Daily

#50

I can't even imagine what it must feel like to own a home. Monthly payments that go into an appreciating asset and not just *flying money emoji*, and an asset that gives you access to better financial products to continue to see growth.

I've reached a point where the hardship required to save enough to buy something, while managing the expense of living alone, would make life so much more grey and uneventful that I'm not convinced I want it. I have only recently started to earn enough where saving is possible, but the deposit requirements are still insurmountable.

This isn't just grim pessimism either. I have been working on a 5 year plan this week, something I have never done before, and even the most optimistic outcomes would have me mortgage ready at an age that would push the monthly repayments a long way north of my current and historical rent, even adjusted for inflation.

#49

The YouTube algorithm seems to really lean into demographics more heavily than my viewing history. Being a straight, white, male millennial seems to push a lot of Joe Rogan and Joran Peterson my way, despite never looking for that kind of content with any intentionality.

I'm so worried that YouTube are going to figure out that I work in tech, I watch any code tutorials or courses with a different account. Doing it on main is just going to bring out Elon Musk, the dumbest 'smart' person I can name.

#48

I'm not really that into classical music, despite running that section in an HMV for a while some 17 years ago (I liked running Dance & Urban more; back then, we could order pretty much whatever we wanted, so the people of Essex had a huge range of Anticon and Big Dada to choose from) but when I find something I like, I really like it.

The Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra rendition of Tchaikovsky's 6th Symphony never fails to put a lump in my throat, especially when a single tear drops from the conductor's eye after the finale. You'd have to be made of stone to not feel something.

Then there is Rachmaninov's The Isle of the Dead, probably the most metal piece of music of all time. No metal band could make something this dark, though Godspeed You! Black Emperor get close with The Dead Flag Blues.

#47

Fighting that post travel come down by planning my next trip. How can I get Anthony Bourdain's old job? I'm not very good at cooking, I am not particularly charismatic, and this collection of writing is proof that I do not have a best selling book in me.

#46

I'll respect and defend the right for rail workers to strike for better pay and conditions, but it's hard not be a little put out when industrial action falls on a day that I need to travel half the length of the country.

#45

If Don Draper were still alive (and not fictional), what would he make of the state of American TV advertising? Maybe we'd have seen the Mad Men title sequence realised.

#44

Snowflakes and games of Go are said to be totally unique. There has never been two the same.

When exploring a city without a specific destination, and especially when carrying a camera, I walk in an aimless way. I take turns that look interesting, I might go round in a circle, I might just turn walk back the way I came.

I wonder if I have ever walked a route through a city that no one else has ever walked before?

#43

New York guidebooks would probably advise you not to visit Harlem, but it's a truly great part of the city for food and culture. Just make a little effort to not be so obviously a tourist: Have a good idea of where you're going, try not to look lost, and move around with some purpose and you won't even be seen.

While you're up town, only take the subway south as far as 110th street and walk through North Woods in Central Park. The city will fades away.

#42

I thought that flying from New York to Washington DC would be a bit excessive. A shorter journey time but so much more faffing around at the airport, asking for a hand check for film so the scanners don't destroy it, plus the metro between airports and cities. Surely the train is less stress.

My European tendency to trust trains is not compatible with Amtrak. Don't let the comfortable seats and clean, spacious stations on the northeast regional line fool you—these trains limp along slowly, even by antique British mainline standards.

The return leg was effected by a broken down train ahead of us, making the 245 mile journey take close to six hours. About the same time as a flight from New York to California.

This level of service is poor by the standards of British public transit, but would make even the most hardened German or Swiss commuter commit crimes.

#41

I am extremely lucky in many ways. I need to recognise that more often, and not let the bad drag me down.

#40

Last night was probably the best live music experience of my life, and that's against some tough competition. In Birdland, eating one of the best steaks of my life with a glass of Malbec, a fantastic band featuring Steve Smith played the entirely of Giant Steps, flawlessly.

Every member of the band was extraordinary, but Steve Smith is as good a drummer as anyone has ever been at anything. After holding time perfectly for the duration of the set, he got the last solo and the biggest reaction from the audience. It felt improvised, but featured parts of a solo of his on YouTube that I've probably watched 50 times.

