. Slightly too glorious, really – by the time I had enough time to go out to exercise, it was really rather warm, so I postponed it until another day. At some point in the morning a broom handle appeared over the fence, balanced from it a bucket containing chocolate for the kids and a card for us, wishing us a Happy Easter. Exchange of gifts, social-distancing style! I made sure that everyone said thank you the next time we saw them out in the garden.

Easter Sunday dinner was roast beef, which turned out really well despite cooking it conventionally. Usually with beef especially I go all pretentious and cook it sous-vide. Something must be using up all our energy, because I could have sworn I’d cooked too much and it all got eaten. Dessert was creme egg ice creams, because if you can’t have ridiculous food on Easter Day, when can you?

Kids in bed, we watched the new Red Dwarf. I’ve been watching the show since I was a young teen, and I’ve loved some of it and found much of the later stuff to be dross. Found myself most unimpressed with an early scene which I thought to be rather unfunny and at the expense of certain minorities. Fortunately the rest was at least acceptable. Thirty years on that’s all anyone can expect, I guess.

Monday

Final day off work; having postponed my bike ride the day before, I was rather disgruntled to discover that the temperature had dropped by about ten degrees and there was a pretty strong, gusty wind. Headed out on the same route as on Friday, extending it a little further, and despite the hard work in one direction, felt pretty good at the end of it.

Lunch: Hot dogs. I hadn’t realised quite how enormous the sausages I’d ordered were. The label on the jar said “No roll big enough” and it wasn’t wrong. Spent the afternoon trying, and mostly succeeding, at keeping the kids away from screens, probably helped by the fact that the sun had come out and the wind died down. Had a few choice words for the kids, who keep kicking their football over the fence into next door’s garden. Even though they have been perfectly reasonable about sending it back over, I don’t want to be paying for new greenhouse windows or pot plants.

Cooked a stir fry for dinner that almost ended up without meat; some deep-seated carnivorous instinct persuaded me to at least throw a thinly sliced chicken breast in there. Finished off with an apple crumble made by J; delicious. In the evening I made her cut my hair. Didn’t go too terribly.

Tuesday

Urgh. Back at work, to a full day of meetings, including three interviews and a catch up with D. And none of the candidates were any good. Took a full hour for lunch, or close to it, to sit, eat sandwiches, and moan at the kids for playing with their food before the interviews. Two were with a nearshore outsourcing company, and there was a really weird vibe to them; they seemed to think joining our team was a done deal. Nope. The other was a final interview with a candidate who’d sent us code that wouldn’t even compile.

Apart from work, the day was fairly chilled out. Got the kids playing Just Dance 2020 on the Switch, which seems to be keeping them both reasonably occupied and happy, although I’m beginning to regret the purchase thanks to the constant re-playing of Baby Shark. The potatoes are starting to come up in the garden; added more compost over them.

Also received an email from the place we had a holiday booked for in May, Coombe Mill, a fantastic family-owned farm who have a number of holiday cabins on site. Due to the ongoing situation they’re gradually letting people re-book for later in the year or next instead of losing their holiday; they’re a small business and not in a position to just magically refund everyone’s money. I really feel for them; these are the sorts of businesses that are really hurting at the moment. I had taken out cancellation insurance just in case, at a cost of less than 0.5% of the booking. Seems like some people weren’t so sensible, and are now crying blue murder on social media as they’ve been asked to re-book or claim on their (apparently nonexistent) insurance. I don’t envy the position they must be in, but to me it looks like they’re doing a fantastic job of balancing their fiscal needs with their customer relations. Because they don’t expect lockdown to be lifted by the start of our trip, it’s our turn to choose a new date; we’ll hopefully be going away in August instead.

Finished the day with a low-key FaceTime meet up; got to bed at a sensible hour. Tomorrow I might actually get some work done.


Backwoods

Well, I had this heart – It was made out of glass.
I gave it to you, and you said “This won’t last!”
Then you threw it out to the dogs in the street,
They crushed it under their dirty hind feet,
Picked up the pieces and threw them all out in the trash.

This time I’m lookin’ for:
Something i didn’t have before.
Somebody who will take up my time.
Somebody who won’t mess with my mind.

Bye, bye, leave me alone.
Don’t bother calling, I’ll never be home.

Friday

Let’s call this “first of the lockdown bank holidays”. Lazed around in bed until gone 8, when J reminded me it was forecast to be rather warm today and if I wanted to get some exercise in, it was probably sensible to do it early. Dragged the kids to the breakfast table and we finished off a bunch of the breakfast cereal. Tomorrow it’ll be weetabix or nothing. Headed out on the bike and got in a 20km ride, which was mostly uneventful apart from one close pass by an idiot in a convertible who was obviously not on his way to buy groceries, and a family who looked to be driving to a party with a car full of balloons. Sigh.

Played football with the kids in the garden before it got too warm, followed by a lunch of hot cross buns. Spent most of the afternoon sorting garden furniture, and remembering the problem with a west-facing garden is the lack of shade, especially in the warmer months. Managed to cook dinner without recourse to the oven then got the kids to bed with surprisingly little fuss.

