October 2022

Struggling to account for October. It went by in a blur and punctuated by the full stop of Daylight Saving Time coming to an end and the darkness descending on us like a black wing at 4pm.

State of the Browser 2022

Took a trip down to London to attend State of the Browser 2022—the first real conference[1] I've ever attended! And it blew my expectations out of the water.

I don't think I could ever live down in London but I sure as heck love to visit. There's a deep-down part of me that gets a secret thrill out of riding the subway, born probably in the Metro in Montreal on the one day a year I'd ride it with my dad to Île Notre Dame to see the Formula 1, the Yellow Line doglegging off the side of the map and the well-worn doors around the Jean-Drapeau metro station blustery and smelling of cigarettes. People moving anonymously through their day, looking conspicuously at anything but each other. Hell of a time. I love to be a silent particle in a crowd of people all heading off to somewhere or other with purpose and élan. I love the sense that there's something happening everywhere. I love a good city, and I love a good subway.

Enough about the Chyube—The State of the Browser 2022 was held at the stunning Barbican Centre, a massive architectural statement indicating just what heights Brutalism can rise to when you let it converse with nature a little bit. Unmistakably 1970s but feeling fresh and modern and well-built, capable of outlasting us all, already half-overgrown. The conservatory in particular was worth the visit.

But the talks were the star of the show: a heady dose of web standards and JavaScript conservatism, which is just about the only conservatism that I can stand. When you spend too much time on Twitter, it feels like every question posed is answered with a hefty dollop JavaScript—a new build library or a new framework or a new metaframework eking out a soupçon of performance for only an extra megabyte or two. JavaScript is where the conversation happens.

But it was good to get together with 150 or so other folks to spend a little time coming back to terms with how powerful the browser has become in the past few years. I wasn't around for the Bad Old Days, but browsers have become eminently more capable even since I started in 2017. To hear from Bruce Lawson that early Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator actually implemented entirely different specifications was absolutely wild. Andy Bell, Michelle Parker, and Jhey Tompkins both covered the modern ways that developers can leverage modern CSS to build robust interfaces that scale across a broad range of devices. Sophie Koonin and Alistair Shepherd both presented on creative approaches to design leveraged by modern APIs, and Henri Helvetica put our work into the context of the environmental and performance impact that an overreliance on JavaScript can yield. We capped off the day with a couple of heady stouts from a nearby pub, the kind of exciting beer that you really only get in the city.


Started the month out with a bang by going on a big 30 km loop near Lanchester with maybe a little bit more vertical than I was strictly ready for.

Humbled, I took to eBay to find anything in the way of bike components that could plausibly make climbing easier. I came back with a new chain, a derailleur with a longer cage, an absolutely minuscule front chainring, and a new freewheel (which didn't end up fitting: oh well). A bit of wrenching (and copious cleaning) later, my bike felt more capable, slicker, more tightly coiled. Ready to spring up a hill with nary a sweat broken.

Spent the rest of the month chasing distance around the notoriously flat part of Northumberland just north of Newcastle. Enjoyed a cannoli in Morpeth; cycling really is about the finer things in life. In November it'll be back up into the hills.


At the beginning of the month I rode the bike down to Hartlepool for some candy at the shops, and while I was in Asda, some kids strolled by and tried to steal the bike. I'd put the steering lock on to prevent just such rascals from touching my stuff but, unperturbed, they put all of their weight into the handlebars in an attempt to break the steering lock off and make off with it. Japanese engineering won out in the end and the steering lock made the bike un-make-off-able, but a bent handlebar was the reward for my foolishness. I rode home safely but with arms all skew-whiff.

Nevermind—lesson learned, and anyway we're resourceful folks. We found a replacement set of bars on eBay for pretty cheap, so off with the old and on with the new. Too late, we found that the holes for locating the switches were all in the wrong place, but we took a chisel to the pegs on the switches and made do. I suspect that the handlebars are generics but made to spec for one of the knockoff YBRs coming out of China.

While we had the bike in parts, we did an oil change as well: remarkably easy, and ery clean inside: Yamaha builds bikes like tanks.


Saw Destroyer and Bon Iver; I've written elsewhere about that but suffice it to say that I wish live music was a regular part of my life. Maybe when we've got a bit more time.


After having blood drawn regularly every six months for the past 8 or 9 years while monitoring my thyroid hormone levels, I was finally put on a light course of thyroxin, and it's made a massive change for the better. The skin on my face has always been a little bit dry and flaky, and it's been getting worse with time; before being medicated I could barely go a full day after a nice hot exfoliating shower before my forehead started to litter white specklets on the pillowcase. But now, it's two or three days before I start peeling. It's not perfect, but it's a definite improvement.

Maybe more importantly, though, my tolerance for cold has absolutely skyrocketed. I spent most of last winter wrapped in multiple sweaters, under lap blankets, hauling the duvet around the house, trying to hold onto the little warmth I seemed to generate. Ghyll's put an end to my duvet-carrying days (he'd love to sink his fangs into it & tear it to shreds), but no matter: I can get by with a t-shirt and jeans even when the wind gets up and the mercury drops. I feel superhuman in my ability to manage the cold now. When Sam, who runs notoriously hot, complains of the cold, all I can do is to repeat to her the advice she liberally doled out last year: put on another sweater. It feels like a superpower; it feels unfair.

The *waves hands* state of things

The government had a bit of a Moment midmonth, and the economic instability that it wrought has stuck with us well into Sunak's prime ministership. We're glad that we're on a fixed-rate mortgage and a fixed-rate energy tariff, but the general cost of living means we're being a little tighter with funds than we'd be otherwise.

We didn't put the heating on all month, though, which we both consider a real victory.

1. By "real conference" I mean something somewhat more structured than an after-work meetup of likeminded WordPress developers.

Monthnotes State of the Browser Cycling Motorbike


CSS nesting

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