#39

Tips for people visiting New York for the first time:

  • If you take a taxi from JFK to Manhattan, don't let that hell-ride put you off. Cabs in New York are old, beaten up, rattly vehicles and the roads are broken and very busy. If you can fly into Newark there is a train directly to Penn station in midtown Manhattan.
  • Cars can turn right on a red light, so if you're crossing the street and someone turns towards you, you have the right of way. Keep going.
  • Don't stop or dawdle where people are trying to walk. In London people will get silently irritated, in New York you'll be asked to move pretty directly. Don't take it personally if this happens.
  • The subway does not work like the London Underground. Lines have express and local services so be sure you're taking the right one as you might either miss your stop or spend much longer getting there than you need to.
  • Subway stations don't have unique names. There are 5 named '125th street', so be sure you're going where you think you are.
  • Spend a little time learning the geography of the city. The signage in the subway often uses 'Uptown and Bronx' and 'Downtown and Brooklyn', so knowing how that relates to your journey helps you find the right train.
  • Tip in cash even when paying by card. Actually, this isn't a New York tip, this is just a tipping tip.
  • Take the Staten Island Ferry. It's free, and offers amazing views of downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn as well as the Statue of Liberty and Governers Island.
  • Take tramway to Roosevelt Island. It's not a tram, it's a cable car. It costs the same as one trip on the subway and offers really unique views of the city and the East River.
  • Go to Queens Museum to see the Panorama, but don't take the subway. Instead, take the Long Island Rail Road from Penn Station to Mets-Willets Point.
  • Do not eat in the chain restaurants around Times Square. I can appreciate the desire to visit that area of Manhattan, but it's the ultimate tourist trap. There area endless independent places to eat all over the city.
  • Go to the top of Rockefeller Centre instead of the Empire State Building. The view is better.

#38

By passing through railway stations and airports, I have had some kind of man-made structure over my head all the way from Nottingham to Newark. That's Newark in New Jersey, not Newark Nottinghamshire. And Jersey USA, not the channel island. On the way to New York. Not the Yorkshire.

I guess the early settlers liked their place names.

#37

When it's the last working day before some time off, with the added need to be done by a specific time slightly earlier than usual, you can bet there will be weird issues to work around and diagnose.

Two issues, neither of them actually caused by my own work, yet blocking my work from moving forwards took me right up to the end of the the day and beyond. Having a loose thread going into a break isn't what I'd hoped for.

#36

Driving anywhere and planning travel away from home makes me feel much more comfortable than being at home. In a world of money being no object I don't think I'd stop travelling. Closing the door to a hotel room is one of my favourite feelings.

This is a step beyond loving travel; it's a desire to run away from the life I have. And that's a feeling that simply isn't sustainable.

#35

A book cull has left the ratio of books owned vs books read in an embarrassing place. Nice paper ornaments packaged with knowledge that's absent from my brain.

The Penguin Great Ideas series is a collection of beautifully designed non-fiction books, inexpensive enough to accumulate over time when I spot one in a shop that I don't yet have drawn in by the clean cover designs.

On an average day I write more words than a I read. Another ratio to be ashamed of.

#34

There was a moment of the funeral today that will stay with me. A piper who could be heard by the funeral party in the chapel, walking away from the camera, and fading away until they could no longer be heard.

It was a beautiful, touching moment following a long display of precision and duty from a huge array of military personnel. The huge number of Sailors pulling a pristine gun carriage and 6 men with the vast weight of carrying the coffin, both literally and figuratively. Apparently the lead-lined English Oak casket weighed between 250 and 300kg unladen.

#33

When people debate whether Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones is the best TV show of all time, all I can think is that they need to watch more TV shows.

#32

As a non-drinker I like that there are some good 0% or 0.5% beer options. I still like a cold beer, even if I don't want the extra effects of the booze. On more than one occasion I've ordered an alcohol free drink and for whatever reason something was lost between my table and the bar, resulting in me being served a regular 5% beer.

At least when ordering a coke they're not going to to accidentally add some Jack Daniels.

#31

That early 2000s bubble of Nu Metal and prog revival in the shape of or KoRn and The Mars Volta is kind of back. They both have new albums this year but my reaction to them is the total opposite of what I'd expected (and maybe hoped).

I think KoRn is one of those bands that has some real ability and ideas but it all gets clouded by the more ridiculous aspects of their output. The scat vocals, collaborations with Limp Bizkit, and the jeans. It can feel a bit juvenile. I have to admit that going back over the earlier albums recently has been pleasantly surprising. Issues has some really well structured tracks, and Untouchables carries their style forwards into a pretty mature (for Nu Metal) sound. This years album sounds exactly as it should; it's their sound, unmistakably.

