Another week down. Here’s my notes from the week that was.

I started the week by being trolled by my bank:

Screw you, Monzo

My shame was lifted slightly by the arrival of seventeen new fish in our fish tank. We’ve never had baby fish before, so it was quite exciting (and a bit gross). They are basically eyeballs with tails at this point and have to be segregated from the rest of the tank so that they aren’t eaten by the bigger fish.


Next week will mark the half-way point of Winter. Hurrah!

This week I learned that there is a such a thing as a Parliamentary Train, which is not a private train for MPs but a train service that runs purely to keep a line legally open. Basically, back in the 1960s, vast swathes of the railway were torn up as a result of the Beeching Report. Public opposition to the closures grew to such an extent that the government passed new legislation to make it harder for lines to close – now it’s so difficult, and costly, that it’s easier, and cheaper to keep a line open by running the minimum service on it. Thanks to Ian for his wonderful blog post on them.

Books finished:

  • Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker. This one gave me lots to think about. I suspect my family are tired of my facts about sleep. Did you know that birds can sleep half a brain at a time?
  • Whatever, by Michel Houllebecq

Writing that I enjoyed:


  • Picard: I’ve not enjoyed any of the StarTrek reboots (with an exception given to Voyager) so I didn’t have high hopes, but was pleasantly susprised. Strange watching something episode by episode after binge watching stuff though.


Another week down. Here’s my notes from the week that was.

  • Court duty this week. I’ve never particularly enjoyed this part of my job, mainly because I have a face that seems to cause county court judges to become spontaneously apoplectic. My case this week was in Skipton, a two-hour drive away. On arrival I met my nemesis, a specific duty solicitor that has a name that sounds like a Bond villain, an unnerving ability to appear wherever I am, and a 100% success rate at destroying my possession cases – which is exactly what he proceeded to do before I drove the two hours back.
  • The new Apple AirPods are astonishing and probably the best single-purpose gadget I’ve ever bought.
  • Renewed my library card.
  • Started testing Brave as my primary browser. I like it so far, and their approach to internet advertising is interesting.
  • The youngest went on a Brownie sleepover for the first time; cue much excitement from her, and us.
  • Tried two new recipes this week: Sticky Sesame Chicken & Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta. 10/10. Would cook again.


Michael Palin in North Korea
North Korea is a fascinating country and one that I’d really like to visit, if not for being certain that I would unwittingly end up in a work camp.

As an aside, it was a complete pain to actually watch this. It was initially broadcast on Channel 5, but while it has a section on their website there is no way to watch it. A bit of googling suggested it might be on Sky now? Maybe Netflix? This is why people pirate things.

There are not enough superlatives to describe how good this film was. There are big things ahead for George MacKay.


Finished: Around the World in 80 Days, by Michael Palin


I thought about writing a review of the decade past and my hopes for the one to come, but it could be easily distilled down to ‘a lot happened’ and ‘a lot will happen’- the latter being as much out of my control as the former was.

I’ve never been one for carefully laid out plans. There’s only a few things known for sure about this year: our eldest will head off to university in September, we’ve got to make some decisions about where we want to live, and I should decide what I want to do with the rest of my life. Small stuff really, innit?

We went for a bimble around York on Sunday, a favourite destination of ours when we have no other ideas.


Finished: Serotonin, by Michel Houellebecq
Started: Cage of Souls, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

From the net:

Love, leaving & loneliness – A thoughtful peace on the side-effects of the drive towards social mobility.

Woven City – Toyota is building the city of the future in Japan.

How much land does a man need? – A short story by Leo Tolstoy. The answer is: not as much as you think, or at least not as much as you want.

2019/17: Perfect Circle

Greetings from the Humber Estuary.

My car went in for the mandatory yearly safety check this week and needed no work, which was lucky as I couldn’t have paid for any work unless garages now accept tokens of gratitude as payment. This car is the most boring car I have ever owned, but in three years it’s only cost me four tyres and a two wiper blades. Can’t argue with the economy of it.

Currently Reading:

  • The Heart Goes Last, By Margaret Atwood. This distopian fiction is a welcome relief from the dystopia outside my front door, and the one in my head.

From the net:

The internet blessed me with the following great content this week:

  • Computer Files Are Going Extinct – OneZero [Medium]. Modern tools, especially online ones, are making the filesystem less relevent – but at what cost? Long live the filesystem, and my complex but logical file structure.
  • Why these social networks failed so badly [Gizmodo]. A fairly long list of the social networks that have come and gone. How long until we see Facebook on this list – a decade? More?
  • Be amazed as Alexander Overwijk draws a perfect freehand circle:

Look after yourselves, anonymous readers, and be kind to each other.

2019/16: I wish I could have the time back

  • On Tuesday, Costa Coffee machines around the country were dispensing for free because in recognition of International Coffee Day. Whatever that is. Anyway, I didn’t find out until Wednesday.
  • Confession time: I can’t tell the difference between a robot made Costa coffee and a real one.
  • We got new mobile phones at work. They’re quite fancy. We have to ask permission from the gods above to install anything – which I imagine, because I have not yet tried, is by way of a gloriously convoluted process that only makes sense to IT people. I understand why they do this but they haven’t even given me a calculator.
  • An oddity of this new device is that I can’t see missed calls unless I unlock it. It’s a GDPR compliance thing, apparently.

Finished Reading:

The Wanderers, by Chuck Wendig: This huge book took me nearly a month to read. It was so, so long. You know when you read a big book and the time flies past because your really engrossed and invested in the story? This wasn’t like that at all. I wish I could have the time back.


Here’s your regular reminder that not everything is as it first appears:

2019/15: Slow puncture

While last week was a week of winning, this week has been the opposite. There is a screw neatly embedded in the offside front tyre of my car, and our house is plagued by a random electrical problem.

Here is a rough overview of me troubleshooting our electrical issue:

  1. Examine the consumer unit. Identity that RCD and lounge sockets have tripped. Cool. Safety features are working as designed. Reminisce about changing fuse wire in old style fuse carriers.
  2. Turn off all breakers and reset the RCD. Switch on breakers one by one until problem circuit is identified.
  3. Swear.
  4. Unplug all appliances on the problematic circuit.
  5. Flip the breaker again and watch in despair as the RCD trips despite no appliances being plugged in.
  6. Swear loudly and scratch my head.
  7. Open every socket and look for loose wires or damp.
  8. Ring father-in-law for advice.
  9. Show father-in-law all of the troubleshooting activities you’ve done before escorting him to the consumer unit.
  10. Flip breaker and watch, despondently, as the power stays on.

I went through this routine three times over two days, but thankfully the power has stayed on since. We’ve no idea what caused it and no idea how to solve it. We wait in suspense.

It’s cold, and wet, and officially autumn.


It’s Sunday, so time for another report of my weekly activities.

  • I built a set of steps for our new decking. Technically it was just one step, but you have to take two steps to get from one level to another and saying ‘I built a step’ doesn’t sound very impressive. It took far longer than I expected – but it works. You can stand on it and everything.
  • I spent more time than was probably reasonable figuring out how to slice an audiobook into small parts and serve it up as a podcast so that I can subscribe to it so with Overcast and play it on my watch.
  • An enjoyable lunch with friends old and new.
  • Missed the bramble harvest, again, but overall this was a week of winning.