We took our daughter to the play-park beside our house and met our plumber there.  He got the job of plumbing our house during the remodel and made a really good job of it.  Well, he was fine, but his workers left leaks in 3 of the 4 bathrooms and one under a floorboard somewhere.  Anyway, he fixed all of that and we were happy with him.  He was carrying his baby son and a little girl was milling around him and his wife.  Except it wasn't his wife and I started to recall that he had sons and no daughters.  He awkwardly introduced his wife as his partner and that was when the penny dropped.  He was also out, with the lady and kids, in his work van on a Sunday.  Clearly a change had been made.

My head hurt afterwards thinking about it.  Years ago, I wouldn't have blinked at people leaving their spouses and hitching up with someone else.  That all changes when you have kids of your own.  Suddenly the impact of that change takes on an entirely new gravity.  Kids growing up without a parent there every day.  Houses being split, maintenance payments - cost, misery and a lifetime of grief.  Add to that the fact that your new squeeze probably has kids, with an ex-partner who will be on the scene forever and all the issues with your kids and their kids and that weird dynamic.

I'm not saying people don't slip up - it happens, but to follow through and split up - that's a huge deal.  I think I'll stay here and deal with marital reality.  I haven't the optimism or fortitude to be doing anything other than that.  Good luck, plumber.

Its Friday morning and, as is usually the case, I'm sitting in my office.  My last meeting ended at 11pm last night and my first one started at 9am this morning, but I'm in fine form this morning.  Nobody has booked time with me until after lunchtime and I have the odd luxury of breathing out.  I've spent 15 minutes looking at cars online and its been enough to sicken me.  I like the thought of a new Land Rover Defender, but I'm told the build quality is awful and spending close to £100k on a car would always cause me to wince every time I would see it sitting depreciating in the driveway while I work at home.

Imagine taking your £100k car to any carpark anywhere.  I would be trying to find a spot far from everyone else so that they don't hit my overpriced bucket with their doors.  I'll admit I do something like this already - I'll try to find an end spot in a row of parking bays or I'll park beside expensive cars with the mind that they're going to be more careful than someone driving an old banger.

My most carefree years were spent driving old bangers.  I drove them because that was all I could afford and it was liberating.  I once bought a Vauxhall Astra for £1,650 and drove it for more than 3 years before selling it on for £800.  I did not care if people bounced bricks off the roof of it.  As long as it got me from A to B, and the stereo worked, then I was happy.

I agreed with a friend recently that, as you gain more money, you very quickly become good at spending it.  Does it make you happier though?  "Yes" is the honest answer, but it brings with it different stresses.  Mo' money mo' problems as the song rightly muses.

It is a very nice-looking car

 

Its late on Christmas Eve.  I only remembered about Warped because it is Christmas Eve and it popped into my mind that I used to leave Christmas messages here late on Christmas Eve.  So here I am, wishing you a happy Christmas.

What's going on with me? A lot since I last wrote here - a house renovation and extension, a 2 year old daughter who is growing like a mushroom and forgets nothing; who looks like her daddy and acts up as badly.  Work. Work. Work.  All consuming, gruelling yet addictive, destructive yet constructive.  I have been broken down and rebuilt many times.  I've become a better boss than I could have ever imagined yet I am reminded daily of my shortcomings... and been able to see past them.

Merry Christmas to you.  I hope life is treating you well and I hope you are happy.

I can understand why Jeff Bezos is rich enough that he can pay for a rocket-ship to be built so he can travel to the fringes of outer space.  Almost everyone uses Amazon and we've all reached the point where, if we're not offered next day delivery, we're disappointed and impatient.

Weirdly, I don't want anything from Amazon or from Ebay, or from anywhere else.  I have too much stuff already and I get no buzz from ordering more.  This is probably the first time in my life where I'm not excited by the thought of a new computer.  The eight or nine computers I currently have are fine and fit for purpose.  This laptop I am currently typing on is seven years old and I still count it new-ish in terms of specification and performance (granted it did cost over a thousand pounds when new).

The problem with wanting new stuff is that it's never long until the new stuff isn't new anymore and we're looking for the next fix.  My brother is like that with cars - when he takes the notion for a new car then he can't wait for one.  He has to make the change as quickly as possible.  I don't want a new car.  I bought well when I purchased my last yoke and I'll keep it until it starts to give trouble.

