November 19, 2022

Twitter Highlights from 2012

We get off to a classy start:

My resolution for 2012 is to spend more time with my face buried in Karen’s cleavage.1 January 2012

A nice little pair:

Roundabouts on A46 y’day, sun low in the sky, white lines invisible. Singing to @erzsebel “I have no idea what I’m doing!” She loved that.3 January 2012
I hate hate hate having to gibberishify a story so it fits into 140 characters. Maybe I should go back to blogging.3 January 2012
I nearly deleted my Facebook account yesterday, but then got worried that it might seek retribution, and lost my nerve.10 January 2012

You’ll be pleased to know that I did eventually gather my fortitude and delete my Facebook account.

My pizza bases aren’t normally this perfectly round. It’s terrifying.12 January 2012

That sure is one super-round pizza base, perfectly proportioned to the stone. Well done, me. Well done.

I’ve finally decided that it’s time to retire the jeans that randomly unzip themselves. It’s mindboggling that it took me this long.27 January 2012
Once it happened at an audition. Most recently, in the presence of my kid’s headteacher. Liability Jeans.27 January 2012

The audition in question was in early 2010. I continued wearing the liability jeans for two years. Two years!

Sequels I’m looking forward to in 2012: GTA5, Max Payne 3, Silent Hill Downpour. Might also give Mass Effect 3 a try.30 January 2012

Of these, the only one that I actually tried was GTA5, and that wasn’t until 2019. At the time that I wrote this tweet, I still had a working XBox 360. It died a few months later, and then in early 2014 I got back into PC gaming in a big way.

@erzsebel Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve got the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother for us to watch this evening.14 February 2012
@erzsebel Roses are red, violets are red. You are red, and I’m thinking I should see an optometrist.14 February 2012

These little valentine’s day tweets are cute, aren’t they?

Guys, guys, guys. I’ve got an unopened box of treasury tags. We’ve just *got* to think of something awesome to do with them.9 March 2012

You may have noticed that some of my favourite tweets are the ones that I look back on and just think “…wait, what?”

The headline “Armed police seal off seafront” makes me think of a marine mammal with a badge and a gun, sited near, but not on, the beach.13 March 2012
“You won’t like me when I’m angry. No-one likes me when I’m angry. In fact, no-one likes me at all. Leave me alone.” – The Incredible Sulk11 April 2012

Quality jokes here, people.

I just mistook a coworker’s head for a cat. Fortunately, I realised my mistake very quickly, so no-one will ever know.17 April 2012

One of the fantastic things about the 140 character limit is all of the questions that are left unanswered. Like, at the point at which I was still under the delusion that my co-worker’s head was a cat, did I… attempt to stroke it? Try to feed it fish? Open the back door for it? We’ll never know!

Just explained copying and pasting to my dad for the 852nd time.21 April 2012

I think I’m probably exaggerating slightly here.

For the sake of my reputation, please promise you’ll never retweet anything of mine that contains spwllung mistkaes.11 May 2012

No-one liked or retweeted this.

Hey, dya know what I miss about my childhood? Buying blank tapes.13 May 2012

Another bit of nostalgia-bait that failed to elicit any likes or retweets.

It’s a universally accepted truth that one of the best ways to start your day is with a collection of small piles of cat vomit.16 May 2012

Oh but THIS gets a like? Fine, I see how it is.

It’s a long time since you’ve looked at your nipples. Properly looked at them. A good, long stare. You should do that sometime.17 May 2012

I wrote this. I wrote THIS. I WROTE this. I can’t tell whether this is glorious, or one of the weirdest things I’ve ever read. I can’t stop looking at it. Argh and now I’m looking at my nipples. I can’t take my eyes off of them!

I assert that the most ticklish place in the universe is the roof of my mouth.18 June 2012

Have you tried it? Tip of your tongue, get stuck in there. It’s electric for me, how is it for you?

If the person that I just sneezed on is out there, I’m sorry about that.26 June 2012
I would have apologised in person, but you ran away very quickly.26 June 2012

Ah now this I remember. I was on the train home, and I felt a big sneeze coming, so I covered my mouth to redirect it away from the person sat next to me. Unfortunately, it was a crowded train, so it just ended up being redirected onto another person. She made a horrified face, stood up, and dashed off, and I don’t blame her one little bit. This was 7 years before covid, but even then, it was disgusting.

