Week 38

What happened this week?

Some work. Needing a break from other kinds of work, I did some of my tax return, which was just the break I needed.

Retrospective review of the year (and decade) type things have started to appear, which makes me angrier than the Hulk as there’s still most of this month left. Still, I found my Spotify “Decade Wrapped” mildly diverting, and Kicks Condor’s list of hyperlinks of the decade, and the latest 52 things Tom Whitwell has learned (in fewer than 52 weeks).

A spontaneous trip to our nation’s capital, where I saw some sort of intergalactic jazz.

In the process of trying to obtain some disposable cutlery with which to eat a cupful of hot gravy, mashed potatoes and sausages, I bought a sachet of descaler, with which I later descaled the kettle. And now the inside of the kettle is wonderfully shiny – highly recommended.

One of my cultural highlights of the week was Limmy pointing out the strange on-stage antics of Samuel T. Herring of Future Islands. Actually, the whole band look preternaturally unstylish, which is rather admirable.

Week 37

We rejoin the action in Scotland. A a day of unnecessary travel. Travel broadens the mind. Then back southwards on the Caledonian Sleeper, the overnight train run by Serco, who do such a good job of running prisons and maintaining military bases. I’d read BusAndTrainUser’s posts about the introduction of sumptuous new carriages earlier this year, which has been beset by problems. Curious to see how things were going a few months later, I’d booked a fancy club room for an OK price.

Alas, there was one problem: the service had to start from Motherwell, not Glasgow, so we all boarded two hours later than we might have otherwise. Thanks to the wonderful boffins of the RailUK Forums, I learn that it’s all because the manoeuvring the carriages to start at Glasgow uses two locomotives, and the new sleeper carriages use recherché couplers so you can’t just use any spare loco if some of the locos are poorly (as they were this time).

Apart from that, it was fine. I had a cold shower – I’m sure there’s supposed to be hot water, but I didn’t want to harass the overworked crew, and don’t cold showers have all the health benefits? Like whisky, it’s the sort of thing you hear of nonagenarians attributing their long lives to – and some high quality sleep, and a tasty breakfast, and we arrived in London half an hour early. There were some coathangers in my little room, and while breakfasting I was generously offered a refill of tea, so at least two of BusAndTrainUser’s suggestions have been addressed.


Some work. The website was being slow again, and I realised I hadn’t set Gunicorn’s threads setting to anything, so I set it to something (2 × the machine’s number of cores), which seems to have helped, but it’s made me realise I’ve not been measuring stuff in such a way that I could tell. Cool story.


Put the winter front tyre on the bicycle – a bloody palaver, and the ice had melted by the time I’d finished. Winter!


Hearing reports that the Queen has died, which is huge if true. The banter quotient strikes again.

Week 36

I’ve been enjoying the back catalogue of the Off Menu podcast while bicycle riding. One thing about it is that the adverts, most of which are performed by hosts Gamble and Acaster, are almost not annoying – I only have to fast-forward when I’ve heard a particular one several times. (The dynamically inserted nature of them means that if I’d started listening earlier, I’d have enjoyed a wider variety of them, not just the few currently in the inventory.) But I noticed that an advert paid for by the Lamb Marketing Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board appeared alongside a podcast guest effusing about some cooked lamb meat, while I was looking at a field of sheep – too creepy to be a mere coincidence‽

I finished the week inexplicably in Glasgow for a few days, after a jolly multimodal journey involving a few hours in Peterborough, where I took the opportunity to buy some ajvar, which is my favourite Balkan condiment.

Glasgow. I can report that a CitizenM hotel is OK:

One of the things I did was watch a pair of live RHLSTPs, which was jolly enough. I had foolishly chosen a seat very high in the room, such that the faraway stage looked very small, but after the fright of seeing Johnson’s blotchy cheeks on the television earlier perhaps it was for the best. Herring didn’t wear his usual stripy jumper during the first week’s podcast, but I shouldn’t have worried as he was wearing it for the second.


