digitalraven: (Default)

Okay, this is going to be personal. Also, I’m kinda scared to make this public in case my family sees, as they don’t know any of it and I worry that it paints them in an undeservedly negative light.

Also also, have a trigger warning for discussion of suicide.

Read more... )
digitalraven: (JuJu)

2016 is a shit of a year. Life has got worse for a tremendous number of people.

If I can make it better, even in a small way, I shall do.

As such, all proceeds on Zero Point Information stuff at DriveThruRPG until the end of the year will go to to The Trevor Project, a charity that helps LGBTQ youth in the USA.

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

digitalraven: (Default)

I don’t use my hands a lot in my line of work. I think and I type; I build systems out of logic and functions in my mind, a brilliant collection of interlocking ideas, then implement them in the limited representations available in the form of programming languages; shackling the sacred with chains of the profane. It’s all cerebral; in the end, what I do amounts to pressing pieces of plastic to make other pieces of plastic change colour.

It can get depressing, you know?

To fight that feeling, I started making things. Not ideas, not mental constructs, but tangible physical objects. I guess that makes me a bit of a hipster. I like the way that wood spins in the lathe, how the mallet and chisel cut grooves, how the saw and the die interact.

Read more... )
digitalraven: (Default)

It’s lunchtime in the Bannister and Shamrock when my client walks in. You know the place; it used to be the Rose and Crown but now it’s some horrible faux-Oirish dump because the brewery are idiots. Anyway, it’s near to my flat and cheap enough, so the pub remains the nearest thing I have to an office. My client — no names, I work under a strict cover of professional confidentiality — tells me that she is looking for Blue. At first, I thought she meant a person or a dog or something.

“No, Mr. Sherringford. I’m talking about the colour.”

Read more... )
digitalraven: (Default)

Why does the sweet potato pine?
It pines for it knows
The other potatoes.
The regal King Edward sat up on its throne,
Holding court over spuds white and red:
Its herald, the Rooster,
Maris Piper, the sheriff,
Ambassadors Arran Victory, Yukon Gold.
The sweet potato pines for it has no place in this court,
And thinks monarchy outdated and cruel

Why does the sweet potato pine?
It pines for it knows
The other potatoes.
Paupers, lives blunted and cruel.
Baby Gem, so innocent, until boiled up and sliced,
Salad Blue just a novelty by now.
The mocking appellation of the Jersey Royal,
Still a peasant, along with the rest.
The sweet potato pines for it was once overlooked,
But showed kindness, unlike the rest.

Why does the sweet potato pine?
It pines for it knows
The other potatoes
The Majestic, glory faded but not letting go;
Desiree, who once was a star.
Violetta, made up in indigo and blue.
Famed names: Lady Balfour, Picasso, Vivaldi,
Not a one with their namesake’s longevity.
The sweet potato pines for it has celebrity.
But never let fame go to its head.

Why does the sweet potato pine?
It pines for it knows
The other potatoes,
And they’re all utter bastards.

digitalraven: (JuJu)

A cyberpunk roleplaying game about having the best stuff

This is very unapologetically 80’s cyberpunk — cybernetics rather than gene-tailoring and shit like that. All money is in Euro, and all numbers are written in European notation; one hundred thousand Euro is €100.000,00 but nobody cares about cents. Cash is good. Stuff is better.

Conflict Resolution

Both participants in a conflict declare what they want. If they’re in opposition — one person wants something that would hurt, kill, or deprive another of stuff, you have a conflict.

If neither of you have tech, neither of you gets what you want. Stop being boring.

If one party has equipment with a Trait that applies to the conflict and the other doesn’t, the person who brought the gun to the knife fight wins. You bring meat, you lose. Fuck you. If you live, buy yourself better.

If both parties have equipment with appropriate Traits, each one rolls 1d6 and adds +1 per ten thousand (€10.000) Euro. You get what you pay for. Yes, if someone has an €80.000 DaCri neuro-overclocker and the other has a €10.000 Atari cortical stimulator, the Atari user loses automatically. Again, tough shit. Buy more, buy better.

If you have a piece of custom gear that would help with the situation (see “Equipment”), your kit counts as being worth €10.000 more than normal. Increase this by an additional €10.000 for each time you upgrade the customization. Yes, this could be better stated as “+1 to rolls” but fuck you this is capitalism.