Karen’s new HTC One S makes my old HTC Wildfire look a clunkety old piece of pants. Eagerly anticipating Upgrade o’clock.14 August 2012

If you want to know more about my history of mobile phones, I have written the following articles:

Toast, you are in me.15 September 2012

Apparently, I very briefly became one of those intolerable arseholes who tweets the minutiae of their morning routine. Thankfully it didn’t last.

Imagine looking in the mirror, opening your mouth, and a daddy long-legs slowly walking out.

Sweet dreams, kids.21 September 2012

I guess I just had a horrific thought out of nowhere and then wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only person suffering.

No-one liked or retweeted this.

Watching Firefly for the first time. I wasn’t expecting it to be so much like Cowboy Bebop.24 September 2012

If this reads like praise, that’s because it is.

My son is sat on the toilet singing “Happy Birthday”. Periodically the singing pauses, there’s some grunting, and singing resumes.20 October 2012

Karen said I shouldn’t post this one, but I beg to differ. Later on the same day:

Lemur rhymes with demur, right? Right?20 October 2012

It’s one of those thoughts that I’ve always found it hard to shake. Like how vestige should really rhyme with prestige.

Just taught copy and paste to my dad. About eight times now.11 November 2012

853rd time, surely?

3/3 …had to change my trousers right there in front of all the bishops! Top that story, if you can!30 November 2012

Once upon a time, people only used Twitter for short, 140 character messages. Then some atrocious excuse for a human invented the “thread”. We all know where that ended up. This was one of my early, dirty, protests, and I think history proved me to be in the right.

I was clearly drunk on the train on the way home on 2 December, because I posted this sequence:

Just got told off for having my shoes on the seats. Yeah, I’m the bad boy. THE BADDEST BOY.2 December 2012
For my next trick, I’m gonna… actually, I have no idea. What do the kids do these days when they want to antagonise train attendants?2 December 2012
Anyone here from Weybridge? no? Nvm.2 December 2012
Good evening Weybridge. How are you all doing. That’s great, that’s great.2 December 2012

And then…

I think I just trod on a snail.2 December 2012

And the last noteworthy tweet of the year was:

I’m a little poorly. My head isn’t working quite right. You can tell because I just said “dildo” to my boss.20 December 2012

Part of the fun of reviewing these tweets is playing the “did that really happen, or did I make that up?” game. But then another part of the fun of reviewing these tweets is playing the “yep, that definitely happened, I remember it as if it was yesterday” game.

And that’s all for 2012, but there’s a beaut coming up in January 2013.

  • Comments: 3
  • I never realised until now how much my life is defined by the intensity and nature of my s... - Pete
  • They should have their own twitter account. They should be the last thing left on twitter. - Karen
  • Your *$£^ing sneezes. - Karen
November 17, 2022

Twitter Highlights From 2011

Continuing the series…

@erzsebel Creeper phone sock is currently at #6 on the front page of /r/minecraft, and rising. #minecraft #knitting31 January 2011

Back when I played Minecraft, before it was cool, Karen knitted me a creeper phone sock (and subsequently some matching creeper socks for my feet too).

This cold is a big one. I just sneezed on the wall. I think I managed to clean it up before anyone noticed.9 February 2011

I want to believe that this was one of those occasions where I made up a story for hyperbolic effect. I do that a lot. But every now and then I slip something truthful in, and it terrifies me to think that this might be one of those.

Argh acid reflux. Feels like there’s a pie stuck in my throat. An evil pie.10 February 2011
Cripes. The Fortune Theatre might be the steepest thing I’ve ever sat in.10 February 2011

These two tweets together on the same day leave no doubt in my mind that this was the day we went to see The Woman In Black. I remember having a bottle of Gaviscon in my bag that day, and swigging from it frequently.

Roses are red, violets are blue. I picked up some Scrumpy Jack yesterday and I’m confident that that’s enough to satisfy you.14 February 2011

Presented without comment.

App tabs in Firefox 4 are nifty-spifty.16 March 2011

followed by:

This image might explain it: – look in the top left corner.16 March 2011

While that image link does still work at the time of writing this, I want to embed the image below as well, just in case, because this is what web browsers looked like in 2011 and it’s glorious:

One pork pie in the lunchbox: that’s a good day. Today is a two pork pie day.25 March 2011

I had to cut down on my pork pie intake due to health reasons. This tweet was from a simpler time, back when I was barely into my thirties and could eat whatever I wanted.

A pair of delightful idiots.2 April 2011

Lots of nostalgia in that photo, including a cat who is sadly no longer with us.

Fuck yeah sausage sandwich.11 April 2011

Some things never change.

