Week 13

What happened this week?

It was a bit rainy. Riding on a slightly leaky bus, I witnessed a war of attrition: a passenger closed the windows, then shortly later the driver leapt from his cab and reopened them, then another passenger upon boarding re-closed at least one window. I feel like the saga was more interesting at the time – maybe the cycle repeated more times? – hmm.

The rain also contributed to my doing some work – well, I had a burst of productivity on Monday. How can I put this? I changed some things. Only one or two people have complained about the differentness, which has to count as a resounding success.


An email arrived from a scumbag recruitment consultant – probably in breach of data protection regulations, but am no a grass. Recently, some of these emails have been actually interesting, or at least entertaining insights into the crazy world of blockchain snake oil, but this one wasn’t. An extract:

Skills/Experience Required

(Love the random uppercase letters. Sometimes it’s endearing, like when Winnie-the-Pooh does it, but sometimes it isn’t.)

“CLITORIS”? The spotted hyena has a particularly large one, but there’s no relevant buzzword by that name. Perhaps the job advert was a bit like the “get me off your fucking mailing list” academic paper – but designed to expose lazy recruiters, not academic journals.

Returning to the email later, I found the last item in the list had changed to “ITIL” (a real soul-destroying–looking thing I’d had the good fortune never to have heard of before). But that’s impossible – emails are immutable.

It turns out that just before the first reading I’d read an email written in Polish, with the help of the machine translation feature of my favourite web browser. The translation switch had remained switched on, and had translated that word from Indonesian. Apparently, information technology service management boffins are well aware of the phenomenon, and it impedes searching Twitter for tweets about it.


I passed a – by which I mean my – driving test. Which is nice. But cars are Tory.


A photograph I took appeared in Coach & Bus Week, which has to be the highlight of both my week and career. I crouched in a provincial branch of WHSmith, but couldn’t find a copy. On the way home, I saw another steam train – I may have looked at a PDF timetable beforehand, although I didn’t quite understand it. Two men who like trains were perched precariously some way away either side of me, and no doubt they saw many more trains that day – I was just interested in obtaining content for my vacuous 1 Second Everyday video diary – I am not like those men.

Week 12

This week, I most enjoyed the plosive sound of lifting an AeroPress coffee plunger from off of a wet granite surface.

I did some work. Colouring in – by which I mean data entry, to make all the oblongs on the map the same colours as the actual vehicles they represent – continues to be a strong absorber of time, a Sisyphian task, so I’m so grateful to the salt-of-the-earth correspondents who notice when their local omnibuses have been repainted. I also made some automated tests faster – “almost twice as fast” as before – which is always nice.

I wheeled my bicycle across a heath at what just happened to be the right time to see a steam train. I only saw it from afar because some men who like trains were standing in wait, and one dislikes what one most resembles.

We saw Chernobyl. It was good fun identifying Finchy from off of The Office and Lane Pryce from off of Mad Men and DI Brandyce from off of Line of Duty. I was reminded of the weak, peurile sixth form joke punchline “Chernobyl fall off”, which is actually funnier than the correct “fall out”.

’s week

Monday

Impressed by regional news’s (“the news where you are”) commitment to metaphors, going to a seaside fairground to illustrate “the political merry-go-round”.

Tuesday

The Earl Grey and English breakfast tea yoghurt pots run out of teabags on the same day. They don’t get used at the same rate, so this is outstanding and rare, like a solar eclipse.

For the avoidance of confusion, there’s no actual yoghurt involved, it’s just that an empty, clean 500g yoghurt pot makes a reasonable container for teabags. But I suppose you could make a barely credible tzatziki1 by combining the contents of a herbal teabag with some yoghurt. If you were a monster.

Wednesday

(A brief departure from the present tense.) I’m not sure what happened on Wednesday. I did a lot of work – to wit, fixed most of a what had been a head-scratching bug before breakfast – so I wonder if it was raining.

Thursday

See an aeroplane and some horses.

Friday

The RHLSTP episode with Joel Dommett went to to the back of the queue, for the pathetic reason that I’d never heard of the famous comedian, but it turns out to be one of the more entertaining ones. Most impactfully, Dommett shares a tip about whooshing – I want to say squeegeeing, but without a squeegee – water from off of one’s legs at the end of a shower. It really relieves a lot of the work of the towel.

Sunday

The victorious Liverpool FC parade around Liverpool. It’s important to note the identity of the three open-top double-decker buses used – LJ58 AVG/K and LJ09 KRG, Wright Gemini 2 hybrid electrics, most recently in service with Crosville Motor Services until that Weston-super-Mare operator’s demise. I wonder who their current owner is.


  1. I was going to say raita, but, no, I mean tzatziki. 

Week notes: disappointing crab sandwich

I’ve discussed this phenomenon before, but I return to it because it’s just so damn true: all my most vivid memories of “this week” are from towards the end of it.

What happened at the beginning? I think we removed a stove – now it’s resting incongruously outside the front door – it would be fun if the Google Street View car could drive past while it’s still there.

