I don't know where tonight has gone.  The last I looked it was 6pm and suddenly its sufficiently dark that the screen of this laptop is lighting the room.  Maybe that's a sign I should turn the brightness down.  I tend to have the brightness turned up full on phones, tablets and laptops.  I don't think it does me any harm because I still don't need glasses, but it is painful if I wake up in the dead of night and look at my phone.  What seems normal at all other times suddenly feels like its so bright it's going to give me a tan.

I don't know of anyone who cares about a tan anymore.  When you're in your twenties, and everyone you're friendly with is young, then tanning is looked upon favourably; especially by women.  Now, that we're all a bit older, I think the view is that tanning accelerates the process of wrinkling so it's best to avoid excesses of sunlight.  I imagine most tans come from bottles for the ladies entering their middle years.

I found that, after shaving my head, I had an odd situation to deal with when it came to tanning.  My head had never felt the raw power of the sun beating down upon it before and it had no tolerance for it.  My face tanned and my head burnt.  Even now, many years later, I have a weird tan line where my hairline used to be.  I'll either had to accept it or ask a middle-aged lady which colour of bronzer to slap on my naked nut.

I've been working up to sixteen hour days lately.  Part of this was because of lock-down, not having nursery to send my little ball of energy to, and because my team is global and has a high workload.

I'm proud of my guys because they're excellent, but I do have to keep a focus on everything that comes our way because I can't be having high-profile mistakes.  The standards are high, the team is getting a lot of recognition, and I can't let anyone slack off.  Excellence has to be the minimum standard.

Anyway, this means long hours for a while, which takes its toll.  My left eye began to constantly twitch lately and I'd become irritable.  I took a few days off work and spent a good portion of the time sleeping.  My eye is now twitching less and I'm not so grumpy anymore.

Another bold move was to delete Facebook from my phone.  The app was murdering my battery, but it was also murdering my free time.  I was reading more nonsense, and watching more stupid videos, than I ever have before.  I've also freed myself from the mind-numbing rubbish people post to either self-promote or to gets sympathy "Likes".

I'm of an age where I can no longer consider myself an early adopter of technologies - I stick to what I know.  I'm sure, though, that Facebook has peaked a long time ago and is in a steady decline.  The young'uns are all TikTok'ing and SnapChatting.  I would imagine those apps are huge timewasters as well.

I don't remember the last time we stayed in our caravan in Portrush as a family.  This is odd because I remember the finer details about most things.  Its not important that I don't remember the last time, but it is curious for me because, at the time, I didn't know it would be the last time.  Circumstances conspired in such a way that we never went back again as a family.  I think this is mostly because I outgrew the holidays and stopped going long before my parents stopped going.  I do remember a video of me visiting my parents in Portrush when I was nineteen and by that time I was long past going with them.

Its not often that we know that the last time is in deed the last time, unless its something formal like leaving a job or moving out of a house.  I knew when it was my last time in my house in Garvagh and I walked through it and videoed it how it was before I left.  I can't say I ever watched the video afterwards, but it was clearly the end of chapter.

Its good to not look back too much.  Too much reminiscing keeps us bound to the sweet melancholy of the past and it robs us of the present.  The past is gone.  You'll have an eternity to remember it when you're dead

I find it funny when people try to impress others by being up really early and appearing active.  If you're up early its because, by the law of averages, you go to bed earlier than someone who gets later.  You're just operating on a slightly different timing - it doesn't mean you're superman or superwoman.  If you're going to bed later and getting up early, on a regular basis, then you're just stupid and it will catch up with you.  The flesh is weak.

I'm up really early recently, which means I'm knackered by 8:30 pm.  COVID-19 means no nursery for Jessica, which means we have to manage full time jobs and an 11 month old child.  This means I look after her until midday and then work until 8 pm every night.  It suits work well because my managers are in the west coast of the USA and two of my team are there as well.  It doesn't suit my team members in China and Singapore, though, and I'm neglecting them a little at the moment.

So life is different now and it is hard to know when everything will return to normal.  I went to get groceries today and it was the first time I'd driven anywhere in weeks.  I miss normality - going to work, coffee shops, driving.  Its weird that I don't miss people.  I wonder if other people are missing other people.