@notch My girlfriend raised the point that Minecrafters are at risk of scurvy. We need occasional apple drops from tree leaves.1 May 2011

If you’ve ever wondered where the idea for apple drops from trees in Minecraft came from, it was me.

Last night I dreamed the most beautiful song in the world. In my dream I cried because I knew I wouldn’t be able to remember it when I woke.23 May 2011

Dreaming the most perfect song in the world is something that happens to me quite frequently. The bit about crying though – that was a special occasion.

And in case you’re wondering, no this is not one of those occasions where I made up a story. This happened, and I remember it happening. Sadly, I do not remember the song.

Car in the garage. I sense it will be one of those quick jobs, where they are calling me to come and collect it before I even get to work.10 June 2011

…wait for it…

Glad I didn’t cancel the AA membership then.11 June 2011
Oh jaffa cake, oh jaffa cake. How hev’nly are your jaffae.18 June 2011

It’s not profound or anything, but it does possess a certain beauty.

In July there are a few tweets and retweets about the News Of The World hacking scandal, and also some stuff about my home brewed beer.

TIL some people use *three* spaces after a full stop.16 August 2011

Sounds like it must have been a bad day.

Pub lunch. Pub dinner. That is how you know you are on holiday.26 August 2011
Ignore my last tweet. We have added a pub breakfast to the sequence. Wondering if we are going to shoot for four in a row.27 August 2011

That’s some pretty good holidaying there, 2011 Pete.

My cat woke me in the night by kissing me on the arm. Cute, but weird.12 September 2011

Maisy was such an adorable little bundle.

We’re having the fireplace ripped out today. I’ve discovered hidden treasure under the mantelpiece. 5 October 2011

After having the bedroom redone the previous year, in 2011 we did the living room. I was particularly tickled by this pair of glasses that had been left inside the old fireplace, and wondered about the person who left them there, and whether they spent the rest of their life wondering where that pair of glasses could have got to.

Lambda is my favourite Greek letter. It always makes me want to dance.7 November 2011

And now I’ve got that song in my head.

Going to be living under the Water Tank of Damocles for 5 days. Contains scenes of aquatic peril.10 November 2011

We discovered a split in the cold water tank in our attic, which we then had replaced. I remember the plumber working quite late one evening to get the job finished, for which I’ve been forever grateful.

Tonights pizza is far from circular. But noone is looking too hard.25 November 2011
Strangely, it also tastes uncircular. If you can imagine such a flavour.25 November 2011

No, I can’t, and I refuse to believe that 2011 Pete could either. I think he was just being a tease.

Being a teenage girl must be exhausting, what with all the shrieking.29 December 2011

And, to finish off the year:

I was poised to condemn the dining options at Kings Cross. And then I remembered – pasties!30 December 2011

The first tweet for 2012 is a beaut, but you’ll have to wait until the next instalment to find out what it is!

  • Comments: 2
  • The reflux in 2011 was very much an isolated occurrence, I don't think it had any relation... - Pete
  • I have commentary. Firstly, your sneezes have since become legendARY, so I can quite beli... - Karen
November 16, 2022

Twitter Highlights From 2010

With the absolute state of Twitter right now, I’m probably not the only person bracing for impact. One of my minor regrets is putting so much good content over there, instead of over here. When I discovered how easy (albeit slow) it is to obtain an extract of all your data, I felt that there was only one thing to do – collate a few highlights over here.

Here’s my first tweet:

Of course, when people ask me if I have a twitter account, I can now no longer say “yeah, I had one of those, back in 2007”12 March 2010

Because I actually created my first Twitter account back in ’07, and then deleted it because I thought that Twitter was just a fad that would never take off. A fine joke on me.

I need to get out more – last night’s trip to the corner shop for sellotape filled me with excitement and danger. It should not have.24 March 2010

I have no idea why this was so exciting for me at the time, but the lack of details is part of the mystery. No-one liked or retweeted it.

On April 7 I livetweeted the live coverage of the debate about the Digital Economy Act, including a few rants about my local MP for not doing more to stop it. Despite stating that he was against it, he didn’t turn up for the vote. I challenged him about this on his blog, and he said that the reason why he turned up was that it wouldn’t have made any difference. I was disappointed with this response, and his implication that there’s no point voting if you think you won’t win.

Caught the sun at the #stockcars this afternoon. What a truly awesome Sunday.18 April 2010

It’s a long time since I’ve been to the stock cars. The smell! The sounds! The cheap hot dogs!

Ah, the sound of air brakes overhead. Normalcy is resumed.21 April 2010

This tweet completely out of context, was about the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, and the total shutdown of airspace that followed as a result.