When you win a conflict, you get what you want.

When you lose a conflict, you take the consequences of the other person getting what they want. You can make those consequences on you easier (but not remove them entirely) by deactivating a bit of tech. The GM decides how this works in the story, but it’s always an option if the only other choice is serious injury or death. You can’t use de-activated tech at all.

In order to re-activate tech, describe how you fix it, and spend half its value in Euro to reactivate it; full-value if it’s upgraded.

Character Creation

Make up a name, decide on a general personality, and a sense of what you can do — what some other games call a concept.

You have €200.000 to spend on equipment. You can’t spend more than €100.000 on any one thing. See the equipment section for how that works.

Nobody cares what your meat can do. Go sell your sorry carcass to a restaurant.

Equipment

Rather than providing a specific list of shit, this is how you make stuff. Remember, you can’t spend more than €100.000 on any one piece of equipment when starting out. You can’t start out with an upgraded bit of gear. Make a name for yourself first, nobody.

Building Equipment

When building a new piece of gear, run through the following steps:

  1. Determine the key information about your tech
    • What is it? Cyberwear, armor, weapons, a tricked-out van?
    • What brand is it?
    • What model is it?
    • How much did it cost?
    • What Trait does it allow you to use? (see below)
  2. Optionally, spend €4.000 to customize your gear.
    • What have you customized? Give us detail.
    • How does your customization help? [Custom] makes my gear €10.000 more effective when I [Trait] in [Circumstance]
    • Each piece of gear can only have up to 2 customizations per Trait.

When you get more money after a job, you can buy extra stuff because you suck at something, customize existing stuff to fit how you work, trade in existing stuff, or upgrade a piece of gear.

Buy New

See the section that says “Building Equipment”? Off you go.

Customize

Again, look at how customizations work in “Building Equipment”. Same. Easy.

Trade In

  1. Work out what you want: Build a new piece of tech. It can do the same job as the old one (have the same Trait) or something else entirely.
  2. Sell your old stuff: You get 90% of what your existing gear is worth when you give it up, less 10% for each time you’ve deactivated it. Halve the remainder if the gear hasn’t been repaired since last deactivation.
  3. Buy your new shiny-shiny.

Upgrade

  1. Determine what you’re upgrading.
  2. Specify how you’re upgrading it in-game. What are you doing to make it better?
  3. Spend spend spend.
    • €10.000: Add an extra Trait.
    • €5.000: Improve a customization (up to three times each).

Upgrading doesn’t increase the item’s intrinsic value by the amount you spend. If you blow €20.000 on adding an extra two Traits to a €10.000 cyberarm, that arm still only adds +1 to rolls — and is only worth €10.000 on trade-in. Also, you lose all three Traits if you have to deactivate it. Stop being sentimental and buy more stuff.

Yeah, upgraded gear can make your life a shitshow. That’s the downside to being precious. On the other hand, if you solve every problem with your 6' long penis replacement plasma cannon you get a cost-break for customizations to do so.

Traits

Each Trait is a broad descriptor of actions that characters take in a cyberpunk story. Each has suggestions for cyberwear. You don’t have to have it as cyberwear — Detect could be a swarm of camera drones, while Fight could be a mono-edge knife. You have imagination. Use it.

  • Coax: Influencing and manipulating people. Scanning micro-expressions and dumping pheromones into the air.
  • Detect: Notice details and track people. Milliwave radar and cybereyes.
  • Fight: Making people hurt up close. Martial arts skillwires, implanted arm-razors.
  • Hack: Defeating computer-based security and interact with technology. Cyberdecks, headjacks, and magnetic palm implants
  • Move: Being faster than other people. Cyberlegs, reflex stimulators.
  • Prowl: Get around without people seeing you. Thermoptic camoflage, electromagnetic scramblers
  • Shoot: Making people hurt from afar. Implanted submachine guns, smartgun palm-link.
  • Think: Be smarter than other people. Neuro-cognitive overclockers, internet smartlink.

Playing the Game

If you don’t know how to play a roleplaying game, god help you because I sure won’t.