What I want isn't stuff - its peace.  I would love the universe to give my head peace for just a single day.  Right now, even as I type this, there are two workmen who randomly appeared to put new windows in my garage.  They complained, to one another, about there being "stuff" in the way, but they didn't tell me they were coming, so I didn't move the "stuff" so they have to suck it up.  I wish, in their process of sucking it up, they wouldn't keep watching me through my office window whilst cursing about the window frame having to be "millimetrically f***** perfect".

Just one day of peace - Garvagh-esque peace when I would spend long, quiet evenings in my little computer room.  Those were the days.

I wouldn't say I was this bad, but definitely close.

Do you remember flip phones?  There was a stage, prior to touchscreen smartphones, when phones were made to be increasingly small and the best you could hope for was polyphonic ringtones and a colour screen.  How far we've come - my latest phone has 12Gb of main memory whereas this laptop has 8Gb of memory.  There is also more storage space on my phone than there is in this laptop.  Phones have become integral to our lives and the last thing we use them for is making phone calls.

Have we come too far though?  I find myself scrolling through YouTube shorts, which are basically TikTok videos, where people act as if they're not being filmed and then something mad happens.  Millions of people, all around the world, are spending hours every day watching this kind of dross on their phones.  I've also witnessed sagely advice in videos, from what not to eat to how to make your car run better.  Sometimes I buy into the advice and then, at some point, I give myself a shake and ask "why are you listening to some randomer on the Internet?".

We probably peaked, technology-wise, in about 2010.  It was useful without taking over our lives.  YouTube was filled with videos but it didn't intrude so much in our lives.  Twitter wasn't the monster it is now, there was no Instragram and everyone was posting pictures of their cats on Facebook without the virtue signalling and attention-seeking its a home for now.  Your phone wasn't tracking every single thing you say or do and you weren't getting targeted ads as a result.

I'm now going to say "new BMW 5 series" into my phone for maybe 5 times a day to see if an ad for a new BMW 5 series eventually appears.

It looks like its angrily squinting

Its Monday morning and its the longest day of the year.  The sun is shining and there are little birds darting, from tree to tree, across the unblemished blue sky.  I'm looking out at it all from my study while the fan on my laptop whirrs and the sound of yet another arriving email leads me to release a resigned sigh.

Somewhere, someone has it all worked out.  It will be a person who is an expert in something, where they can charge huge amounts for doing something that almost nobody else can do.  This means they don't have to do it very often and they get to spend the longest, potentially sunniest days of the year, not answering emails, badgering staff or preparing for meetings.

My job has become more than a job; it now factors in every moment of my waking life - or at least if would if I let it.  I'm now trying to find ways to deal with people and sort things out while I do other things like walking, shopping, coffee-shopping, etc.

My grandfather was great at fitting in tea breaks.  He used to work at people's houses and they would always offer him tea.  He would never refuse.  My memory is sketchy, but I seem to recall working with him, when I was very young, and we had three tea breaks at three different houses over the course of a day - with our own lunch squeezed in as well.  Maybe he had it worked out.  Maybe its short blasts of work between tea breaks and gossiping.  I just need to find someone to gossip to now!

Really milky tea.  All those people made us really milky tea.

I've fallen back in love with ebay.  I used to buy bits and pieces on it, back when I was working on my PhD, and when I started my business.  Basically, I bought stuff on ebay when I was watching my bank balance and when I had time on my hands.

Times have changed.  I have no need to watch my bank balance, but I had no time recently, what with my job and the house getting reworked and extended.  My major part in the house situation (i.e. getting us moved out before the builders knocked through from the old part to the new) ended last week.  Since then I've been bidding on mad stuff on ebay.  It's mostly been vintage computer parts, but I find myself looking more and more at outlandish purchases.

I would love a brown 1985 Volvo estate; one with a roof rack.  I would have it restored mechanically, but with the bodywork left looking tired.  I would add some fluffy dice to the rear-view mirror and two stickers to the tailgate - an REO Speedwagon logo and a sticker that says "My other car is the Batmobile".  Of course I wouldn't really buy an old Volvo - I have enough to focus on with an old BMW, but I do like the idea of commuting in a time warp car.

Not that I commute anymore.  I really don't miss it and I'm glad that, post Covid, I doubt I'll be joining the masses on the motorway very often.  I must be one of the few people that Covid has worked out for.  I don't particularly want to socialise with colleagues, I hate commuting and I achieve more at home.  Besides, 94% of my staff aren't in this country so there's little point going in to work.  If I did, I would love it to be in a battered 1980s Volvo.

This is perfect.