The following day I livetweeted the general election leaders’ debate, including this delightful gem:

I can hear cats arguing outside. How apt. #leadersdebate #rwoowaarawrwoororo22 April 2010
There’s a perfectly reasonable explanation why “BROBOT BUNNY” appears on my credit card statement this month.18 May 2010

Yet I guess I never felt the need to share what that explanation might be.

Carcassonne is supposedly suitable for ages 10+. I have a 3 year old here who would beg to differ.19 May 2010

I was such an insufferably smug parent.

This week is going to be a big blur of wardrobes, carpets, laminate flooring and network cabling. Everything is out, in, up or down.19 July 2010

We had our bedroom redone. I took the opportunity to get under the floorboards and lay a bit of ethernet cable, which has continued to prove useful to this day. This was my first time doing laminate flooring, and while I got pretty decent at it by the end of the room, those first few widths were poorly done, and haunt me to this day.

My tweeting frequency then dropped off for the remaining months of the year, consisting mainly of miscellaneous humorous links and retweets and exchanges with my other friends on the platform.

My final tweet of the year:

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” #douglasadams10 December 2010
October 2, 2022

Pandemic Legacy: Season Two

Back in February, we finished our playthrough of Pandemic Legacy Season One. It took us a bit longer than planned, as a certain real-world pandemic hampered our capability to get together to play. So now, with another wave of a certain real-world pandemic looming, it felt like a really smart time to embark upon the second season.

The first thing I was surprised by was the fairly significant gameplay differences to the previous season. Whereas Season One takes the core gameplay elements from the non-legacy game (you have four independent diseases and need to move around a world map, finding cures for them), Season Two throws that out the window.

The setting for this game is that it’s 70 years after a cataclysmic world-changing pandemic, and most of humankind are managing to escape it by living in offshore havens. So huge change number one is that instead of starting with the entire world to play with, you just have access to the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, with 3 offshore havens and 9 coastal cities. More areas will be unlocked as we progress through the game.

The second huge change is that instead of managing four rampant diseases, there is now only one disease, and you need to maintain supplies in all the various locations to prevent it from appearing at all. If a mere 8 disease cubes make it onto the board, then it’s game over, and there is no way to remove the cubes once they are there. Whereas in the base game you collect city cards of the same colour in order to find the cure for diseases, in this game you collect city cards of the same colour in order to build supply centres.

Thankfully, the game developers include instructions for a non-destructive “prologue” mode to allow you to familiarise yourself with the new rules, without starting the legacy playthrough proper.

Step one was to name our three havens. We eventually settled on “Gloomfort”, “Helm’s Deep”, and “The Winchester”

Our three havens

Step two was to create our characters. Allow me to introduce them.

Lucius Keswick starts at The Winchester and is an Administrator, which means that once per turn he can move any pawn to the same location as any other pawn. This is a slightly nerfed version of the Dispatcher from the previous game, as the dispatcher could also move other pawns to adjacent locations, and could do this multiple times in a turn.

Paphoestra starts at Gloomfort (erroneously filled in on the character sheet as Gloomhaven) and is a Radio Operator which allows her to transfer supply cubes to and from characters in any location. This is also a free action.

Bez starts at The Winchester and is a Labourer, which means they can build supply centres with just 4 cards instead of 5. However, there is a cost of 2 supply cubes to do this. This is broadly similar to the scientist role in the previous game.

Maggot starts at Helm’s Deep and is a Farmer (of course), and can make supplies and deliver them in a single action, whereas it would normally take two actions.

Finally, Ophelia lives in Helm’s Deep and is an Instructor, which allows her to give any card to another player in her location, not dissimilar to the researcher in the previous game (but again a bit less powerful).

We played two prologue games, of which we won one and lost one. We then had our dinner before settling down to play our first attempt at January. We were given two mandatory objectives:

  1. Build 3 supply centres (same as we had in the prologue)
  2. Recon North America.

To do the second, we’d need to build a supply centre in Washington, and then also spend another three blue city cards there. This would then permanently expand the scope of our game board to include that region of the world.

We were also given the first of our turning point cards, which hang around until the specified criteria are triggered. In this case, once any city drops to zero population, we apply the given instruction at the end of that game.

