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w/e 2019-12-22

Nearly Christmas! Nearly 2020!

§   I did a couple of days work for a new client this week, which was fun and satisfying, lots of typing. I think this is the first client who’s approached me as a direct result of seeing The Diary of Samuel Pepys so it’s proof that hobby projects can lead to paying work. It might take 17 years but don’t let that stop you.

As well as doing some D3.js, I was also writing PHP which I’ve only done the past few years when hacking at WordPress. Using it to make a small site largely from scratch is quite a liberating experience after years of the relative rigours of using Python and frameworks like Django or Flask. Put stuff wherever you like! Sure, throw some global variables around! Mix all that code and HTML however seems to work!

I’m kind of joking. Obviously I’m trying to organise things as sanely as possible without making it over-complex, and I know PHP is a lot better these days and has its own decent frameworks, but still. I felt young again!

§   In other retro activity, this afternoon I’ve been doing my annual session of “make some Christmas or New Year cards” (the latter this year). Only a handful, for the few people who I receive Christmas cards from. This year’s design is a bit more involved than my usual minimal-viable-design but I very much enjoy the cutting and sticking.

Photo of a scalpel and pencil on a cutting mat
2005’s Christmas card production, on Flickr

The process reminds me of university when many of my projects involved making card and paper into things that weren’t quite illustration or fine art or sculpture (and so kind of pointless). Phrases like “Swann Morton is my co-pilot” and “10A blades have a posse” are phrases that appeared in my this afternoon mind but would sound even more ridiculous if I said them out loud.

While cutting I started listening to David Harvey’s Anti-Capitalist Chronicles podcast which is good although, so far, understandably gloomy. There’s something about the style, which is very conversational so full of generalising tics like “you know” and “kind of”, that makes me slightly uneasy though. I know that if I heard something in this style, with few citations, from the right I’d be extra dubious of it. Does that make sense?

§   We watched season two of The Sinner which was very good. I wrote about season one a year ago and felt it relied too much on flashbacks to make it seem interesting. This seemed less of an issue in season two. Some of the flashbacks were to the more distant past, and some only to previously-unseen events that happened during the current narrative, but they all seemed to fit well into the flow, and felt less forced. Sometimes it felt that clues would appear at just the right moment to move the plot along and be just a bit too clear, but it must be hard to make detective work convincing without having an episode where everyone sits round doing nothing but paperwork and looking stumped. I still really like Bill Pullman, and Elisha Henig as the child at the centre of the drama was great – he sometimes looked as wise and as worn as a 40 year old.

§   I also went to see Honey Boy which was good. Another good performance from a young boy (Noah Jupe) and also from Shia LaBeouf who I’ve only otherwise seen in American Honey, where he was also really interesting to watch. He appears to have been in many other things unrelated to honey.

§   I had my final refresher driving lesson this week, my second two-hour lesson, which gave just enough time to get out to the relative countryside of north London for some experience that didn’t involve Islington’s speed bumps. The roads aren’t quite Herefordshire-level country lanes (they had a lane going in each direction, which is obviously poncy London luxury) but it was useful nonetheless. After a few weeks of lessons I definitely feel more confident than I did before about the prospects of having to do a lot of driving after the move. If you want to learn to drive, or want refresher lessons, I can recommend Elisio at Holborn School of Motoring.

I also had my final trips to the gym/pool this week. Apart from a couple of years’ break while at LISPA (that was enough exercise) I’ve been going there 3-6 times a week for the past fifteen years. And yet I hardly know anyone to say goodbye to. The only people I used to chat to in the pool have all left, and the one guy I chatted to in the changing room has retired. There are several people in the gym who I’ll smile and nod “hello” to but, much as I’ll miss seeing their familiar faces, it seems weird to introduce oneself only to say goodbye.

Otherwise, this week I’ve been trying not to second guess what I’m going to miss most about where we live in London once we move. I’m sure there will be plenty but hopefully they’ll be at least balanced by new good things.

§   Have a good Christmas or just a good week.

Photo of a green triangle of paper
Last year’s Christmas card, on Flickr

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