Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Adventure Starts Here

After spending the last couple of weeks tinkering with the blog, I finally feel like it's at a point where it's "good to go". You can subscribe by email, follow it on Twitter and BlogLovin, grab the RSS feed, respond to posts via Disqus... pretty much all the things you would expect to be able to do with a blog really. It's funny, because when I rebooted the blog, I imagined becoming an internet recluse of sorts - just posting my thoughts on a little known island in a quiet tributary of the vast social internet river. Over the last 24 hours I've done a complete about-face.

Anyway... what's going in my world?

There is an hour of Sunday morning left. The washing machine and dryer are rumbling away somewhere else in the house on their second load of the day, and the radiators throughout the house have various sports kit and bed-sheets hanging from them. Whenever the machinery falls silent I wander back through the house, re-loading, re-filling, and/or folding the endless mountain of clothes, sheets, and towels. I'm not even attempting to marry-up the socks.

I'm starting to stress about work over the next couple of weeks - I don't so much have a mountain to climb, as a vertical cliff. I don't think anybody else connected with the project appreciates the scale or complexity of any of it, and imagines I will just wave a magic wand as per normal. They never figure out that waving that wand means busting your ass into the early hours night after night.

Oh - nearly forgot. I un-friended a huge number of people on Facebook last night. I guess you might call it "cleaning house". The vast majority were not friends anyway - they were people I had crossed paths with on the internet over the years, and added on Facebook purely because "that's what you did". A lot of us discovered each other through Tumblr, but given that most have shut down their Tumblr accounts some time ago, it seemed like it was time. Truth be told, I rarely use Facebook anyway, so I'm guessing very few will notice my disappearance.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment at the corner shop to acquire some teabags, and a packet of cookies. I may be some time.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Disqus and Twitter

I decided to ditch the built-in Blogger commenting system, and installed Disqus. Quite apart from Disqus having all sorts of toys for me to play with, it means you will get an email notification if I reply to your comment - so you don't need to look back at the blog to find out. I also switched on "guest comments", so you should find a little tick box if you don't want to authenticate yourself with any of the available options.

I've also created a Twitter account for the blog, announcing new posts. Feel free to follow it - it's quite predictably @telespoke. I will of course follow you back :)


While wandering through town early this morning on a mission to complete a number of random errands, I began noticing the many and various strangers crossing my path.

The two trophy moms, stopped in the middle of the footpath, discussing the benefits of giving birth in hospital versus attempting a home-birth. They both wore close fitting striped woollen tops, had perfect leather handbags dangling from their shoulders, and jeans that may have been new this week. Neither had a hair out of place, and one of them wore enormous sunglasses. Their makeup was immaculate too - I wondered if they were just out to be seen, rather than to actually achieve anything.

The father and daughter cycling on footpaths all over town. He was dressed in that curious "too old to be a hipster, but trying very hard" way that Dads so often do. He had no bike helmet, but his daughter did. He seemed to have no problem at all cycling among the pedestrians even though there was little traffic around - which caused me to become silently furious. Oh how I wished a policeman might walk around a corner and fine him heavily.

The entire cafe full of pretty people. The cafe started out as an artisan bakery and delicatessen last year, and was quickly seized upon by the local glitterati as "the place to meet". Now things have calmed down a bit, it is permanently filled with either wealthy retired people, or childless twenty-something couples with labradors and retrievers tied to the railings outside. The windows of the cafe are permanently steamed up - no doubt as a result of the breathless conversations going on inside about skiing holidays, and new cars.

The early-twenty-something walking a few steps ahead of me on the way home. I loath attaching the "Hipster" label to him, but he was trying so hard, it would seem unfair not to award it. I'm not sure if it was the scruffy beard, the side parted hair, the skin tight jeans, the loafers with no socks, or the Apple Watch hanging from his wrist. Perhaps it was a combination of everything.

As I wandered the last half mile back towards home, I wondered how other people see me. A hassled Dad, wearing whichever clothes were clean after dragging himself through the shower this morning. No time or money to sit in a cafe and laugh the day away. Always going somewhere to get something for somebody, or to do something for somebody else. I wondered if my invisibility on the bicycle I commute to work on extends to crowds in town too.

Sometimes I wonder if invisibility might actually be easier than being ignored.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Missing a Day

Well of course I didn't "miss a day". I didn't lose a day. Thursday happened. I just didn't post anything yesterday - mainly because if you're a software developer, now and again you actually have to do some software developing (who knew?), and that generally entails sitting in front of a computer for many hours consecutively, secretly wishing you had taken up an alternative career.