It’s wild that the manufacturer of the Scottish soft drink (like “the Scottish play”), Irn Bru, is called AG Barr, and the US Attorney General William Barr is frequently called AG Barr in headlines and things (“AG Barr orders reinstatement of the federal death penalty”).

Since when has the beleaguered restaurant chain PizzaExpress been PizzaExpress, not Pizza Express‽ Since forever, apparently, which shook me and I think is an example of the Mandela effect.

Week 35

What happened this week?

I did some work. Made some stuff faster – the latency graphs of Datadog continue to be satisfying. Had another outage, which was caused entirely by my ignoring the database server disk running out of space.

I cut my hair – almost almost cut my hair, like David Crosby or something, but then actually cut my hair – which I mention only because it’s somehow useful for me to be able to check back to see how long I’ve gone between haircuts.


Am I a liberal? Actually, some of my views are really quite extreme. Nationalising part of BT seems fair enough – I’ve mentioned here before the van-driving technicians, with their little folding stools, who spraypaint interrobangs on the road. As there were no topical satire programmes programmes broadcast on TV this Friday, maybe there’s still time to be the first to pretend to wonder what this means for the actors from off of the television adverts, ha ha ha – Kris Marshall stopped appearing in them in 2011, but I suppose that’s still a sort of joke they could say on the Now Show.


It’s nice that there’s now a good Apple laptop again. I’ve only listened to one (1) podcast about it, because come on.

I have one of the last good ones. It went through a phase of getting unaccountably warm and kernel panicking, and of course there was last week’s MagSafe realated injury, but my position has long remained that you’ll have to prise it from my cold dead hands. It hasn’t badly disgraced itself for a while – as if it’s conscious of the now credible threat of being replaced – so that remains my position. If circumstances change and I have to start using Slack (the famously computationally intensive messaging product) again, I expect that to change.


I received another free pair of socks. (Identical to, and from the same source as one of the pairs from last month.) Extraordinary.

Week 34

What happened this week?

Barefooted, I started to step on a MagSafe connector, which is not as bad as a Lego brick or a three-pin plug but still not very nice to step on, so I sacrificially fell over, arse about tit (“fell down”, “ate shit” for North American readers) to avoid hurting my foot. I was quite sweaty for a bit – an adrenaline rush – who needs skydiving? – and now I have a bruised knee like some kind of small child.

I also have a bit of a cold. Woe unto me.

I did some work. Made some graphs using D3.js, which passed the time, before deciding that I didn’t need the graphs, but maybe the real graphs were the friends we made along the way.

The general election campaign is happening. Hoping to find out about the local candidates, I found myself looking at a local newspaper website, where mainly I learned that Phil off EastEnders (Steve off Coldwar Steve) had been to a local seaside chip shop, and was reminded about the trope of seemingly deliberately vague headlines, e.g. “Bin bags of cannabis fly-tipped in village” – of course you click to find out which village it is, and are disappointed when it’s one in a faraway part of the region, but I suppose it all helps to add pence to the advertising revenue and delay the struggling media organisations’ descent into financial ruin. Never mind – one of the candidates got cancelled for something terrible he said in the past, which made the national news.

Next week, I’d like to make more things happen to me.

Week 33

Week 32

Week 31

Monday: the Queen’s Speech. Lots of the media suddenly using the word “flummery”, as if that’s a normal word people use. There’s some evidence that that usage isn’t completely new, including a 1998 letter about Her Maj’s Gracious Address, so fair enough I suppose. Wikipedia is mostly concerned with various kinds of stodgy pudding called flummery, but also asserts boldly: “The word has also been used […] as a minced oath in certain online social groups.” Which social groups?


The shower head had become clogged, such that the jets of water jetted out of it in all different directions. Taking it apart and just rinsing it in water got rid of a surprising amount of deposits, and now, after a soak in distilled malt vinegar, the spurts all go in one direction – brilliant – but they also seem a bit wimpy and flaccid. Is this because the holes are bigger? Is that how water pressure works? Hmm.