The Mars Volta absolutely blew me away with their debut in 2003, and I was so exceited for the follow up a couple of years later I took the day off work to pick it up and listen to it properly. This year's album isn't a Mars Volta album. It may have the core members of Cedric and Omar, but I really feel as if it sould have come out under a different name. It's not their sound. It's not a bad album, but I personally would have been more accepting and excited for a 'new' project from former Mars Volta members than this sharp departure from their past.

#30

Figma has been purchased by Adobe. Not a massive surprise as Adobe haven't really managed to get XD off the ground despite endorsements from twitter-famous industry people and special offers to businesses that use their products elsewhere. And they bought all of Macromedia to get hold of Flash, so...

Obviously the Twitter reaction is one of outrage, with people even claiming they'll find a new design tool. Faux outrage at something that is unlikely to impact them in any way, and another excuse to show just how correct they are. Always.

#29

If everyone who had a gym membership started to attend regularly they gyms would probably start to lose money. They must build in an expected level of non-attendance to properly set monthly prices and membership numbers, allowing space in classes and machine availability.

#28

Stress makes physical illness worse, which is stressful.

#27

I'm not really into sport. Cycling, F1, some New York Rangers games when I'm in New York, and Snooker when the world championships are on. Never football or rugby or any other American sports. I can happily ignore the World Cup and the Superb Owl.

Despite this, I think I have watched The Last Dance three times through and I rate Moneyball as one of my favourite films. The compressed dramatisation means I get all the romance and emotion of a team working towards a victory without ever needing to see the dozens of games that are mundane and uneventful.

Like social media, it's a highlight reel of the good things. That person posting apparently endless holidays and purchases is curating their image carefully and hiding the boring days, the bad days, and the aspects of their life that are hard and unenviable. You can't edit your own life experience, so making comparisons is only going to lead to bad feelings.

#26

Int. Doctor's surgery, day time. An Australian nurse looks into the ear of a patient and exclaims 'That's manky!', leaving no doubt of the diagnosis of an infection.

#25

Book review: Lessons in Stoicism, by John Sellars.

This brief book covers the basics of Stoicism, mostly from the the teachings of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. The general premise of this philosophy is that you cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you react. There are passages that link to God and Nature-as-God as being a higher power who gives you experiences, and that everything you have is only yours temporarily (just as life itself).

The book is a primer, and I think I'll learn more from the source material of Meditations and Letters from a Stoic. But, reading it on the train, it did help me to not be upset by the person beside me eating an onion sandwich and washing it down with Red Bull.

#24

I'm no royalist, but I also don't feel the need to make staunch republicanism part of my personality. Being in London and then on a busy train as the news of the Queen's death spread I was struck by how many people were making an effort to show that they don't care, or were even glad. Glib remarks about the wealth of the Royal Family in comparison to energy bills, as if one has anything at all to do with the other, was a very low point from a man who literally had the key to his Tesla on the table in front of him.

The Royal family is far from perfect, for obvious reasons. That doesn't make revelling in the death of someone who has been a constant in the lives of the majority of people acceptable.

#23

Throwing a coin into a wishing well and throwing a coin into a well has about the same level of efficacy.

#22

Food addiction is no joke. And when you're in a place where there is little joy to be had, those moments of anticipation before eating something delicious (not even the actual eating) become the highlight of the day.

From yesterday and today's writings, can you tell I'm not in a very good place? I'm not, but I have taken some small steps today to make improvements: Getting set up for better sleep, getting back into therapy, and getting back to things I loved in the past.

I'm really bored of feeling so lousy all the time, so I'm just not going to anymore.

#21

Depression is like wearing a weighted vest; it makes everything more difficult. You might love running, but when you have extra kilos strapped to you, you quickly learn to avoid it.

#20

I need to zone the house. Having really vague demarcation between rooms (the kitchen and bathroom aside) is definitely making my sleep, work, and relaxing time worse because there is so little context applied to each area those things happen in.

Sleep is pretty easy. I'm going to remove everything but my alarm clock from the bedroom and leave my phone elsewhere overnight so it's not the first and last thing I hold every day. Work and relaxation is harder; the space available means these have to happen in the same room, so I'm going to need something else to make that contextual shift.