We picked the following characters:

  • Karen – Ophelia (Instructor)
  • Susan – Bez (Labourer)
  • Gammidgy – Maggot (Farmer)
  • Pete – Lucius (Administrator)

Karen managed to turn up an epidemic card on her first turn, which was terrible luck, and indeed she was also responsible for the majority of epidemics thereafter, which is very suspicious. This first epidemic was in Istanbul. In this game, when an epidemic hits a city, you remove all of the supply cubes from it. Having no supply cubes on a city is dangerous, because then whenever it comes up when drawing infection cards, a plague cube gets put on. As mentioned before, each of these plague cubes takes us 1/8 of the way to losing the game.

After one go round the board, things were moving slowly. Susan had 3 yellows in her hand, which meant she was only one away from being able to build our first supply centre. Already we could see that achieving both mandatory objectives in the game would be a stretch, as we struggled to achieve just one of them when playing the prologue games. However, if we had to prioritise one, then it made sense to prioritise the objective to recon North America, as this would not need to be done a second time.

After our second set of turns, things were still fairly stable. Gammidgy and I were starting to accumulate a few blue cards in our hands.

During our third turn, a second epidemic came up in Istanbul, wiping out all the supply cubes that we’d only just refilled the city with. Susan managed to accumulate the four yellow city cards (plus two supply cubes) to build our first supply centre in Lagos. By the end of this turn, it felt like the number of supply cubes out there was dwindling fast. From the start of the game, when there were 25 out, it had now dropped to 13. A third epidemic in Istanbul meant that there was now a plague cube there.

In good news, however, I had 3 blue cards and 2 blacks in my hand, and Gammidgy had 3 blacks and 2 blues, which meant that as long as we could figure out how to get the cards into the hands of the people who needed them, we were in with a shot. Susan ended a turn in Istanbul – you definitely don’t want to start your turn in a city with a plague cube, as you will pick up a scar and potentially even die immediately, but the administrator’s power is great for extracting characters from dangerous locations.

At this point we counted up the cards in the player deck and realised we only had enough time left for two more turns around the table. We concluded that there was absolutely no way we could achieve both mandatory objectives in this game, so having resigned ourselves to a best-case scenario of just hitting one, we all started to converge on Washington. We had an idea for how we could get enough blue cards into my hand that I would be able to build a supply centre in Washington and perform the recon on my final turn. The next epidemic was in London, and the floodgates were well and truly open. Sao Paulo was in a terrible state. Our plan would only work if we got lucky with the infections – too many disease cubes would spell the end of us.

We managed to pull off the recon mission, but only by the skin of our teeth. Opening the package as instructed gave us the sticker for North America, plus the creation of two new actions.

The new area that we’ll be exploring in the next game (there are no tokens on the board, because I took this photo after we’d already packed away)

The first action is the creation of supply lines. We have to build our own road network! These roads must be drawn on the map in pen, and must be straight lines that don’t cross water or other supply lines. The more cities we link into the road network, the more points we get for game-end upgrades.

The second action concerns “searching”. Some city cards have scratch-off panels on them, and spending an action would allow us to scratch off the panel and see what is underneath. Some cards would yield a one-time instruction, others would give a companion who grants a permanent ability. I guess we’ll learn more about that when we get to try it.

By this time we were sailing very close to the edge so it won’t surprise you to learn that by the end of my turn, we had lost the game. But at least we got the recon complete, so we’ve achieved something positive.

In the game end reckoning, 5 cities have lost population (by dint of having disease cubes in them) and 2 have gained population (by dint of having a supply centre). Lots of new rationed and unrationed event cards (the equivalent of funded and unfunded events in the previous game) have been added to our deck. With 3 points available for game-end upgrades, we decided to give Ophelia the Helmsman perk which would slightly reduce the action point cost for movement.

We didn’t have enough energy left for a second attempt at January, so called it a night. Our conclusions from this first game is that it feels much more difficult than the first season, though we are enjoying the change-up in the game mechanics. This might be a game that we lose at very often.

September 25, 2022

The Treasure Chest

If you’re anything like me, you have a large box of artefacts that you keep in the garage, or maybe the attic, which contains all sorts of significant items from your life so far. I also have a smaller box that I keep on the shelf above my desk which acts as a kind of holding area – an easy-to-reach place where things will sit temporarily. That box fills up every few years, and that triggers the extraction of the large box from the garage so that the new items can be transferred in.

To describe the large box in filesystem terms, it’s optimised for writes. It contains all sorts of things – letters, notebooks, ticket stubs, concert programmes, a small piece of the Berlin Wall – and any grouping is mostly coincidental. There’s some vague semblance of chronology, by dint of temporally-related items being put in at about the same time, but the need to repeatedly reorganise the box to fit everything in has resulted in this being greatly undermined. There’s also a smaller box in it that generally contains concert tickets, which prevents all of those from sinking to the bottom and getting lost.