I'm joking of course. I've heard people draw parallels between all sorts of brainiac jobs in the past, and they always seem to mention the "losing track of time" aspect - that you can become so engrossed in your work that you shut everything else out. I know - I've done it. You get to a point late in the afternoon, or evening, where you you start to shake, and wonder "why's that happening" - then you remember that you made a lunch at 7:30am that's still sitting in your bag, festering away.

I can't begin to count the number of cups of coffee I typically drink during a working day. It's too many. Some people have mentioned in the past that they cannot drink coffee in the evening because they will not be able to sleep. I think that's rubbish. I can drink coffee just before going to bed, and still flake out within minutes of sliding under the covers. Maybe the colossal caffeine intake over the years has made me immune ?

I could really do with a colossal bar of chocolate. A part of my brain is whispering that the service station just down the road often sells enormous bars of chocolate at a discount. The service station will be open. No. No, I will not go. I am stronger than that. This is where my psyche splits into two opposing factions, and I start talking to myself like Gollum.

"You knows you wants the Chocolate. You could get us some if you just walked up the road."

"No. Don't listen to us. We will just get fat and spotty. And then nobody will like us."

"But some people does like us. And they is wonderful."

"Lies. Nobody likes us because we sits staring at computers all day and doesn't get out. We has no friends"

... and so it goes on (probably).

Anyway. I might just go and make myself a coffee. I've been drinking wine all evening, and if I drink another glass, there's a greater than average risk that I'll switch into "speak your mind" mode, and either profess my undying love for somebody (probably the person selling chocolate at the service station), or my hatred of all project managers in the known universe.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017


I hit the ground running this morning, and started the programming for a new project. I completely lost track of time, and before I knew it there was only an hour or so of the day remaining. I had a goal in mind - something I wanted to get working before the day ended, but didn't quite get there. It's still annoying me now.

After a slow cycle home with a headlight on the fritz, I tumbled in the back door to a wall of children telling me all at once that there were ready-meals lined up on the kitchen counter for them to eat for dinner, which dinner was for which person, and that my other half was at a school thing. The kitchen was trashed, the living room was trashed, and there were coats, bags, and shoes thrown all over the hallway floor. I very nearly lost the plot.

An hour and a half later I had fed everybody, washed up, cleared the house up, and sat down to eat my own dinner. While eating, I questioned the kids on what they had done since they got in. I also presented evidence that Miss 12 had been stealing money from the penny jar at home, and buying chocolate on her way home from school. She stormed off, telling me that I was "having a go at her". Guilty as charged then.

It's now half past nine. The kids are back from an after-school club, my other half is back, and there are running arguments upstairs about anything they can think up that might result in not going to bed just yet, because you absolutely need to go and shout something at your sister.

Thank the maker for the internet, and a place to escape in plain sight. I don't think I've appreciated being able to jump down the internet rabbit hole as much as I have in the last few days in quite some time.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Back to Work

I returned to the office today after the better part of six weeks either travelling around the country, or sick at home. I will admit to a certain amount of dread when opening my email - I thought I got off remarkably lightly - I only had a couple of emails to actively respond to - the rest were from the resident office geeks, nerding out about a new phone system.

The rest of the day was a write-off. I spent the entire morning sitting in a conference room talking through the project I will be working on for the next several weeks, and then much of the afternoon in a conference call with the client, talking about all the same things again. At some point I'll start actually working on the project, rather than talking about it endlessly (snore).

Thank the maker for mobile phones, and a wonderful friend that randomly started messaging me while I tried to stay awake. She may never know how valued our inane conversation about nothing at all actually was.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Haircuts and Days Off

I had a day of leave booked today, so took the opportunity to get my hair cut. I also took the snap decision to get my hair cut somewhere completely different than normal, and it was... interesting.

I seem to have a peculiar skill that involves strangers starting off by making conversation with me, and then volunteering the entire contents of their head and heart. The tall attractive lady cutting my hair told me all about her struggles with her son while leaning all over me with the scissors.

Here's the thing. When you're kind of trapped in a chair with an attractive woman leaning all over you with a very sharp pair of scissors, and you notice in the mirror that her crotch is getting remarkably close to your elbow, what do you do? I stayed absolutely still. I think I may have even stopped breathing for a time.

I'm not quite sure how I find myself in these situations. Perhaps they don't even exist. It's a little like the movie "Billy Liar", where Tom Courtney imagines the next few seconds of everyday scenes in his life unfolding far more spectacularly than boring reality. I don't think I'll try to imagine any more of the scene I found myself in though...
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