Mirrored from ZeroPointInformation.

digitalraven: (Default)
As some of you may already have heard, [personal profile] grendelsmere and I have separated.

We're still friends, so please don't think it's an either-or when it comes to inviting us to stuff or anything.
digitalraven: (Default)

I fucked up my glasses last week, rolled over and smashed one of the lenses. Joy. Made an appointment for the optician on Friday, and got in to see him today. My big plan was to see if I could get contacts. I do a lot of looking out of the edges of my eyes when crossing the road or checking the mirrors when driving and and so something that allowed me to see crisply wherever my eyes were pointing would be really nice.



This is possibly because I only started wearing glasses in 2009. Before then, I had 28 years of focusing perfectly well where my eyes, rather than my face, is pointing. I thus don’t have all of the tics, all of the bits and bobs relating to turning my head in order to see something properly. If I need to look up at something, Imma look up with my eyes. If I need to see the top of my head, well, Imma turn my head down and my eyes up like I always bloody have done.



Fortunately, I’m short-sighted so I don’t lose too much focus when shaving my head, or I’d be a whole lot more scarred.



Unfortunately, the optician put the kibosh on that whole plan. The astygmatism in my left eye is at the point that contact lenses won’t fix it, unless I go for hard lenses — and I’m not spending that kind of money on a what-if. It’s glasses or nothing. So right now I’m back to sporting my spare pair, with all of the inherent downsides — no lens thinning, no anti-reflective, anti-glare, or photochromatic coatings, and a pair of frames that felt fine in the shop but that are juuuuust too tight after extended wear. Joy.

digitalraven: (Default)
The Festival (rather than the fringe) had its official opening last night, which involved projecting stuff on the castle. Thanks to [personal profile] andrewducker, we got tickets.

Got some decent(ish) pictures in this here album.
digitalraven: (Default)

I was defibrillated yesterday.

I’ve had a chance to use practice AEDs on fake people as part of my first-aid certification. I’ve never had to use them in anger. This wasn’t like that, though. I knew they were going to do it, hell, I pushed for them to do it because it was so fucking cool.

Spoiler: It was kinda an anticlimax.

I should point out that I was conscious for the whole event, I chose to get zapped, it was pretty much guaranteed to work, and had no real chance of making things worse. I wasn’t in the kind of state where people would need to drag an AED over to me or anything — I still had a pulse, it was just really fucking fast and not regular. At no point was my life in danger or anything like that; I got a taxi to the hospital rather than an ambulance.

Monday, 01:15

Get out of bed, unable to sleep. Have a glass of water. Stand up, stretch, click back, feel a weird heart rhythm start. Mutter “Oh, fuck, not again.” Control breathing. Drink some water. Start reading a book, as I’ll be awake until this shit’s finished.

02:30

Remember I have beta blockers in the flat. Take one. Wait twice the usual amount of time. It doesn’t work.

03:45

Realise that this is the longest-running instance. Panic a bit. Have another glass of water. Finish the book, and return to bed in the hopes of maybe sleeping through the last of it, instead feel like my heart’s bouncing around my chest.

07:30

Get up, go see GP. He sends me off to Leith to get an ECG. For the first time since I’ve had these abnormal rhythms, it’s lasted long enough that the ECG finds evidence. Yay atrial fibrillation, only without the yay.

10:00

Turns out the place in Leith has a cardiologist in to see out-patients one day a week. That one day is Monday. He very kindly has a look over the results (kindly as I’m not one of his patients) and explains what’s going on. In short: hie myself to the hospital, where they can either administer drugs to slow things down, or restart my heart with motherfucking electricity.

Decisions, decisions.

11:00

Accident and Emergency is quiet; I barely have time for a sip of water after signing in before the triage nurse takes a look. The fingertip pulse monitor says I’m at 63 BPM. Which is odd, because I can feel it faster than that in my wrist. She goes to get another EGC “just to check”.

The actual heart monitor shows that I’m pushing 214 beats per minute. Seeing the number spikes it above 220, which is the point that my vision goes blurry and kinda grey and I start breathing very deeply. Everything goes by rather quickly.