Opening the box is a dangerous affair, because I know how easy it would be to disappear into a cloud of nostalgia and not emerge for about twelve hours. In order to try and keep things under control, I attempt to skim through at speed, not getting too bogged down in the details, fighting my urge to read every letter in its entirety. There’s another danger too, in that while some items, like concert tickets and notebooks, are generally pretty much self-documenting, others may be a little more obscure, and the process of flicking through the contents of the treasure chest may result in those items becoming separated from other items that give them the necessary context.

I find myself wondering if there would be value in organising the box in some way. Giving it structure might make me more likely to dip into it occasionally for a brief, focused exploration, instead of having to always go all-or-nothing. Chronological certainly has a lot going for it – if I were to break it out into four separate boxes representing the four ages of Pete, then this could help. Alternatively I could split by type – there’s already a sub-box for concert tickets, which could be tightened up and then joined by a sub-box for letters (and maybe pull diaries, notebooks and journals out entirely).

What do you think? What does your trove look like? How big is it? Is there structure? How often do you go into it, and when you do, how long do you get lost in it for?

  • Comments: 1
  • I opened my archive box a couple of weeks ago, and chucked out most of the stuff that was ... - Karen
June 24, 2022

Technology at a glacial pace Part 2

Back in November 2016, I replaced my mobile phone. The new purchase was a OnePlus 3, and I wrote about its huge 5.5″ screen and the colossal battery that I only got through 30% of each day. I also optimistically wrote that I hoped to get 4 years out of it, assuming that the collapse of civilisation didn’t render mobile phones redundant first.

Well, I’m happy to say that the collapse of civilisation is progressing a little slower than anticipated, so mobile phones are still a thing. Also, it’s now more than 5 and a half years later, so the OP3 definitely rose to the challenge. That said, the fact that I’m writing this blog post has probably clued you in to the fact that all is not rosy.

Over the last couple of years the battery capacity of the OP3 has diminished noticeably. Whereas when it was fresh I was only needing to top up 30% per day, this increased to more like 70%. Not really a problem while I was spending most of my life stuck at home, but it seemed like the world had collectively decided that covid wasn’t a thing worth trying to combat any more, and so I might find myself spending more time out of the house. The phone itself was still meeting my needs, so I figured that a battery replacement would prolong its life considerably. I got a quote from a very reputable-looking shop in town and they quoted me £70. This felt like a good deal, if it meant I could keep using the phone for another 5 years.

It turned out to be a bad idea.

Initially, the phone seemed to be having difficulty calibrating the new battery. It would run down to 1% within a few hours, and then sit on 1% for a day. I contacted the shop and they gave me some tips, and suggested I stick with it. But 3 months later, and things are still bad. I charge the phone overnight, and by the evening it’s always down to 1%, and sometimes even switches off entirely. I will contact the shop but I feel like they’re probably going to try and find some excuse to dodge giving a refund. They’re more likely to offer another replacement, which means the whole cycle starts again.

I’ve decided to do what I should have done in the first place, and just get a replacement.

Phone trends have changed quite a bit over the last 5 years. The OP3’s 1cm top and bottom bezels would be a laughing stock nowadays, much to my chagrin. We briefly went through a period of “notches” in the screen, nowadays it’s all about the little punch hole for the front camera, and having the slimmest bezels possible. Back camera assemblies have also changed, from generally only holding a single lens, to typically 3 or 4. The saddest thing of all is that headphone jacks are not common on phones nowadays.

I’ve been occasionally browsing phones over the last few years, and have generally been disappointed with what I’ve seen, which is why I’ve stuck with the OP3. It has to have a headphone jack, and NFC. It has to be Android. It has to be reasonably performant, with at least 64GB internal storage. I don’t want a Samsung or Sony. And it can’t be more than about £300.

But at last, I have found a phone that I could get really excited about. After recommending Motorola phones to friends and family for years, I’m finally getting one for myself. I have ordered a Motorola Edge 20 Lite, and it should arrive in the next few days.

March 15, 2022

Pandemic Legacy (not the boardgame)

Lots of people have had COVID-19 by now, as was always the long term plan of our government. A couple of weeks ago I can remember having more than one conversation in which I remarked that it was quite something not to have had it in this house yet. And despite the lack of any kind of interventionist deity, this immediately summoned the Gods of Covid Cussedness, who whispered in my ear, go on, take a train to Banbury, have lunch in a cafe with a colleague, visit a couple of shops. You’ll be FINE.