Some work. I deployed all of the big and grand new stuff I’ve written so far. Last week, I finished my stuff that converts timetable data from ATCO-CIF and TransXChange formats (for Northern Ireland and Great Britain respectively) into a nice consistent GTFS-ish structure in the database. Now, I have some timetables, all lists of departures, and other things using that database – previously, they used all different weird shit. I was slightly concerned that the new departure lists were much slower, but that was solved by fiddling until the Django database-abstraction API produced some SQL more closely resembling what I’d write if I were writing the SQL myself. Cool story.


Richard Osman’s House of Games is an entertaining television programme. Perhaps having seen or heard some contestant or other mention being tired after recording a week of programmes, I imagined some gruelling physical challenges, but the titular games are in fact all cerebral. Lots of the back catalogue has been uploaded to YouTube (in a high quality fashion) by a pirate, which is nice.

I also caught up with Osman’s The Birthday Game podcast, another gentle parlour game where three mostly comedians guess the ages of names from the week’s “today’s birthdays” lists. I’m slightly concerned that a contestant could cheat (in the way that revising for anything is cheating) by consulting something like Wikipedia’s days of the year category beforehand, but perhaps the producers prevent this by recording weeks in advance and not telling contestants which week their episode will be released (i.e. which week of celebrity birthdays to memorise).

Week 30

One day this week, I received a free pair of socks. The next day, I received another, completely unrelated free pair of socks. Quite remarkable, and to think I’ve always had to buy socks before now. Is this what it’s like to be an influencer? Everything else that happened this week seems rather dull by comparison.

I did some work. Got down to fewer than 200 pending vehicle edits. And then I spent a little time focusing on my big and grand rewriting of some stuff, and then suddenly there were hundreds more edits waiting for me to check. Which is a wonderful problem to have, and I’m very grateful to the enthusiastic fellows. It’s just that there are so many buses and coaches.

The approval process is necessary, because some joker keeps marking some buses as ice cream vans, and I don’t always agree with the punctuation choices of even well-meaning enthusiastic fellows. I could make my job easier by letting people log in, or recording people’s IP addresses, allowing me to identify trustworthy people’s user accounts or IP addresses, but … GDPR.

The big and grand project is all bleeding coming together. I’ve deployed a bit of the new stuff, which caused just the right amount of brokenness (enough to provide me with some learnings, but no more than my users are accustomed to), and helped me to fix a problem involving certain places (e.g. Whitley Bay) where, like the Bermuda Triangle (actually more like the Mapimí Silent Zone) buses would vanish from the map.

Against all advice, I installed macOS Catalina, which is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:

Still watching The Simpsons, which is still great. Managed only a bit of Danny Dyer gameshow The Wall – Dyer is, of course, tremendous, but, ugh, the contestants are all members of the public, and aren’t the public dire? With their dowdy faces and skin and hair and clothes. Ugh.

Week 29

What happened this week?

I did some work. Sorry if this is overly technical, but I’m changing some stuff to make it less shit, which feels like a rather big and grand job. It’s necessary to force myself not to make it too much better in one go, so that I can replace the old shit with the new shit more gradually. If I get ahead of myself, it could become too much like replacing the engines of an aeroplane in midflight. (It’s nothing like that. It’s just a website.)

Some bicycling around. Took some poor photographs of buses, which were made up for by the chance to record some benches, and the pleasantness of bicycling around. Today it has rained prolongedly, and roads have flooded in several places, and what fun it was to splash through puddles ten or so centimetres deep. I saw some ducks.

I’ve been watching The Simpsons, which is terrific fun. The first three series, which I guess were the start of the golden age, are on the likes of iTunes. When Walter Disney’s streaming service launches, apparently it will have every episode ever, so maybe I’ll be persuaded to pay Walter Disney some money for that. (Also this week, I enjoyed this bit of Winnie-the-Pooh, but amazing as it is I’m not sure one would want to sit through a whole film or programme.)

Stewart Lee appeared on the Book Shambles podcast, which is my cultural highlight of the week. They mention the William Blake exhibition, which constitutes a helpful reminder to go and see it. We have until the start of February.