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w/e 2020-01-12

Back to work on Job Garden for some of this week. Around work we’re still sorting out and reorganising all the stuff in this house.

§   The 4G internet is OK so far although it does vary a lot. At one time we’ll get 25Mb/s down and another much, much less. One time it was 0.1Mb/s with a ping time of several seconds. We have met some people from a mile or so up the road who get 30Mb/s broadband but we aren’t blessed with such delights, with broadband checker sites offering us only the possibilities of 1-3Mb/s.

I do keep losing things in the house. After living in the same flat in London for 15 years everything had a place. I knew where to put things and where to find things. Coupled with being me being a pretty organised sort I very rarely lost anything. On the rare occasions I did it was like the laws of logic and physics had come to an end. “If my keys aren’t in my pocket or their pot then… there’s no where else they could possibly exist!”

Now we have a bigger place, no established systems for where to keep things, and keep moving stuff around as we reorganise, so I’m often wandering from room to room looking for my scarf or my phone. Yes, I realise that “Our new house has too many rooms and so I keep losing my diamond shoes” isn’t a real problem.

Sometimes I wonder what we’re doing here in (relatively) the middle of nowhere, seeing few people, close to few things, but that feeling does disappear when I go for a run in the sun surrounded by trees and fields. I see lots of birds but other than the ones from well-known brands (robins, pheasants, etc.) I’m not very good at recognising them yet. From my office window I’ve seen what the internet tells me is a possibly young pied wagtail who seemed very lively.

On days when I don’t run or go for a long walk I’ve been trying out the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout app which is pretty good. Clean graphic design (monochrome plus red), a good mix of exercises that require no equipment except a chair, and a bare minimum of unbearable encouragement: only a single “Put the pedal to the metal!” type exhortation each 7-minute cycle. Probably not usable if you have downstairs neighbours however.

We also picked up our new-to-us car this week and today I had my first drive of it, in the twilight along country roads, and it all went fine. Owning (half) a car feels very odd to me but I keep telling myself how normal it is, and that all this will seem more normal at some point.

§   I’m currently reading The Idiot by Elif Batuman which is fine and occasionally has some lovely thoughts. Here the narrator is looking out at the Musée d’Orsay:

I went onto the balcony, lit a cigarette, and looked at the museum, wondering whether it would still be there in a thousand years. When would it not be there anymore?

Back when I was doing futures stuff (20 years in the past!) I found it useful, when thinking about something that could happen, to work backwards to see what would be necessary for that situation to come about. For example, imagining a world in which no one ate meat, what kind of events would have to happen between now and then for that to be a reality? Are they likely? Possible? Can we see any signs of the first necessary steps now?

Anyway, I don’t think I’d thought about seemingly (but not) permanent things like, say, west European museums and imagined a future in which they didn’t exist. When would it be? Why would they no longer exist, as an entity and a building? What would have happened?

§   This week we watched the two-part Storyville documentary Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle which, as you might imagine, starts off all a bit weird and ends horrifically. The shock of the horrific-ness – even when you know roughly what happens – is undercut a little by the unnecessary introductory section of the programmes that shows images of the aftermath. Why show spoilers for your own programme?! But even so. Weak strong men are the worst aren’t they.

Unfortunately one mystery went entirely unexamined: why did the documentary makers stretch all the archive footage to the wrong aspect ratio? Maybe we’ll never know. Future generations will not only wonder why the people filmed in silent movies could move so quickly but why all the people filmed in the second half of the 20th century were so fat.

§   That’s it for this week. I guess we’re all going ahead with this 2020 thing so good luck with it. You can do it.

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