Monthnotes 2021-11-05: Rocktober?

What happened there?

Lubbins, the weeks are flying past faster than a lost Tornado fighter currently. How are you all?

Admission time – I started writing this set of notes a whole month ago. Then October took off, and I’m trying to think of a wordsmash that sums it up. Shocktober? Choc-a-bloctober maybe.

There’s been too much to get into much depth here. Maybe I can find some time to catch up with smaller posts over the next few weeks.

In short, and in proper braindump style, here’s what I remember happened…

  • Started doing some freelance web dev code for a web design studio in Brighton. It was honestly pretty daunting at first – around a week to get some HTML templates set up, but it was alright after taking some existing templates and working from there. I’ve got heavily into Bootstrap, flexbox and responsive design, and finally used sass in anger.

  • Writing Our Legacy became a CIC, which was a couple of evenings supporting the unstoppable Amy to put together application forms over Zoom and whisky.

  • After many months, the Seaford Environmental Alliance finally got the keys to an old NatWest, to turn it into a Climate Hub. I didn’t get much time to help, but had things to sign and spent a morning with doors and taking photos.

  • I went along to a training session for understanding energy bills and company switching, organised by OVESCO community energy group. Hopefully I can spend some time soon actually running something for a morning.

  • Half-term holiday happened at the same time.

  • Birthday weekends (not mine) happened at irregular intervals, which meant we did get to visit Beaulieu motor museum and Marwell Zoo, both of which I enjoyed a lot.

  • What seems like a long time ago, I carried on working on automating Lighthouse report metrics for tech energy assessment. I remember I was pleased with what I did, but am hoping I left it in a good state for me to return to soon… I also got to tinker with the Writing Our Legacy site to make it more efficient, which was a really handy exercise. I should really get back to offering WordPress reviews again.

And breathe

Truth be told, it was a fairly harsh week or two with a sudden rush of THINGS, set against various bits of sad news and ongoing world craziness. I was pretty much out of energy at a few points, and getting desperate for a bit of a break.

It’s nice to be back coding properly for a bit again – some of my anxiety was around not knowing what I could achieve, getting into new technology. Was a week to deliver something going to be a rushjob? What were people’s expectations?

But in the end, things came together well. I’m still getting my head round the ins and outs of Bootstrap and Flexbox design, but what I put together was clean, and didn’t feel hacked together, which has boosted my confidence. And all the better to be able to charge for it.

I’ve got a half-day to catch up on emails and admin tasks, and a couple of days "off" for personal time and projects next week. I’m learning to have "internal" and "external" blocks of time more – that is, different people will see my time differently, and I can adapt how I describe my time to others. Time on charity work, for example, might be "Time Off" for freelancing clients, but not "Time Off" from a family perspective. Similarly with building my own business efforts – I need to ringfence that time carefully so that it doesn’t get confused.

Things got so scattered I ended up putting together a spreadsheet that draws on my product management background, and scores and weights each item to get some sort of automated priorities. I don’t always (if ever) follow the priorities, but it does act as a kind of sanity check when my brain fails to retain any kind of order.

It’s also nice having a sheet set up for time tracking, including what I’ve invoiced and been paid.

Suddenly everything feels all… real again.

Abstract monochrome image of foam on ripples

Entertain me

Book-wise, I finished up Gormenghast book 2, which was as brilliant as I wanted it to be. And I read What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri – this summarised so much of what I’ve been trying to figure out about "black", "white" and the definition/labelling war. Short but packed, definitely recommended for a wider, more historical perspective on "race".

Games-wise, I’ve been playing a small speed-run-style platformer on my phone called LOVE. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up buying it on Steam so I could play using a keyboard. Current best time: 9m 28s.

I’ve also been getting into ghost-hunting scare/detective game Phasmophobia more and more with a friend. There’s been a lot of being caught by ghosts but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. Spooky places are just fun to hang out in, it turns out.

On the Switch, I managed to get past Bowser in the incredibly crafted Mario Oddysey, and have picked back up on Genesis: Noir, which is looking super stylish if you like jazz-slash-film-noir point-and-click type stuff.

And finally, I picked up a copy of The Shapeshifter from Greenboy Games – yes, an actual physical, boxed Gameboy game. Here are some shots of it running on my Gameboys.

Links what I’ve been reading

Sorry, there are lots of FT links in here… Might cut those out in future.