I'm not above rewarding myself for managing to work consistently for a set period of time. It works for dogs.

#19

Having recently moved into a new place, it's become very clear that I am invading the habitat of many, many spiders. Every morning I walk into a newly spun web across a doorway before discovering a new bite or two. Every afternoon I go on a seek-and-destroy mission with the vacuum cleaner. Every evening I find yet another arachnid in a corner.

I haven't seen a single fly for more than a month, but there has to be some middle ground.

#18

Making useless stuff is important. There are a lot of variations of Useless Machines, with the most common being a machine whose only purpose is to switch itself off once switched on.

After a chat about the marquee tag at work this week (I'm sure web people talk about that weird relic at least once a month) I made something useless of my own. Marrying the deprecated marquee tag with a feature of a now obsolete technology, the DVD player screen saver. It's on CodePen, only really works properly on Chrome, and I have yet to see it hit the corner.

#17

An absolute expert in pouring time into things I shouldn't be doing, and neglecting those things that I should.

I'm not sure which one this post is.

#16

The Casey Neistat daily vlogs became an essential part of my day. When he moved to Los Angeles and his posts became much less frequent I lost interest. For me, his studio and New York City were characters, and them not longer featuring killed a lot of the appeal.

Casey's brother, Van, has his own channel and it carries a lot of the same home-made, DIY aesthetic. Engraving new possessions or creations, making something if buying it is expensive or it simply doesn't exist, and making the work space as functional as possible. It makes it obvious that a lot of the features of Casey's studio were conceived by Van.

Tom Sachs. A New York based artist. Van worked in his studio for a long time and was given a lot of autonomy to create videos including the amazing Ten Bullets. But the aesthetic is definitely Tom's, and it definitely influenced Van, who definitely influenced Casey.

#15

Every single day I look at the clock at 13:37. It might me when I check the time deliberately, it might be when I pick up my phone for a message, it might be when I glance at the clock for no apparent reason.

I know someone else with a similar thing. He needs to see 2222 every day, so often he sees the clock later in the evening or sees the numbers (or a very close approximation) on car number plates. He told me about this while we were driving through France, where he pointed out a mile marker with the magic numbers more than once.

#14

A boring, uneventful life is what I want. I want to choose when to add some flair or excitement to an otherwise stable and reliable base. I don't want things to happen to me, I want to make things happen when I want them.

Boxers work their opponents to make them tired, and once they're tired they can be taken down by a far less powerful punch.

#13

When recording music with microphones there is the chance of picking up sounds that aren't intentional. Fingers on guitar strings, the pedals on a piano, and even the clicking of a cross fader on a turn table while a DJ is scratching.

A 'pure' recording might only pick up the intended sounds, but I really like the imperfections. It lets you know there is a human involved.

#12

A first lap collision between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso put Lewis out the race. Alonso immediately gets on the radio, calling him an idiot and making claims about his race craft, or lack of.

Later, while being interviewed for Sky, they tried to tell Lewis what had been said and he immediately cut them off with 'I don't care', and accepted responsibility for the incident. I love this so much; the opinion of a rival who he already has history with was of absolutely no use to him. Most people would be curious, maybe even want an opportunity to dismiss it or defend themselves. But what would that actually achieve?

Hamilton's mental strength is crazy. The way he composed himself at the end of last season was unbelievable, congratulating Max Verstappen before quietly disappearing for the off-season. To this day has never talked about it, because like today's incident, what would be gained from opening that box?

#11

Technical choices for this daily writing experiment:

  • No tags or categorisation.
  • No searching.
  • No way to link to a particular post and no pagination.
  • No pictures.

Some of these decisions were made in order to keep it as simple as possible, others just need more time to figure out. How would I handle linking to specific posts? How would pagination work? These aren't hard problems to solve in React, but I want to stay as faithful to the low/no JavaScript dream as possible. There is no reason to send ANY JavaScript to a site that hosts static text.

But to be real for a second, there is a fair chance that I abandon this project entirely. MVPs aren't just for new business ideas, they're for flaky 'writers' who will run out of derivative observations really quickly, too.

#10

I own nice notebooks. I like the small Moleskine book with dots rather than a grid or ruled lines. I also like the Rhodia books because they're a little easier to use and maybe less formal (can a notebook be formal?). I like to make sure I use the same pen all the way through. Sometimes I start at one end for work notes and the other end for personal stuff, and they eventually meet in the middle.