A rapid covid test cartridge showing a positive resultThat was on the Thursday. On Saturday morning I was mostly a bit grumpy. In the afternoon, I fell asleep on the sofa and woke up feeling decidedly grotty. I had suspicions, but a LFT told me they were unfounded, so I carried on into Sunday, when the full headache and sore throat developed, and I did a lot of sleeping. First thing on Monday, I did a test and was unsurprised to see two lines. Like a pregnancy test, it’s no longer a scare once it’s real. I cancelled everything for that day and went back to bed, getting up to make and eat dinner, at which point Bernard rather crossly said, if you’ve got COVID, why are you eating with us? so I went back to bed and have been here pretty much ever since.

Here’s how it’s been for triple-jabbed me: tiredness, sore throat, headache, head cold, cough, sore teeth/gums, tiredness tiredness tiredness. About three days of pretty bad symptoms, but never as intensely awful as my reaction to the jabs. Able to do a bit of work on and off, much dozing and listening to audiobooks. Pete moved into the spare room/his office and has been sleeping on a zedbed and manfully claiming that he’s fine with that. I’m not fine with it, I miss him and I’m fed up of the bed, which is now covered with notebooks and biscuit crumbs. There’s no point changing this bedding until I test negative and he can come back. We wear masks if we’re in the same room as each other. We converse over Discord. In the evenings, he loads a couple of TV programmes on to a thumb drive and we watch “together” in our separate rooms, occasionally texting one another with our thoughts.

On Day 5 I did a LFT and the line was black and bold, just in case I thought I was malingering. I cancelled my work weekend in Worcester and couldn’t get a train refund. I got up and recorded a podcast, then slept all afternoon. Pete walked into town at lunchtime and brought me back a cinnamon bun. It was the most delicious cinnamon bun. I have had no taste/smell symptoms at all, for which I am grateful.

From Day 7, I have been testing daily, and the line is getting feinter, but it’s still there. It’s still a line that would, had I seen it on Day 1, have sent me into isolation. I google “am I still infectious after 10 days?” and “will I have COVID in my system forever?” and continue to stay in my room, with the daily exception, since the weather improved, of a daily walk of about one mile. I get breathless on zoom calls and have to pause mid-sentence; but I can stand up long enough to cook dinner without feeling awful. Most of the symptoms have eased off, and without a world in which we test our virus levels, I would expect myself to be back to normal life by now. But if it’s still showing up on a LFT, I’m not prepared to risk giving it to Pete and Bernard. Bernard has Teacher Assessed Grading exams all week, which are the Plan B for if COVID disrupts GCSEs again, so it was never worth the risk of them missing those. And who will run around after me if Pete gets sick?

March 12, 2022

He’s a Keeper

I am very bad at getting rid of things. I’m like the anti-Marie Kondo.

Having read this, you probably now have a mental image of one of those people who lives in squalor, boxes upon boxes of old newspapers and tat lining the walls, the walkability of their house reduced to just narrow lines of dirty carpet amidst the piles of detritus, sleeping upon the piles of old football programmes on their bed, plastic bags full of human faeces in the corners, a dead cat corpse that is so old and dessicated that it no longer smells (and even when it was fresh, the odour was barely noticeable anyway amidst the rest of the stygian funk).

I hasten to add, this is not me, and this will never be me. As is so often the case, I open with a shocking statement, and then spend the rest of the blog post backpedalling from it until you are left with a feeling of being somewhat cheated. I pretty much invented clickbait.

The Caveats

First off, I have no problem with getting rid of things that are broken. If a thing no longer works, and can not be repaired, then I will bid it adieu.

Secondly, I acquire new things very slowly. So slow as to be glacial. New purchases are researched carefully. I still have almost every mobile phone that I’ve ever owned, but then that total only comes up to 6, so it’s not really a huge problem. I still have every guitar that I’ve ever owned, but then that total comes up to 9, so it’s not really a huge problem. On that note, when I’m on a video call and someone remarks upon the array of guitars behind me, it always leaves me with a faint feeling of duplicity, because what I know (and they don’t) is that half of them never get played, but are only still here because I can’t bear to part with them. I own many pairs of shoes which I never wear, but aren’t quite fucked enough to throw away.

What this means is that I’m not terribly worried about becoming a full-on hoarder. I think that to get to that state, you need to have the combination of never getting rid of things, with a high rate of acquisition. One without the other is generally manageable.

The Exceptions

The fact that the exceptions to this pattern are so clear in my mind is testament to the fact that there are so few of them.