11:30

I’m on a bed in the resuscitation room of A&E. The doctor has tried a couple of mechanical means of fixing the atrial fibrillation (hey, anything with a 40% success rate and no side effects is worth a shot) to no avail. So now I have a full heart monitor hooked up with a screen that I can see as well as one for the medics. I can see that my average heart rate is 191 BPM.

Once again he explains the options. Once again, I beg for lightning.

Oxygen and something closer to morphine than I’ve had before. I get a bit sleepy. I recognise the pads they slap on, they’re the same style as the ones in our AEDs. Some white stuff, I don’t remember the name, then I have a little sleep.

It’s 2040. Our president is a plant.

My glasses aren’t on my face. Huh. When are they going to shock me?

11:50

They already have, you idiot. It worked. I feel so much better. My bed’s wheeled off to a corner for observation with a portable monitor, so nurses can hear and fix things if it turns out that the abnormal rhythm comes back. I have another little sleep; this time I can see my watch and know it’s only ten minutes.

13:45

I’m released, with some notes on what to do if it happens again.

15:10

The painkillers wear off. Jesus fuck this feels like I’ve been punched in the tits with a lightning bolt.

It’s later that I realise that I actively wanted people to turn my goddamn heart off and on again to fix it. I’ve been working in tech support for too long. Realising that there was a wee second there where my heart wasn’t actually doing anything is a bit freaky.

Conclusion

I’ve had maybe four instances of an irregular heart ryhthm over the past six years. This was the first one to last more than a couple of hours. It identified the issue as atrial fibrillation, which means I know what to do the next time it happens (wait for it to go away, take a beta blocker, try the 40% thing, then go get zapped).

Postscript

I don’t know what hurt more: my chest after the painkillers wore off, or removing all the heart monitor pads.

digitalraven: (Default)
I have a lot of stuff to do. I do not have any motivation. The well is dry right now.

The closure of the coffee place at work for the summer may have something to do with things.

I need to make some tangible progress with something or I'm going to feel like crap, and I'd rather not. But what? Grr.
digitalraven: (Default)

For those who haven’t been following the news today: Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen, was assassinated by a man who allegedly shouted “Britain First” as he stabbed and shot her.

This is the first murder of a sitting MP since Ian Gow in 1990. Excluding those killed in the context of Ireland, this is the first assassination of a sitting MP since 1812.

Jo Cox was an activist for the campaign to keep the UK in the European Union. Prior to becoming an MP in 2015, she was head of policy for Oxfam, and an anti-slavery campaigner.

Britain First are a fascist/neo-Nazi group strongly opposed to EU membership, immigration, multiculturalism, and (in their own words) “the islamisation of the United Kingdom”.

While some people are at pains to point out that the assassin may not have had any direct ties with Britain First, evidence exists that he was a supporter of the Springbok Club, an organisation that defended and supported the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

The whole thing has left me feeling a weird mix of anger, outrage, and despair. What has happened is so utterly abhorrent that I can’t process it in real-time.

The UK is currently embroiled in a war for the Conservative party leadership, being played out via the proxy of our membership of the European Union. Funnily enough, the people who want out of the EU tend to be white billionaires who can buy the laws they want in the UK but not the EU, or racist idiots. Up until a few weeks ago, I could agree that there were intellectually-coherent reasons for people on the left to vote to leave the EU. The exit camp has gone out of their way to demolish all of those reasons. Leaving the EU could allow us to make a better UK, but that’d require us also dismantling our current system of government. As that’s not going to happen, if/when we leave things will get worse. Even the thinnest pretence has been swept away and subtext has been rendered into text. Anyone on the left who thinks exiting the EU is a good thing is putting ideological purity over the lives of vulnerable people, and can thus hurry up and fuck off.

Make no mistake: this is a vote for the flavour of Tories who are going to fuck us, and the exit camp are the greater evil.

Both sides of the official referendum campaigns are totally useless, mind. Both sides have played up the fear of “immigration”, but the leave camp has gone further, going on about “closing our doors” and “taking our country back” from said immigrants. For those reading along in foreign climes, it’s a barely more subtle class of racism than pronouncing ‘negro’ with two ‘g’s.