Evening plans were another virtual pub meet up, this time attempting to use CAMRA’s own virtual pub, The Red (on)Lion. I’ve never drank in a pub called the Red Lion and liked it, and this one was no exception. The picture was blocky, it seemed not to work with half the attendees’ cameras or microphones and there was horrible noise on the audio half the time. Over the years, I’ve moved away from a lot of CAMRA’s aims, in no small part due to their attitude that cask beer is unbeatable, and their association with Wetherspoon pubs (and hence Tim Martin). Granted, last year’s GBBF had a lot of keg beer, but it’s a bit too little too late. We eventually gave up and moved to Zoom, where much silliness ensued, including daleks, porgs, assorted hats and on my part, a lei left over from a Hawaiian work party a few years back.

Saturday

Somehow I’m on the list of “Ocado’s most loyal customers” so I get priority access over Joe Public (but behind the vulnerable customer list). Didn’t seem to help so much this morning. The delivery was supposed to be missing a couple of things according to their email: fresh sweetcorn and ice cream for the kids, neither of which are massively big deals. What I actually got delivered was missing pretty much everything that’s in short supply – including bananas, flour, toilet roll and hand wash refills. Most of which we can manage without for the next week, but only just. I suspect the driver had left a bag or two in the van as by the time I’d worked out what was missing it was already listed as “refunded” on their website, most perplexingly including our regular food bank donation. Grumbled about this on Twitter and they gave me a voucher to say sorry, which I’ll be spending on a bigger donation next time.

Spent the morning in the garden, mowing and ineffectually attempting to scarify the lawn. Not that I have any lawn seed if I do end up with massive bare patches anyway. The afternoon was mostly persuading the kids to go for a walk; there’s a road not far from here where every single house near enough is doing the “bear hunt” thing; it killed an hour and despite the whining, it did them good to get out for a bit. Didn’t see many folk out, and of those we did, everyone was being sensible about distance. On our return, fired up the BBQ for the first time this year, for burgers, wings and grilled peppers. We ate outside, the heat of the day fading. Glorious weather, hopefully it will stay like this for a while.


Feelgood Summer

I stopped looking both ways when I crossed the street;
I stopped looking both ways when I crossed the street.
I’d rather take things as they come;
I’d rather wait until the summer’s over!

I can’t remember when I felt this good
.

Wednesday

Freedom from work! Deliberately left the work mobile phone on my bedside table and spent the morning downstairs with the kids, getting involved in various activities including a sing-and-play-along on Zoom. It’s so much nicer to be able to be 100% present for them without the mental itch that I should be doing something else.

After lunch, planted out some carrots in a large planter to go with the potatoes. Probably used way more seeds than we should have, but never mind – we can always thin them out later. While cleaning up, received a pleasant surprise: a friend who was recently made redundant, and whose CV I passed on to my boss, has been offered a job working alongside me. Fantastic news; D wants him to start yesterday. All that’s left to do now is hope he accepts the offer.

I’ve no idea where most of the day went, other than spent with the kids, and I find that delightful. Got them to bed reasonably early and, while J caught up with friends over her own Zoom call, kegged the Kölsch I brewed a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully the bread-making antics did nothing bad to it; it’ll be ready to drink in a little while after conditioning. Beer chores done, I chilled out playing a golden oldie video game, X: Beyond The Frontier. The early stages make for exactly what I’m looking for here, slow gaming with minimal to zero adrenaline. I guess flying in real time in the empty gulf between space stations is the gaming equivalent of slow TV.

Thursday

Up a little earlier than usual; J had an important work meeting at 8am, and given her desk is currently in our bedroom, staying in bed any longer wasn’t really an option. Both kids were a delight at the breakfast table, and once they were dressed we resumed the previous day’s mucking about in the garden, until I was reminded that Sleeper Jr. had an online drama class. The drama group they both go to cut their term short suddenly, there wasn’t any end of term show or chance to say goodbye; now they’ve moved online. He really enjoyed the half hour they spent on Zoom performing their usual sorts of stage exercises. Even better, after lunch he got to have WhatsApp video calls with two of his classmates, where he ran round the house and garden, showing off the place and generally talking about all sorts of things. At one point he was in the garden waving to the boy who lives a few doors down while they talked. One of the calls went on for over an hour. There was a bit of a come down later when he remembered how much he misses playing with then in person, but I think he’s still better off for it.

Mid-afternoon brought A’s drama class; they’d been practicing for a performance of Matilda; today was a final rehearsal before they do their ‘live’ performance next week. She seemed to enjoy it but wanted me very close by; she seemed a bit needy; she seems to get in better with these things when we’re not around, obviously impossible here. I was trying to make a ragù for dinner at the same time. It turned out deliciously.

Kids in bed, collapsed on the sofa to watch the latest Better Call Saul, the majority of which depicted two people trapped alone in the desert. At least things aren’t that bad here.


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.

Monday

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.

Tuesday

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.