At the weekend, in preparation for the eventual stove successor, a man visited from either the distribution network operator or Électricité de France – I like to imagine a lazy stereotype with a hooped top and onions, or remember the bit in Linda Smith’s A Brief History of Timewasting where the English National Opera are supplying gas.


I voted again. You do not need a poll card to vote, so I leave it at home, lest anyone think I think I need a poll card to vote, or think they need a poll card to vote. But last time there was some protracted Kafkaesque business as the officials searched for my address in their list. This time, it wasn’t so bad, but still I really ought to make their jobs easier by bringing my poll card. Next time.

I rewarded myself for voting by standing in a field with my bicycle in a ditch, to make a photographic image of a bus. The bus that appeared was less interesting than I’d hoped, so I didn’t bother. Transport Designed thrillingly used another of my pictures this week – it’s a hollow victory as there are better alternatives available from other people, which show off the refinement of Southwold and things, but only mine happens to be permissively licenced.


I had a pleasant wander around the seaside, and a disappointing crab sandwich, and added some benches to Open Benches. And why not?

Week notes: shiny metal balls

This week, I have had a cold. Some of the symptoms of a cold are also symptoms of hayfever, so it’s impossible to tell what’s what, but, either way, woe unto me.


One of my bicycle pedals has been unedifyingly stiff for a while. This week, I finally decided to act: removed the dust cap with some difficulty, took the thing apart, discovered the whole amazing world of ball bearings and grease inside, cleaned and inspected the shiny metal balls, smeared new grease in the relevant places, put it back together. I’m trying to convince myself that the pedal now spins with a glorious efficiency, putting its mate the other pedal on the bike to shame, but there’s a lingering doubt that it’s changed at all.


I haven’t been watching The Looming Tower, but I understand that it’s good, and I’ve been in the same room as a television showing it. The characters keep taking about “the bureau”, and all I can think of is “I’m closing the bureau… for an hour.”


The disgraced magazine Businessweek had an interview with the chief of WeWork, one of the bellwethers of the next economic crisis. I haven’t read it, but some people on Twitter poked fun at bloke’s highfalutin language:

at WeWork it's not profit, its "community-adjusted Ebitda." And it's not breakfast its "breaking my fast" https://t.co/ZWOA4YKGgI pic.twitter.com/MgkBD4oEnI

— Max Chafkin (@chafkin) 15 May 2019

But is that that alternative to the word “breakfast” really that bad? It does smell a bit like “methinks” – yuck – but really? Maybe it’s a Britishism. Wiktionary has some examples from Walter Scott and George Bernard Shaw. But I suppose neither of them used “community-adjusted EBITDA”.

Week notes

The “volume up” button on my information pad stopped working. Given the recklessness of watching TV in the bath, it was bound to happen sooner or later. It died doing what it loved – increasing the volume. In fact, on the final day it started doing so unbidden, so I’m relieved that the eventual failure mode was inertia, not perpetually increasing the volume. Now I can still adjust the volume – by touching the screen – which is a bit “like an animal”, but I can be a grown-up and cope with the inconvenience.

Not much litter around the territory lately. Perhaps it’s hidden by the newly vigorous growth of vegetation, or perhaps it supports the “broken windows theory” – that visible signs of “crime” encourage more crime, and ergo a lack of visible signs of fly-tipping, for example, discourages fly-tipping. Speaking of visible signs, instead I scraped a thick layer of dirt from a road sign, and propped up another that was resting face-down in some grass – perhaps that’s what I do now.

I did some work. Performance enhancements. How satisfying. Datadog fantastically useful.

Week notes: 100 miles

“The quantified self” is shit, but still I take a keen interest in, mostly, how far and fast I’ve ridden my bicycle. The noted truck simulator driver Limmy this week flirted with the idea of bicycling 100 miles per week, before bottling it and downgrading it to 10 miles per weekday. Pfft! This week, not including some “utility cycling” when I forgot to twiddle with my silly digital watch to make it record the activity, I rode for 100 miles. Last year, it seems this was a regular occurrence, but it’s the most prolific week I’ve recorded so far this year.

Caring about this stuff is somehow acceptable, but there are some things I’m diametrically opposed to. Riding a stationary, indoor “exercise bike”, for example (even though I tried it once and it was a bit fun).

The Trashfuture podcast is slightly irritating, and sometimes has inconsequential inaccuracies about things like the name of a tinned pie brand or the details of concessionary travel passes in Kent, but I was pleased that one of the targets of their lampooning this week was an company that makes a deluxe internet-connected stationary bicycle.

There are some particularly weird things about the Peloton Interactive, Inc – they’re highly valued, and one of their key innovations is offering interest-free loans – but I’m just unreasonably irked by anything like a big hamster wheel. It’s far better to be outside, in the rain, inhaling hydrocarbon fumes, maybe incorporating some other economic activity. For example, my bicycling this week meant I got to eat a smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich and see a steam train.

Living my best life.