Here’s Nigel Farage, someone who really should have been just a stain in his dad’s sock, deciding that he’s quite happy taking PR lessons from Josef Goebbles:

The campaigns to leave the EU, then, have used straight up racism and Nazi propaganda. They encouraged the mindset of the assassin and his allies — hell, they normalised it. But it’s not like this is a recent thing. The history of racism in the UK is tied in to immigration, after all — our black and Asian populations are almost all migrants. “Immigrants” has been the go-to dog-whistle for racists since the 1940s, soon joined by “Political Correctness gone mad!”

We’ve made a hell of a lot of progress as a society since then, but at the same time the Overton window has shifted right. This has mostly been driven by newspapers, with the Sun and the Daily Mail and the Daily Express blazing a trail of screaming about evil immigrants stealing jobs and getting unemployment benefits at the same time somehow don’t think just hate hate hate hate. That message sells newspapers, which puts advertisements in front of eyes and generates revenue, despite the message being total shit.

People — mostly white people in England over the age of 50 — say “you can’t talk an honest talk about immigration these days” before going off on exactly the racist tirade they’ve just informed you can’t be said. And you can try saying that to them, you can try saying “Dad, you just said we couldn’t have the conversation we just had, how’s that supposed to work?” but he’ll just repeat “You can’t talk about it.”

As a society, we made it taboo to be racist, and people like to challenge taboos. It makes them feel put upon, they’re the kind of person who claims that middle-class white English men are the last 'oppressed minority’. Because it’s taboo, people rise up to challenge those taboos at a larger level. They claim that they’ll say what nobody else will, ignoring that a whole fuckload of people are saying just that while claming they can’t say it. Which is almost as confused a sentence as it is an experience.

What we ended up with, in the UK, is a far-right party — UKIP, the United Kingdom Independence Party — who shot into the media spotlight. For the past six years they’ve had near constant coverage on political programming. The Green Party in England had an elected Member of Parliament in 2010. UKIP did not. Yet if you looked at political television, radio, and print media you’d think that UKIP were as important as the Conservative or Labour parties and the Greens didn’t exist.

The Overton window progressed right, and UKIP was there waiting. They didn’t just normalise racism, they legitimised it. It wasn’t just this thing that everyone thinks but nobody says. They had a political party! They had people on Question Time! Britain First and their ilk saw their views (albeit watered down for middle England) represented as a legitimate position in the mainstream.

Then, come the election last year, it got worse. The Tories did their own legitimising. They were bricking it about losing seats to UKIP, so they tacked right. Parts of the Conservative party — notably, many of proponents of leaving the EU — took up the same racist rhetoric in order to capture the votes of people who would have gone to UKIP. What do our neo-Nazi cunts think then? It’s not just a third party saying what they’ve been saying, it’s one of the big two!

A combination of the legitimisation of fascistic views and the frenzy of racism spewing from this idiotic referendum directly lead to the assassination of a sitting MP by someone claiming affiliation with a fascist group.

This whole thing scares the living shit out of me.

digitalraven: (Default)

I’ve been reading books. Shocking, I know. While I could recommend SF/F, I’m going to assume that people reading this already know to read things like The Fifth Season and Ancillary Justice, so instead I’m going to focus on some other shit.

A Burglar’s Guide to the City

If there is a general law of urban criminality here, it’s that cities get the type of crime their design calls for

This is the thesis statement of A Burglar’s Guide to the City, a look at urban architecture through the eyes of burglars, herein treated as idiots-savants who make use of architecture to their own ends; people for whom a Dumpster against a thin wall is a better entrance than a locked and alarmed door, who can read a building’s layout from windows and fire escapes based on the city’s fire code. The author puts everything together using the stories of both burglars and the police, and he has a natural narrative voice that I found very readable indeed.

Kindle

Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality

Compassion is the ability to see what needs doing right now and the willingness to do it right now.

Brad Warner used to play in a punk band. Then he became a Buddhist and moved to Japan to be the man inside the rubber suits in kaiju movies. Part memoir, part an exploration of his particular branch of Buddhism, I’m very impressed by the degree to which he goes in to the why of Zen, and the importance of questioning everything — including his own words. It’s interesting in its frankness and openness about the practice of Buddhism and how that applies to the world as it stands.

Kindle

Influence

If I can get you to make a commitment (that is, to take a stand, to go on record), I will have set the stage for your automatic and ill-considered consistency with that earlier commitment. Once a stand is taken, there is a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand.