I have generally been good at getting rid of old bass amps. I don’t have a 100% success rate here, as my wide streak of nostalgia has prevented me from parting with the piece of crap that is my first ever bass amp, but with that exception, I’ve managed to stay on top of this one, and always sold on my amp once it’s superseded. I think that, in this case, it’s a question of size. When something takes up such a large amount of room, it’s much easier to look at it and say “I’m never going to use that, and keeping it around just in case is not worth it.”

A few years back I also went on a bit of a cable-management spree. As is probably the case for anyone who is a bit of a computer geek, I had a huge collection of spare USB cables, power cables, video cables, and other paraphernalia. They were taking up a lot of space, so I made a project of collating them by type and identifying duplicates. In most cases, I felt like there was value in having one spare but not multiples, so I kept one and gave away the remainder.

I also have, in the past, sold (or given away) large numbers of CDs, DVDs and VHS tapes. It felt justifiable at the time, but I still find myself regretting parting with one or two of them. I think that, to understand this better, it’s time to burrow into my brain and start exploring The Why.

The Why

Part of this stems from a logic of “that thing might be useful again one day, it’s worth keeping around”. I’m going to show you an example now. But before I do, I want to make a small prediction. Ever since the second paragraph of this blog post, you’ve probably been thinking “okay, this all seems reasonably rational.” But this next example is possibly going to be the thing that makes you think “wow, I spoke too soon, I think this guy does actually have problems.”

These are the adhesive labels that you got with blank VHS cassettes. This particular vintage dates back to the ’90s, or maybe early ’00s. I haven’t owned a VHS player for over a decade. But once upon a time, I started holding onto the spares because they seemed like they might be useful one day. Maybe those little icon stickers could be useful in some other context? Or maybe I’d have a situation where I needed to reuse a particular tape for the thirtieth time, and I wanted to have a fresh label for each recording? These stickers are perhaps one of the oldest items in my collection, but I knew exactly where I’d find them, and if you wanted me to keep showing other such examples, I could do so all day. But this segues nicely into the second part of The Why.

I seem to be quite a nostalgic sort of person. I like to look at the adhesive labels and be reminded of the person I was back then – how he’s changed, and how he’s stayed the same. He had his flaws, of course, but he sure did like to organise his VHS tapes. I like to look at an old CD single from the 90s and remember all the time spent in music shops in Lincoln, and the people I used to sit around with and listen to indie music. I guess I’m afraid that if I don’t have these physical items to tie me to the memories, then I’ll lose them forever. And I think that I’m justified in believing this, because I know that it happens. I have precious few artifacts from my three years at university, and it really bothers me because I find that huge swathes of that period are collapsed down into the few brief glimpses that I can still remember, and I feel like if I had more things from that time then I’d be able to stimulate and retain more of those memories. Soon after finishing my degree, I found myself regretting that I hadn’t taken more photos, especially of the mundane things. I wish I had taken a photo of my bedrooms – not to highlight any particular detail, but just as a record of the spaces that I spent so much time in. I suppose at the time I was living very much in the now, and not thinking about what Future Pete would want.

As an example of how it manifests itself, my home recording studio setup has evolved throughout the years, from a tape-based 4-track, through a minidisc-based 8-track, and now to a studio that’s entirely on my computers (desktop and laptop) that has none of the limitations of either. I’m never going to use the 4-track or 8-track again, I can be certain of that. But they both still work, and so I still own them both. I suppose I’m afraid that if I get rid of them then I might also lose access to the memories associated with them. To which you will reply “why not take a photo, and then get rid of them?” To which I reply that I now seem to have the opposite problem, which is that I now have a 45 GB photo archive, and putting photos in there in the hope of retaining memories is about as optimistic as homeopathy. I did used to be quite methodical about curating my photo archive, back when I used a standalone digital camera, but as I’ve shifted towards using my phone more, the process has fallen apart.

The Conclusion

It seems that I will keep things under the following conditions:

  1. I am actively using them
  2. I think I might need them again some day
  3. There is a memory attached to them

The Plan

Here are some things that I might consider:

  • Get back into the habit of curating my photo collection. Turn it back into something that’s a pleasure to review, instead of tedious
  • Identify the things that I’m keeping for pure nostalgic reasons, not because I think they might be useful. Focus on larger items. Figure out what it would take for me to get comfortable with the idea of handing them on.
  • Identify the things that I don’t use, or have an emotional attachment to, but I’m keeping “just in case”. Again, focus on the larger items. Once I’ve convinced myself that I’m realistically not going to need them, by my calculations it should be a breeze to rid myself of them.