Week 18

What happened this week?

I finished watching all of Friends for the first time, which lots of us (for whom it’s slightly before our time) were doing at the start of last year when it first appeared on the internet site Netflix. According to media reports, we were all outraged and offended by some of the outrageous and offensive old-fashioned attitudes present, but should I be concerned that that passed me by? Either I’m a dinosaur, or I was able to appreciate it in the context of the less enlightened late 90s.

It’s been an entertaining journey, with some demonstrations of the Baader–Meinhof effect along the way. Now I feel a bit out of sorts, like there’s no television left. Perhaps I’ll read a book.

I woke bleary-eyed on Saturday morning to an outage that was all my fault. It’s not very interesting.

The evening before, I’d decided to delete some old data to make room, because who needs to know historic locations of buses further back than a month or so? But the first database query I tried to do so was suboptimal – it was still running in the morning, to the detriment of everything else, even preventing me from logging in to halt the query‽ It was all OK by lunchtime, because I am such a talented problem solver, but now I feel a bit grumpy about Digital Ocean’s managed database product which I use, although I didn’t deign to ask their probably excellent support staff for help, and I still fully intend to keep paying them what feels like a lot of money.

The main thing is: oh drat these computers, they’re so naughty and so complex, I could pinch them.

Week 17

What happened this week?

I did some work, some of which was deep and meaningful.

I tackled a problem I’d been putting off tackling for three years (!), according to the age of the relevant GitHub issue. Now, finally, for example, passengers between Bristol and Nailsea can consult a single timetable, whereas previously the information was thoughtlessly divided among three different ones. Maybe I should be embarrassed that fixing this felt like such an epic task, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Now I simply need to identify automatically all the other similarly split timetables.

I did some other work too, but it’s probably all a bit boring, isn’t it? The main changes that went noticed were some more buses suddenly materialising on the live map, which like the best kind of changes required between no and hardly any effort from me.

I bought a jacket, the colour of which felt a tiny bit thrillingly ill-advised but for all I know might just as well have been perfectly respectable, which I wore at a lovely function, where I ate a quantity of strawberries that was closer to being thrilling.

For the past day or so I’ve been all “Michael, Michael and his slipper tree, slipper tree, slipper tree, brand new shoes for you and me.” Interestingly, the etymology of “earworm” is not very simple, possibly involving earwigs, ears of corn, worms, and human ears. I was a bit concerned that, for evolutionary reasons, you might not enjoy any mention of creepy insects – I’m sorry if this is the case.

Week 16

Writing about last week, inevitably I forgot to write about something or other. L’esprit de l’escalier, sort of.

Writing about the industrial designer Sir Jony Ive, who had been in the news, John Gruber wrote:

Fuck this “sir” shit. We don’t have titles in the United States.

John O’Nolan wrote:

“Fuck all cultures that aren’t like ours” is such a quintessentially American trope, to the point where even @gruber is only 2 steps removed from chanting “USA” and crushing a Budweiser can on his forehead.

PS. Jony Ive, the person with the title, is from the United Kingdom.

Which rankled a bit, because not everyone in this kingdom is all deferential and obsessed with orders of chivalry and stuff, you know. Some people turn down honours. Sir Jony is a “Knight Commander or the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire” – the nonexistent British Empire. So I don’t say “fuck this ‘fuck this “sir” shit’ shit”.

Some weeks have passed since the first fly of the summer. I have been successful in squashing, with my bare hands, a lot of them so far this year – am I getting quicker, or are the flies getting dopier?

On Sunday, some happy time was spent passenging on some classic/heritage/vintage buses and coaches. Only three – if only I’d woken earlier and braved the damp conditions on the Saturday as well – but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Reassuringly, all were older than me, although one came close.

Week 15

What happened this week?

I did some bicycling – 112 miles over the course of the week, ooh. As I must have explained before, finite battery life and sometimes forgetting to use the app mean the real figure is higher, but sometimes accidentally leaving the app running means the real figure is also a bit lower.

In a tale as old as time, I set off to photograph some buses diverted along an unusually narrow and scenic road, only to find that the diversion had finished thanks to some especially efficient workers. Never mind – it was an intrinsically pleasant bicycle ride there and back.

On the way, half of the bicycle’s kickstand fell off, leaving a dangerous obstacle on the road somewhere. I had only fitted the spindly accessory weeks ago, but I’m not surprised it didn’t last long. There is no suggestion that my own screwdriving skills are inadequate.

On Sunday, I saw some professional bicyclists racing in the the British National Road Race Championships. Spectators stood in their front gardens and on grassy knolls to spectate, and it was nice to get some insincere cheers as I cycled along the route to a vantage point. My silly-looking silhouette was captured on a blurry bit of the live coverage of the men’s race. I’m leery of the sport of cycling – it’s at odds with “utility cycling”, which is probably part of why car manufacturers sponsor it1 – but it passed the time.

Now, many of the local Strava segment leaderboards are polluted with the athletes’ upsettingly quick times, but I don’t care.

  1. See “Save the planet – ban cycle helments” 

Week 14

What happened this week?

On Monday, writing about the previous week, I missed a gaping oppunity to fabiricate an “and then the whole bus clapped” ending to a story. I apologise.

I did some work. In what’s fast becoming a tale as old as time, something broke on Tuesday morning but I didn’t notice until in the evening, after a day of which some sweaty hours were spent bicycling frivolously, and only by seeing someone moaning (in the nicest possible way) on an internet forum. There are some opportunities there for me to improve the “monitoring” situation, maybe use the internet of things to administer an electric shock – actually, the excellent Sentry had sent me an automatic email about the error, but it got lost among all the similar-looking ones I can safely ignore.

On Sunday, I renewed my Browserstack subscription and got all interested in whether things work OK with old web browsers that hardly anyone uses any more. The answer is they mostly do – and even a little bit better now. I have a habit of writing old-fashioned JavaScript without using any modern conveniences, which is a bit like writing a lipogram or in C, and which a part of me thinks I ought to grow out of. This website looks surprisingly good even in the Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 of my youth, which is not that surprising as there’s not that much to go wrong.

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


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”.


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.


(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.


See an aeroplane and some horses.


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.


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”.