The weather's finally turned, so I've got to choose my days out strategically or spend the next 5 months soaked through.
Well, there’s September; 3 months left in 2022. Where has the year gone? After like 8 weeks of solid sunshine, the rain has arrived and the muddification of the country is under way.
Is Ghyll growing older, more responsible; is life getting back to normal? That feels like a bit of a trick question. He’s definitely bigger—he can get his full snout over the lip of the countertop now—but it feels like his growth is slowing down… a little bit.
Sam and I have found our routine; she takes him with her most of the time but on Tuesday afternoons and Friday mornings I’ve got him to myself (the ladies of the St. Luke’s sewing circle don’t rate excitable puppies, somehow). A lot of the time I struggle to balance work with giving Ghyll the attention he craves; I usually err on the side of the latter and make up the work after hours. I don’t know if it’s sustainable but it’s routine, which means it’s one fewer thing to think about. Ghyll has a bit of quiet time while we have dinner, and then we take him out for an hour’s walk in the dark. Our obedience coach says that we should feed him dinner, biscuit by biscuit, while we walk, to encourage him to stick close while he’s on the lead. That’s alright for shorter folks but I’ve gotta bend just about in half to reach down to him—jumping up must not be tolerated.
(I call her our obedience coach since dog training is, as everyone will tell you, mainly about training dog owners rather than the dogs themselves.)
I still struggle with him being mischievous as well. When he jumps up on the counter or nips at my hands my blood pressure goes through the roof and I don’t have any good techniques for dealing with it short of leaving the room or closing my eyes for 20 seconds. I imagine I’ll get better with time.
Had a productive couple of weekends around the house; while I haven’t gotten back into the habit of 30 Minutes of Chores since getting Ghyll, Sam and I did manage to sort out a couple of items that had been bothering us for a while. We installed a new light on the front of the house, so you can find your way in the dark months ahead, and we replaced a missing nut on the Yamaha that prevented us from riding (safely).
Speaking of the Yamaha, we’ve taken to riding it reasonably regularly. It still struggles to get up to 60 mph—the gearing is just too short for that—but it’s good riding down to Hartlepool.
We also replaced the speakers on my 2015 MacBook Pro. I’d stubbornly neglected to fix them for months, daunted by iFixit’s lengthy guide—but in the end, the fix wasn’t nearly as complicated as I’d thought. Clear speakers and a dustless interior (not to mention the free battery replacement I got when I purchased the computer back in 2020) have given this computer a new lease on life.
The hot weather’s finally broken so I spent a bunch more time in running shoes or on the saddle of my bike in September. Not much to be said about running; I probably need new shoes but I’m going to try and get another 150km out of my Hokas before they give up the ghost.
Preparations for the Coast to Coast next year proceed apace; it’s far off so there’s not much of a sense of urgency, but I’m enjoying being out on the road enough that you’d still find me there even without a goal. I’ve started riding with a buddy from Newcastle and I’m enjoying the sense of companionship that you get riding bikes: in a pair you feel much more protected against negligent BMW drivers, and it’s nice to be able to chat on the flats.
My Schwinn, however, might not be the optimal bike for undertaking the challenge, however. The gearing is a little high, and the frame a little bit small (well, compared to the Fuji Espree I had in Japan, which was downright enormous). I’m considering trying to install a rear cassette with better ratios for climbing, but I’m limited by the old Suntour ARX derailleur I’m running.
I know I’m not going to care about any of this for the next couple of years, but someday I’ll look back on the Schwinn with fondness.
Reading & writing
Spent the entire month reading I Am a Strange Loop, and I’m still not finished. Some books just don’t resonate with me for the first 100 pages or so, and I have to force myself to sit down with them. Most of the time they click and I race through the remaining pages, but this one isn’t, for some reason. Hofstadter is clearly very smart; the analogies he uses are clever and insightful, and the questions he’s trying to answer are clearly important ones—but something feels so low-stakes about the whole thing. The knowledge of how my sense of consciousness arises feels like it could have no possible material impact on my life. Maybe that’s closeminded of me. At any rate I’m nearly finished. I think I’m gonna go back to fiction for the next one.
Slowly getting back into the swing of writing on the blog again; I’m torn between trying to write web-development-related stuff (most of which boils down to: you don’t need Next.js for your blog) and writing personal-type stuff. The former is ostensibly what other folks’d want to read; the latter is what I’ll want to read, 10 years from now. I’ve been thinking about the past a lot lately so I’m leaning more towards the latter. Whereas a potential web-dev audience is ephemeral and totally non-guaranteed, myself-as-audience will almost certainly be here years and years down the line (barring some personal catastrophe).
The past-ward thinking probably has a little bit to do with moving all of my Everything You Have Heard is True blog posts over to CraftCMS. (Backstory: when I first moved to Japan I wrote a weekly blog called Everything You Have Heard is True where I went a little bit overboard writing about everything that was new to me.) Blogger’s been rock-solid for the 10 or so years it’s been since I started that blog, but I don’t trust that it won’t up & vanish on me one of these days, so I’ve been moving those posts over to this blog, one by one. I’ve even configured AWS S3 to store the pictures and written some clever code to automatically display responsive images on the frontend (blog post to come).
Got an Apple Watch SE midmonth; Sam’s had a Series 7 for 18 months or so and I was eventually overcome with jealousy at the surfeit of personal statistics that Apple Watches opt you into: how long (and well) you’ve slept, what your resting heart rate is, that sort of thing. As a bonus, it’s been a great GPS watch for tracking runs & bike rides. Very stoked with it so far—though I think the benefits only really accrue over longer periods of time.
Early in the month we also got news that the Queen was very ill, and then got news that she’d died, after which the media went maybe a little bit overboard. I think that we’d culturally jumped the shark when Wilko made its website all black & white and put up the big RIP QUEENIE banner. The Queue was a real Thing That Happened and it felt very British, but the media went a little bit overboard with that as well. I don’t think that I really subscribed to any of it as it was happening, since the monarchy has nearly zero impact on my life as a Canadian living in the North East; but a great many people were sad about it, and, as I saw it put somewhere, the death of the Queen was the real end of the 20th century.
Shortly thereafter, the British economy took a bit of a tumble on the announcement of a poorly-thought-out tax budget produced by His Majesty’s Government. The cost of living was already going up without a weakened pound, but as of writing, £1 will yield only $1.11 USD. In real terms my salary’s taken like a 20% hit over the past couple of months—which is probably an inauspicious start to a winter of interest rate rises. Labour, who have produced what looks like a viable economic plan in the past few days, are poised to take massive parts of the country back in the event of an election. Now we just need the election.