Some local elections happened. In voting for local councillor, it’s difficult to say anything very nuanced about breakfast or anything. According to local press, our victorious local candidate’s top priority is preventing the erection of mobile phone masts, whereas the chap I voted for thinks affordable housing is more important. (Get you a man that can do both!) But apparently I was sending a message about breakfast. Ugh.

Week notes

This week, I have dealt with a backlog of emails. By “dealt with”, I sometimes mean “deleted” or “archived”, not “replied to”. I didn’t use to understand the plight of people who get lots of emails, but now I do. I don’t even get that many emails, but, now that the novelty of getting emails has worn off, it’s so easy to let the backlog pile up.

For various reasons, some of the emails are like, “What times are the buses on Easter Sunday?” Over the years, I’ve tried to refine the main source of emails to discourage certain kinds of email I usually can’t answer satisfactorily, but not enough to discourage some. Now, I don’t hold much truck with the idea of a “guilty pleasure” – stop being guilty about what gives you pleasure! – but realising “oh dear, I didn’t reply to this email in time” and binning it is some arsehole behaviour I’m guilty of.

Meanwhile, I have sent some emails to some people, and I’m slightly agitated that I haven’t had a reply yet.


Some people have observed something about YouTube’s “recommendations” feature: “How YouTube Built a Radicalization Machine for the Far-Right”, “YouTube Is Full of Easy-to-Find Neo-Nazi Propaganda”, “However extreme your views, you’re never hardcore enough for YouTube”. I, too, found that after I watched a wholesome and right-on video, something of the ilk of a the constipated lobster guy would auto-play afterwards.

Then I discovered a slightly hidden button labelled “Not interested”.

The eagle eyed will notice that the “Not interested” button there is attached to a lovely compilation of Bob Mortimer’s appearances on the televised parlour game Would I Lie To You?, in which I am not not interested. I couldn’t find any examples of actual Nazis for the screenshot, because one small nudge was all it took for the mighty algorithm to buck its ideas up and stop trying to radicalise me.

Now some of the recommended videos now have titles conforming to an irritating formula, like “David Mitchell HATES the Fondue!!”. Still, it’s all very jolly, and I didn’t even get to the bit with David Mitchell or the fondue.

Week notes: Thurrock

Thurrock

This week, for various reasons, I spent two nights in a liminal small town/large village in Thurrock. My reason for visiting was a short meeting on one of the many industrial estates – hardly befitting such a long stay – and there’s only so much psychogeographic walking past margarine factories one can do, so I spent some of a day in London, where I rode on one of Lime’s electric bicycles – much recommended – and some buses – very on-brand.

Later, back in my lodgings in Thurrock, I realised I’d squandered a golden opportunity to experience Hammersmith Bridge – which is closed to motor vehicles – and to rebel against extinction. Oh well.

In the latest Adam Buxton Podcast episode (recorded last year but released this week), David Mitchell suggests that one obstacle to environmental campaigners being taken seriously is that some of the campaigners are luddites who would be opposed to private transport, etc even if they weren’t environmentally damaging. I feel like that’s just the sort of opinion columnists like Mitchell have to make up to a deadline for an amusing column in the Observer, but let’s pretend to make it seriously for a moment.

In a typical article, the purple-faced Telegraph writes: “But while [ace exponent of the Extinction Rebellion movement] Mr Boardman-Pattinson rallies against climate change, he has taken at least three skiing holidays in recent years, and has posed for photographs in front of the leaning tower of Pisa. He was unavailable for comment.” If David Mitchell is correct, the fact that Boardman-Pattinson has been an enthusiast of air travel means his concern about imminent disaster should be taken more seriously: he’d love to be on another aeroplane to Pisa, but instead he’s campaigning, just because he’s rightly alarmed that we’re doomed and governments aren’t doing much about it.


On the way home, I enjoyed an episode of 99% Invisible – which, foolishly, I’ve not listened to much before – which reminded me a bit of something I covered here once. Apparently the episode was a “crossover” with the critically acclaimed Reply All, which evidently is another podcast I ought to enjoy.

Week notes

What happened this week?

I’ve been avoiding the ongoing news shitshow to a some extent. To be precise, to such an extent that it took me until this week to start worrying that my hair might look a bit like a mixture of that of some dishonourable scrotes – Martin or Hoey, I’m thinking of. This week, the penny dropped, so I cut my hair – my own hair, myself, using an electric thingie.

Now my head is more aerodynamic. Maybe there are some tufts around the back, but it would be impossible to tell without rigging up a system of mirrors, and “out of sight, out of mind”. None of the people who’ve stood behind me have mentioned any tufts, and I’m sure they weren’t just being polite.

I’d said “avoiding”, but I made an exception for Giles Wemmbley Hogg Goes Off… Article 50, my cultural highlight of the week. It’s OK.

I did some bits of work. One of the bits was trying to draw more accurately wiggly maps of bus routes, after some surly complaints about the current jaggedy ones. There’s a handy tool I started to use to match thinly dispersed coordinates to roads, but it smartassedly avoids bus lanes – with only law-abiding motor cars in mind – which is the opposite of what I want to do. So I’ll have to try something else. Cool story.