Open Thinkering


Weeknote 01/2023

Collage made up of images taken from issues of The Guardian Weekly in 2022. The text says "Civilization is Sinking".

I’m composing this post on my laptop while sitting on the chair in the corner of our dining room. The rain is lashing off the Velux windows in the kitchen. Our son is at the other side of the room, using the computer which sits on a shelf I installed during lockdown in the recess to the side of the chimney breast. He’ll turn 16 this month and has important exams this year, so he’s revising. It’s the weekend and he’s got a basketball tournament this afternoon, so he wants to get his revision done — not necessarily because he’s conscientious, but (I suspect) because he wants to be allowed on the PlayStation later today.

After a break from these weeknotes, and social media, and work, it’s slowly back to normal Chez Belshaw. Hannah returned to work for two days this week. I go back on Monday. The kids are at school on Tuesday, due to a teacher training day. The Christmas decorations are packed away, team sports have resumed, and life goes on. Our daughter played her first game for Newcastle United’s Emerging Talent Centre (ETC) yesterday, scoring a goal and being awarded Player of the Match. You can say what you like about youth sports, but football in particular provides a particularly strong bond for Team Belshaw.

I’ve been fighting off a cold for the past few days. Hannah’s had it longer and worse than me, but it’s just made me feel achey and tired this week. I managed an episode of Andor‘s worth of time on the exercise bike at the gym yesterday, taking it very easy. But thanks to a combination of accidentally sleeping with my contact lenses in, and having a disturbed night’s sleep, I actually feel worse today.

One of the things I did this morning which brought me some joy was to pop in the (wired) earbuds of my newly-upgraded iPod Classic. I’ve still a few tweaks to make to it, including replacing the front casing, but I’m delighted that I’ve managed to create something that I can use very intentionally in specific situations. This morning, it was to listen to the audiobook of Life on Earth by David Attenborough. While we’ve become used to using smartphones for everything, there’s definitely something to be said for single-purpose devices that do one thing incredibly well. And the sound quality? Superb.

One odd thing that I realised this week was that, while I’ve bestowed 1 Terabyte of storage (i.e. 1024 Gigabytes) on my iPod, the refurbished Mac Studio I purchased came with only half that capacity. I’m yet to put it through its paces; I was really pleased with the M1 Mac Mini I bought last year, but occasionally strained its limits, particularly on the memory front. It’s not that I do hardcore video editing, but rather that I want my primary machine to not cause me any frustration. To that end, I’ve also reconfigured my home network (again!) so that I can connect the Mac Studio to our mesh network via wifi, and to a 5G router by ethernet.

I had such plans for this holiday period! I was going to play the entirety of the story mode of Red Dead Redemption 2, do some DIY, and read all of the things. Instead, I’ve drunk a fair quantity of alcohol, made a collage (see the top of this post), and written a 2022 retrospective. I also did a quick roundup of podcasts I’ve appeared on recently. But most of what’s been valuable over the last three weeks has been intangible: spending lots of time with my kids, playing games; sleeping in and taking a very long time to get ready in the morning; tinkering about with random stuff because I was not quite bored but idle enough to be curious about things around me that I usually don’t bother with.

For Christmas, kind of as-requested, my wife bought me a guidebook to The Pennine Way, which is a 268-mile walk from Edale in Yorkshire, up to Kirk Yetholm, just inside Scotland. I did part of it, unintentionally, with Aaron (as detailed in Weeknote 49/2022) and he’s potentially accompanying me for at least part of the route. I also did the very start of it with Bryan just before Christmas, as we walked from Edale up to the edge of Kinder Scout. One of the photos from that walk is featured in the December part of last year’s retro. I’ve pencilled in two weeks to get it done in April which quite frankly scares me given that’s only about 12 weeks away and I’m currently a bit ill.

Next week, as I said above, I’m back to work. The week after, WAO is meeting up in-person all together for the first time in ages at a place just north of Amsterdam. I am very much looking forward to this.

Although it’s kind of bollocks, Team Belshaw did a personality types quiz while out for coffee and cake last week, and my type (INTJ aka The Architect) was listed as ‘socially clueless’. So I’ll be spending this year trying to be less so, I guess. As ever.

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