This is the first weeknote of the year, so there’s not much to update you on in terms of what I’ve been working on this week. I only got back to things on Thursday and Friday, and they were mostly getting-back-up-to-speed kind of days.

Instead, I’ll give a quick update of what’s been happening in my life since Weeknote 48/2018, posted at the end of November. Having December off social media is lovely and, although I’d miss it if I gave it up completely, made for a relaxed end of the year. As online social tools mature, it’s possible to plot them, as I did last year, on two spectra, giving four quadrants. What that means in practice for me is that I can press pause on contributing to spaces such as Twitter and Mastodon, but still interact with my work colleagues via Telegram and friends via Slack.

My last day at work ended up being Thursday 20th December, as I had a funeral to attend on the Friday followed by my 38th birthday on the Saturday. The run-up to Christmas ended up being quite dramatic, what with the hastily-arranged funeral, a birthday, and then — in the early hours of December 23rd — a fracas in the quiet neighbourhood in which we live. That particular episode involved me going out in my pyjamas, coat, and running trainers to try and stop a (drunk) man giving his (even more drunk) partner more than a broken nose. I tried to shelter her behind the wall to the rear of our house, and was thankful when my neighbour, who I subsequently found out had been a prison officer for 20 years, came to my assistance. Two police cars, an ambulance, and a witness statement later, and all that was left to do was scrub blood off my house at 2am…

After a very enjoyable Christmas Eve with friends in the morning and my parents in the afternoon, we spent Christmas Day as just the four of us. We had a great time and, because we weren’t supposed to be anywhere or do anything other than church in the morning, it was super-relaxed. Last year, because I’d only recently become pescetarian, I agreed to “not be awkward” and to eat meat on Christmas Day. This year, however, I had nut roast, meaning I went the entirety of 2018 without eating meat. It’s much easier to do these days, and veganism (which I’m not planning to switch to) is definitely going to be even more of a thing in 2019.

After Christmas, we spent almost a week travelling to, staying in, and travelling back from Devon. As we live in Northumberland, it’s almost the furthest journey you can make within England. Previously, we’ve made that journey within a day, but it’s no fun; you feel like you’re wasting a day spending 7.5 hours in the car. So, instead, we did what we’ve done in previous years, stopping in a hotel half-way down. This time, we stayed at Hilton East Midlands Airport both on the way down and the way back up, which was was exactly what we needed: it was cheap, there was hardly anyone staying there, and it had both a swimming pool and separate beds for the kids.

In Devon itself, we no longer stay with the in-laws, but instead reside in a curious timber-built two-level house built by friends of theirs. It gives us a lot more freedom to come and go, and split our time between my wife’s parents and her sister’s family. It was good for our children to spend time with their cousins, and we went on plenty of walks given the weather was so reasonable. New Year’s Eve was spent, like last year, at my sister-in-law’s and I possibly drank a little too much. I know I couldn’t drive the next morning as I’d have been still over the limit. We had a great time though!

Once we’d made our way back home, I was back to work for two days. Thankfully, I’d deleted Telegram from my phone, which is an app that Moodle uses (much) more than email for internal communication. So after posting a 2018 retrospective on my last working day before Christmas, I tried not to think much about all of the stuff we’ve got to do before launching the pilot of MoodleNet in a few weeks’ time!

This weekend, the children are staying over at my parents while my wife and I conduct a financial review. Now that we’re not moving to Barcelona, we’ve got some decisions to make about where we live locally (stick or twist?) and how soon we’d like to aim to pay off our mortgage. Our children are going to turn 12 and eight, respectively, this month, which means it’s a mere six years before our eldest could decide to head off to university.

There’s plenty to look forward to in 2019 for me and my family. My wife’s not working at the moment, and still deciding to what extent she wants to. I say ‘not working’, but I mean in terms of a regular job. For my consultancy and the co-op of which I’m part, she does the book-keeping, organises travel, and generally keeps me sane. I work from home, so I’m grateful that she’s able to tolerate me for extended periods of time!

I’ll be back to the usual format of weeknote from next week, and I’ve already started posting to the Thought Shrapnel blog. While I’m backing up my photos before Flickr deletes them, I think I’ll probably purge some of my blogs as well, linking to archive.org versions of my posts from my wiki. There’s no real need for me to have more than this blog for my personal updates, Thought Shrapnel for reflecting on what I read, and my wiki for everything else.

I hope you have a happy and healthy 2019. I know that’s what I’m aiming for.


Image: around 25 years ago, my sister bought me a mobile featuring a number of what we’ve always called ‘pterodactyls’. I’ve had them up everywhere I’ve lived, and they’re taken down once a year for a careful dusting. I suspect they’re actually cranes.