In lieu of anything interesting to say, here's a special little treat for those week notes readers: a very painful, slow, video of me playing Sea of Theives' Becalmed on concertina. To watch it back is how I imagine it feels to watch a sheep in a nativity play forget their lines.
Partially recording it so the historians have interesting material for when I'm hailed as the greatest concertina player of all time.
It's 2021 and my 500th week living in the wonderful US of A, and this week we had an attempted coup! What more could I ask for to celebrate this wonderful round number.
The week was somewhat of a write-off. Who can do anything productive when there are lunatics threatening the consitutional electoral process with violence? Alex and I declared Wednesday a Snow Coup Day and stayed glued to the live feed, and then stayed up late to see the electoral vote count get finalised.
Other than that basic threat to democracy, I don't have much else to report.
Replied to a couple of work emails, but not a lot else on the capitalism side of things. I never really talk about my jobs, because it's always felt too personal. So much about "doing the work" is the relationships that get built with the people you're working with (or for) that it doesn't seem quite correct to talk about it publicly. I might try and talk more abstractly about the things I'm learning and seeing more in future though, because it is a big part of what I'm doing in any given week. I'm a bit of a fan of the way that Tom code-names projects, so maybe I'll borrow that idea.
I'm very slowly working on learning Twinkle Twinkle on the concertina. I mostly don't understand how my two hands will ever learn to push different buttons at different intervals, but I'm assured it's just practice and they'll get it eventually. I'm trying to keep in mind that I can touch type, and this is largely the same skillset. Just a new layout and cadence, right?
As many people have pointed out, January 1st won't see things suddenly be much better, but I am glad to see the back of 2020.
The election back in November was a huge relief, although I continue to be stunned that MIL truly and deeply believes the election was fraudulent and it's all a cunning ploy to lead the US into communism.
I'm excited about the vaccine news - I know it'll be a long time until I'm in a group that will get it, but it's the first glimmer of hope that I might get to come home sometime in 2021. I haven't seen my family for 18 months, now.
Because I'm homesick, we had a "British" Christmas dinner this year. A non-animal protein for me, chicken for Alex, then roasted carrots, parsnips, cabbage, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and gravy. Sticky-toffee pudding and custard for dessert.
Alex hadn't had Yorkshire pudding before? He put BUTTER on his like it was bread? He doesn't like gravy? You can marry a person, be stuck in a house with them 24/7 in a pandemic for a year, and still not really understand them.
We didn't do Christmas presents. We sort of stopped that in our second year. We do tend to buy for ourselves something frivilous that one doesn't really need, instead; I bought myself a Hayden duet concertina.
I can play London Bridge and the first part of Becalmed (from the Sea of Thieves game soundtrack). I'm mostly interested in dirges.
The most fun I've been having is still co-op online games with the Dusties. We recently started playing Red Dead Online, which is free if you have RDR2 (or $5 standalone), and although it's obviously meant to entice you to buy the "gold" for upgrades, we play the free content to the max.
The best bit, though, and the part that's had me laughing so hard my chest hurts is when we get bored of running missions and devolve into what we call "purge time", turn on friendly-fire and just go to town. "Dynamite only" rounds or knife-fights. If that was all the game was, I think we'd still enjoy it.
I hyped myself up for Cyberpunk 2077 and it was so incredibly disappointing. I got it for PC, and my gaming laptop is basically brand-new, so it looked fantastic. Unfornately, it's an incredibly shallow game, more akin to Deus Ex than Witcher 3 (the latter is what I had been expecting). I asked for a refund (I bought direct from GOG) but I'm still waiting.
I finished my GoodReads reading challenge, but sort of feel like I cheated by getting in quite a few short stories.
Skipped September's update because it could loosely just be summarised with "everything was on fire".
It's one thing to be in shelter-in-place but still able to take pleasant walks, but it's a whole new hellscape when the air is full of particulate and the sun is literally being blocked by the clouds of ash that were once people's homes.
It was a tough month.
In more cheerful news, we did take a trip out of the house during a brief window of clear air for Alex's birthday. We stayed in an airbnb for 3 nights that just looked kinda cool from the listing, but turned out to be quite famous.
While staying in the spaceship house, I took my HAM radio technician's license exam and passed that. Since then, I've acquired a decent radio and joined a couple of nets. Much of the experience so far is 100% the stereotype you're imagining. It's great!
I finished the Udemy Japanese N5 course, hoping to take the exam this December, but unfortunately they've cancelled all outside-Japan exams until December 2021. Completely deflating. I don't know how to keep up progress on this without a fixed goal.
Nearly finished a couple of oil paintings. I'm so slow.
Buggered up my hip due to a combination of seasonal-change arthritis flare-up plus bursitis from a sudden spurt of activity after doing none. Having no routine that takes me outside is really affecting. Canes are cool though, right?
Dana and I have picked back up a self-directed ikebana practice, since we still can't meet as a group and it's not looking like we will again until late next year. We arrange outside, which is going to be an issue once SF's rainy season starts.
It occurs to me that if you think the USA has behaved like a screaming toddler during covid in the summer, just you wait until it's too cold to go outside.
I got a flu jab.
An email I just got from my dad, apropos of absolutely nothing:
"The next dogs to go into space were Belka ("Squirrel") and Strelka ("Little Arrow"), which took place on Aug. 19th, 1960, as part of the Sputnik-5 mission. The two dogs were accompanied by a grey rabbit, 42 mice, 2 rats, flies, and several plants and fungi, and all spent a day in orbit before returning safely to Earth."
It's extra appealing right now to want to log anything when it feels like I'm doing absoluely nothing.
Once upon a time, I used to log movie reviews on Mike Stenhouse'soo5, but once he retired that I never replaced it with anything, but I've found that letterboxd is scratching that itch nicely. I miss going to Alamo Drafthouse (very strict no-talking, no-phone rules, table service snacks, no ads) in the middle of the day.
I've had a Goodreads account for a long time, but my kindle reading has gone up significantly since I got the library card. Also, I discovered the goodreads native app has a book scanner, so I went to town in a fit of boredom with the bookshelves here and discovered a few paperbacks I haven't actually read yet languishing under a layer of dust.
I've on and off complained about not being able to find a todo list that works with my brain, but Todoist seems to be the first one that's finally stuck. I've been filling it with really mundane things like "water the garden" or "launder the bedsheets", but it's been useful for feeling useful. I sync it up with my calendar to make my days look a bit less empty.
I think that's all the new logging I'm doing. I made two swarm checkins this month! A real busy one. What a whirlwind.
We've been very cautiously trying some socialising with Matt and Dana, who we consider our "bubble family" since we we've sort of been in each others' space since the pandemic started (literally since the shared airbnb in Kyoto in February) and we had them over for backyard lunch a couple weekends ago. I think they're the first people to be in the house since Jake stayed in January, well before lockdown.
I stopped drinking at the start of lockdown and have been getting into non-alcoholic IPAs. There's a trend right now, I think partially because nerds my age have realised their bodies can't keep up with craft beers anymore, of "good" breweries making low-to-no-alcohol beers that taste interesting! I've had some from Athletic Brewing Co., Mikkeler and Hairless Dog. All good fun.
Progress updates on end-of-the-world hobbies:
I'm a week out from finishing the Udemy JLPT N5 course, then I'll be on revision until I can get the exam booked.
I can successfully pick 2 and 3 pin locks!
Read a very good guide on the HAM Technician license and am doing the hamstudy.org flashcards until I hit proficiency and then I should be good to take the exam.