I know, it’s badged as a “Collins Business Essentials” book, but it’s so much more than that. Influence lays bare the psychology of compliance — the techniques used by everyone from advertisers to interrogators to change people’s behaviour. It’s the science of making you want what I want you to want. It shows the most common tricks, but in doing so it also shows some of the methods of defending against them; often, being aware of what someone is trying to do (whether they know it or not) can help change the situation.

Kindle

The Phoenix Project

If an organization doesn’t pay down its technical debt, every calorie in the organization can be spent just paying interest, in the form of unplanned work.

If you work in IT and have not read this book you are doing it wrong.

Kindle

digitalraven: (Brainiac)
So I've signed up to duolinguo in order to pick up the basics of German that I didn't pick up when I was living there (most anything not involving beer, fags, and system administration). One of the things that came up during the basic adjective section was "meine schöne Pferd" — my lovely horse — which got a laugh as one might expect.

I might have mentioned it in the pub later. I might also have mentioned that I'd been idly thinking, and was up to "fetlocks" in the lyrics. And having tweeted this, [personal profile] feorag noticed.

I'm sorry )

Now I just need to learn it to the tune. It's not perfect, and a couple of places have one too many syllables, but hey. It's good enough for a party piece.
digitalraven: (Default)
Reading through Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl reminded me, as every read-through of a Phonogram volume does, of how music relates to my creative process. Not the focus on pop that Gillen and McKelvie bring to their projects, but I have a hard time writing without something in my ears, if only to drown out the noise of a cat annoyed that he can't have my seat.

I was also reminded about the playlist I created as I was writing the Werewolf: The Forsaken development blogs, which was three-quarters classic Werewolf music, one quarter shit I'd been listening to a lot at the time that was thematic with hindsight. Travis was good enough to compile them on Spotify, for anyone who wants a laugh at my terrible taste.

I said it then and I'll say it again: I'm in charge of two Werewolf game lines. One has Of Wolf and Man and Killing In the Name as it's signatures. This is the other one, running on Howl and Hungry Like the Wolf. Those are pretty much guaranteed to get you different experiences, even if that's the only point of dissonance you know.

With a couple of things on the back burner now, I need to feel out their musical landscape. Upon which I'm drawing a blank, as I've been listening to the general 300-some long "songs to distract you from your idiot coworker" playlist for too long. Three track character headspace, five for each arc should do. Another goal to work towards
digitalraven: (Default)

This symbol has no meaning. It’s bashed together from a few ideas for vaguely occult-looking symbols that’ve been in my head for a while, but drawing on the clean lines aesthetic common to the design work of Jonathan Hickman. The “network angel” that he uses as a Twitter bio pic is emblematic of his style:

The network angel

The thing I put together is busier, but it’s a mega-glyph for the god/demon/both worshipped by a group of mental alchemists in something that I’ve been writing in the background.

A glyph

Keynote is a surprisingly good tool for this kind of drawing, as it happens. Even if I did break my brain figuring out layering for shape subtractions.

digitalraven: (Default)
I am having a less than optimal day for a whole bunch of reasons that boil down to "other people".
digitalraven: (Default)

Got in and was hungry as balls. Had a rummage through the cupboards and found some random stuff. The umami paste and beef stock are the only things stopping it from being vegetarian. Maybe replace the beef stock with veg stock, the umami paste with miso paste, and double up the maggi.

Serves 4
Prep time 5 mins
Cook time 45 mins

Ingredients

  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped chilli
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder (more if you like to taste the heat)
  • 200g puy lentils
  • 400g can kidney beans
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 800ml beef stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp umami paste
  • 2 tsp maggi sauce

Method

  1. Fry onion/celery/garlic for 5-10 mins to soften.
  2. Add chilli and dry spices & stir to infuse.
  3. Add add all the other ingredients and stir through. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 20 mins.
  4. Uncover and give it another 15-20 mins at a fast simmer.

Serve with the usual chilli accoutrements — rice, tortilla, cheese, etc.

digitalraven: (Buzzsaw)
Wasn't a bad year — especially not by the standards of other people's years — but it wasn't a stand-out. It was just there, filling time, an integer rollover for a period largely filled with noop.

