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w/e 2020-02-16

The trouble with writing bits of these weeknotes during the week, so that I don’t have to write everything at the weekend, is that by the time I open the notes at the weekend I think, “what a load of rubbish”. Hello! Welcome!

§   Like the rest of the country we’ve had a lot of wind and rain but, despite parts of Herefordshire and south Wales being underwater, we’ve done OK. We’re towards the top of a hill so just see a stream of water running down the road outside, towards the bit of road a mile downhill that’s flooded.

§   At the end of last week my left knee started hurting. Was it due to running? This Monday I ran again, having almost got to the end of Couch to 5K, and after the 20 minutes of running, yes, the pain was due to running. So that’s that for running then, at least for a while. Fear of damaging my knees was a main reason I used to go swimming instead – I’ve never injured myself by swimming.

So this week I’ve been limping around and feeling some empathy with the limping sheep in the field over the road who hobbles around, always some distance behind the rest of the oblivious flock. Out loud I call her Hopalong but in my head I have named her Metaphor.

§   Our electric mouse trap showed initial promise, zapping one mouse only hours after we had set it up. But there’s at least one more kitchen mouse who is obviously more au fait with the latest technologies and has so far avoided it.

§   Two minor migraines this week, which is better than the previous week’s bad spend-a-day-in-bed migraine. When I have a minor one, which just puts me under the weather for a few hours until the medication kicks in, I sometimes try to find the ideal TV watching. Something interesting but not too loud, fast or demanding. Like daytime TV but not actual daytime TV, because, well, my brain is still at least partially functioning.

YouTube is very useful. Today I gave up on my first episode of Epicurious which was unbearably exhausting. What’s the rush? Why all the cutting? Fully Charged’s Madde Goes Electric was also too much: way too wide-eyed and overly excited. Primitive Technology is great: slow, quiet, interesting, no rush. And Matt’s Off-Road Recovery is, aside from the occasionally headache-unfriendly, necessarily bumpy footage, also good: people calmly working out how to rescue a stuck vehicle. To be honest I could just watch the dashcam view of them driving through Utah, never mind the rescues themselves.

§   I finished reading William Gibson’s Agency. I think my fiction-reading habit – a few minutes a night before sleep – doesn’t really work with books that tend towards “thriller”. Any pace is lost on me. I realised part-way through this that I had no idea what all these many people, across three timelines, were trying to achieve. It seemed very important but I had no idea what the urgency was about any more.

But I am enjoying Ben Brown’s newsletter about objects in Agency.

§   My reading generally has suffered recently. I haven’t read a non-fiction book since [checks records] last August. I’m still reading a London Review of Books from October. But I’m still reading. Screen Time on my iPad shows this from the past week:

There’s probably not much of that I regret but it’s still more than two full working days on “keeping up with things”.

§   I wonder if Money Stuff will ever have a story as fun (for outside observers) as WeWork was but this bit about Zume, “the startup that was going to have robots make pizzas in delivery trucks”, and raised $375 million from SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund, before getting out of the robot pizza business, is a nice summary of today’s [waves hands] vaguely-techology-related business world:

Just, what a closed loop it is. You run a pizza delivery business. You craft a pitch calculated to convince Masayoshi Son that your pizza delivery business will change the world. You meet with Masayoshi Son. He convinces you that you will change the world. Now you are all believers, all in it together. He hands you piles of money. You go home and weep to your friends, “I am going to change the world.” The friends are like “wait what with the pizzas?” But it is too late for skepticism, you have the money, the robots are in the trucks, they are fanning out across town, the cheese is everywhere, they cannot turn back.

§   This week we watched the second and final season of The Knick, Steven Soderbergh’s 1900s New York, hospital-based drama. It was still good but… somehow not very gripping. Lots of stuff happens but it all feels a bit like a diagram, a bit too distant and uninvolving. Is some of that due to the staid 1900 manners? I don’t know. But I still like Cliff Martinez’s electronic score, emphasising how modern the age feels to some of its inhabitants, and Chris Sullivan’s growling rogue of an ambulance driver who brings all his scenes alive.

§   We also got round to watching the final episode of The Trial of Christine Keeler. It was very good but, while it was all quite fun when it started (what larks!), it became increasingly grim and depressing as the story progressed (unsurprisingly). But if you want to see lots of terrible men behaving terribly in a lovely 1960s style, there you go.

§   That’s all. Have a good week. Try to stay dry. Careful with your knees.

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