Bella died tonight.  This evening, she was acting strange, sprawled out under a radiator and panting a lot.  I called the out-of-hours vets and they told me to bring her in.  I left her there and the vet called me later to say she was being treated but that her blood-work indicated a toxin.  They strongly suspected she'd licked or drank anti-freeze somewhere.  Half an hour later the same vet called to tell me she had died.

I am completely devastated because she was sort of like a child of mine.  I would have thought of her like a child, until I actually had a child, and its not the same; but losing her hurts a lot.  I had been thinking about her mortality a lot over the past few days and I wonder if I somehow sensed this coming.

Death is hard to accept.  Its difficult to accept that a loved one, even if its a pet, is gone and you'll never see them again.  The worst part about death, and this isn't obvious, is that it makes us stop living properly.  We focus on the loss, and the potential for loss, instead of celebrating the life.  Anger at loss, and fear of it, and cynicism because of it, robs us of our own lives.

My biggest challenge, at this point of my life, is to not succumb to cynicism.  I don't want to become jaded and defeated because I've somehow avoided it up until now.  So many of the people around me have lost their shine.  Its evident in the workplace, in my personal relationships - even on Facebook.  My beloved Bella is gone and far too soon.  I am sore about it, but I'm happy I had her.  I'm happy she was there for close to seven years and I don't have a single regret about picking her up from the manure in the farm yard, as a tiny kitten, and bringing her home with me.

Its 10:30 pm on the 31st of December 2019.  Only 90 minutes of this decade remains and I am indifferent to its passing.  I have never been able to understand the fascination, or the emotion, associated with dates changing.  Any significant change in tomorrow, when compared with today, will have nothing to do with the fact that its 2020 and no longer 2019.

What we can use the change in dates for is to have a quantifiable frame of reference for the passing of time.  My life was much different ten years ago from what it is today.  I was still working on my PhD a decade ago, I was living alone in Garvagh and my relationship status would have been best described as "complicated".  Now I am married, with a child, in my own home and with a good career.  Things are still fairly mad though.  I don't think life ever gets to a point where all of the madness has completely gone out of it.

So its 10:30 pm and I'm in bed in a spare room.  Everyone in the house is sick with a bug we picked up over Christmas.  Jennifer's family all fly home for Christmas, through busy airports and on cramped planes, everyone spends days out shopping in busy towns, and we all get to share the bugs each of us might pick up.  There's nothing that can be done about it - its that time of year.  So we're all sick and in bed because Jessica, being ill and also because she's cutting a front tooth, can wake at any time and needs attention.  Someone has to do the night shift and someone has to do the post 5 am shift.  Its a temporary situation because she normally sleeps really well and I would rather this was happening now than when we're back at work and she's back to nursery.

I'm not going to wish you a happy new year.  Not because I don't wish you well, but because I only ever wished people a happy new year because it seemed to be an odd social convention.  Your life won't improve because the number of the year has changed.  We can't build our future happiness on luck, blind hope or divine intervention.  Sometimes bad luck does befall us, but generally, the state of our lives is a result of the choices we made and the planning, and action, we took.  Luck is made, more often than not.  Make 2020 a good year.

My grandfather died on the sofa, in his home, as he was talking to an old friend who had come to visit.  We knew he didn't have long left, because he'd been having issues and the doctors had said his heart was badly damaged after a number of heart attacks.  He didn't know he'd had heart attacks and I'm not sure that he knew the end was nigh.  Anyway, he died on the sofa with just my 77 year old grandmother and his old friend present.

I went to the house that night.  I was on my last shift as a delivery driver for a Chinese takeaway and about to start a new job as research associate at university.  The final shift ended early and I drove to my grandparents' house.  He was still lying on the sofa at that point, although the undertaker had arranged to lift his body.  I can remember, after the body was gone, that although the house was crowded, nobody would sit on the sofa.  I was the first to sit on it because I reasoned it was going to have to happen sooner or later.

To die suddenly on your sofa, mid conversation with an old friend, with your wife there, your family raised and your life lived - I can't think of a better way to go.  I used to be freaked out about it, but now I can see how he was actually lucky.

Reaching 42 and having all your teeth still intact and still white is also good.  Years ago I took them for granted.  The point is, perspectives change with time, age and experience.  You can have a good quality of life or a bad one.  Similarly, death can be kind or cruel to you.

Take nothing for granted.