I like all of that. But the vast majority of my notes are text messages to myself or frantic scribbling on the back on an envelope or some instructions for a recent IKEA purchase. Why exactly did I write 'fish', with no other context?

#09

Dropping my car off to be repaired, and part of their covid policy meant I was invited to put my keys in a bowl.

#08

The inside of your head is just pipes, all connected eventually. I don't know if this network goes as far up as my brain, but having one blocked ear made navigating an hour long drive to see a doctor much more difficult than usual. I got confused by a junction and had to do a full lap of a roundabout to finally get my turn. Twice.

#07

Despite the obvious violence, Red Dead Redemption II is one of the most relaxing forms of escapism I've ever found. There are plenty of opportunities to shoot bad guys, steal, and fight, but I tend to spend most of my time roaming around the absolutely vast open world finding beautiful waterfalls, landmarks (that the character, Arthur, will sketch), herbs and random people who'll buy them. If want more action, I can ride into the city of Saint Denis which I think is a version of New Orleans.

I'd pay money for a Zen version of this game; the map is open and there are no missions that progress the game. Just freedom to explore and peaceful side quests involving botany and collectables.

#06

How easy is it to separate the art from the artist? I always liked Louis CK as a comedian but the revelations of his conduct really soured his act, not least because some of his bits felt a little too weird when we could see how much truth was in them. Does Eric Gill's history of child abuse make his sculpture and typefaces any less remarkable? Coco Chanel was a nazi sympathiser, but does that make No. 5 smell bad?

Gary Glitter didn't make any great albums, so he can go and take all of his music with him. Michael Jackson made thriller, so we can't entertain that he might have been a monster because that means I can't listen to Bad unironically anymore.

#05

Imposter syndrome is a hell of a thing. Doing something near daily for more than a decade cannot defeat the doubt that comes in from a temporary loss of passion, shaky knowledge of the new, and such a crippling fear of making a mistake I choose to procrastinate and make everything ultimately worse.

Doing the scary things and seeing a positive result is the best remedy, but seeing that in the moment is nearly impossible. I recently learned about Brag Documents. You note down all the great stuff you do as you do it so as not to forget. While it's intended to help with performance reviews I think I can see it helping when reviewed in times of doubt, and fostering a 'I know I can do this' attitude.

Now I just need to gain the confidence to feel ok with bragging.

#04

There is no American experience outside of the USA quite as accurate as visiting Costco. Before you even get into the store, the carpark has huge bays that are ideal for an F150 or Silverado. The shopping carts are almost big enough to need the same parking bays, making anyone pushing one look tiny.

That weird phenomenon in public bathrooms of the stalls having dividers too far off the ground, not really high enough, and with large gaps around the doors is here. It makes any privacy they provide more of an agreement not to look than something actually effective.

Finally, there is the no-nonsense signage. In the car park, it's 'Wrong Way' and never 'No Entry'. And you won't see a sign for the butcher; just head for the all-caps black-on-white that simply reads 'MEAT'.

#03

I don't understand why IKEA makes it harder to buy their products. If I had to describe their delivery service in one word, it would be 'reluctant'. Expensive and very slow, and clearly designed to make you go to the store yourself. I like going to IKEA because of hotdogs, but I also can't fit a sofa in my car and my tolerance for loose children is low.

They could make a fortune by opening an online store for all the homeware that is crammed into the market hall. Fast and cheap delivery of things like lighting, mirrors, kitchenware, and soft furnishings would surely be relatively easy to set up and hugely lucrative. Throw in the meatballs and cinnamon buns and they'll sell everything anyone needs.

#02

I have just moved back to a town I used to live in after moving away for around 9 months. The end of a relationship comes with a lot of admin, and moving house for the 6th time in 10 years is the least welcome part of the whole ordeal.

Getting a haircut at the same barbers I used to visit, and noticing that the picture of the barber and his girlfriend that he kept on the mirror is now gone (leaving just the polaroids of his biggest carp catches) was a strange parallel. Confirmed by a chat about how expensive rent is these days.

I am well aware.

#01

I've done daily writing before. I made it well over 100 days. Then I stopped.

For some reason I thought that keeping it private until I reached a very long streak was the way to go, but that lack of any kind of accountability is what killed it for me. During the second lockdown I became very apathetic and this was one of the casualties. I didn't even keep the old posts, so this is very much a clean slate.