I started the year with four books on my slate. I've ended the year with four books on my slate; worse, three of them are the same books. The one that did get released was fucking fantastic, mind. My day-job has got significantly busier, but I'd like to spend more time working on some new technologies rather than doing what amounts to "normal" development work. On a personal level I've not been cooking so much and relying on takeaway more; I've also not been exercising out of fear of my bad ankle or bad knee packing up and fucking myself up worse.

All of that sounds bad, but it isn't. I've got back to writing after almost twelve months of not putting out words. I'm still doing things I enjoy in a good job that I like going to every day. And I may have a beer gut, but I'm still comfortable enough with how I am.

So yeah, filling time, waiting for the integers to roll over while things progress but slowly.

Looking ahead, I mostly just need to keep going. On both work fronts, I know that I can do what's on my stack, it's just a matter of time. And when that's done, I'll have a bit more freedom — on the freelance front, at least — to explore some of the things coming out of my cranial idea-generation device. I just have to keep chipping away, taking the long way round.

I don't make resolutions because I don't keep them. I do, however, know what I want to do; append "by the end of the year" to those without deadlines.
  • Complete/release all the books currently on my slate.
  • Write on at least two new books.
  • Write/release one new thing for myself.
  • Be under 18 stone.
  • Be cycling to work at least three times a week by the end of May.
  • Go on an actual holiday with J. somewhere outside the UK.
And in 2017, I'll come back and see how I did.
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Back home from the yearly pilgrimage to my parents' place for χmas. This time it’s been a full year since we’ve seen them last — between them taking a trip to China and various issues with grandparents who are accellerating towards 90, we haven’t had chance to meet up between then and now.

The trains were, as can only be expected, total shit. Our train down was cancelled entirely, and we had to jump on to another company’s train to get into the correct county then begging a lift from my dad. Typical really. The only time I didn’t have trouble with the east coast main line was when it was in public hands. Now they’ve given it to Virgin Trains, a company well known for being unable to run a bath, let alone a functioning rail service. At least York station wasn’t actually underwater at any point…

Anyway. The one thing that I always think about when heading back to Hull is the yawning void outside the windows of the car or train. It’s the kind of deep black that goes on forever, fields with no houses and roads not busy enough for streetlights. If you’re lucky you might see the dots of individual houses or the thin orange of a lit-up road, small enough that they’re miles away, but all that gives is the occasional sense of scale. The East Riding is a flat part of the country, and when you can’t see any lights it’s easy to think of just how far that nothingness might spread, how many miles have no lights in them whatsoever.

You get that in all manner of places, it’s true, but it’s always the ones between York and Hull that I’ll remember, as they’re the ones I’ve spent the most time in. Having seen it in daylight, I know that the world hasn’t put any annoying hills or mountains in the way.

I used to use that dark, back in the day. Long-term readers will remember when I moved back in with my parents in 2003, how I basically spent a year and a half in a massive depressive episode. Across the main road from my grandmother’s house, barely five minutes' walk from my parents, was a big field. People kept horses there, and it had a stand of tress. I used to go to the trees — they blocked out the lights of the road — and use the dark as a place to hide, to smoke, to feel like I was somewhere else. Of course, now I look across the road from my grandmother’s and see a construction site, the field to be replaced by a bunch of new houses. That’s true of so much of the area, yet more faceless new-builds of identical floorplan. Bah.

Outside of that little diversion, it was a family visit like so many others. I finally saw my niece, and saw my nephew for only the second or third time. Took photos of the children, because that’s a form of social contact that doesn’t require actual interaction. Met up with my brother, who is finally about to complete his degree12. Met my grandmothers, one of whom we didn’t think would be here a month ago — Parkinsons can fuck right off — and generally saw people and made ourselves useful. We gave and received gifts because of the time of the year, and all is well with that side of our family.

Small blessings, etc.


  1. He initially went straight into a job with a GNVQ while I was still at university; he got a job a couple of months after I started work at univesity. 

  2. His dissertation involves making a basic ticketing system in fucking Microsoft Access. The only programming is a bit of Visual Basic. And he’s going to get a degree for this, in TYOOL 2016