Categories
Life

No Hair, Don’t Care

The hair clippers turned up this afternoon. I put them on charge for a while – until my other half arrived home from school – and then we assembled outside for the “ceremony”.

I sat on a garden chair while my teenage daughters circled me, with grins on their faces and the clippers in their hands. One of them filmed while the others took turns with the clippers, and my other half over-saw proceedings.

It took all of five minutes. At first they were really careful – trimming a little here, and a little there. And then suddenly they were not careful at all any more, with huge clumps of hair falling into my lap, accompanied by giggling, laughter, and expressions of shock.

So. Now I don’t need to get my hair cut for AGES – or brush it – or use shampoo on it really. I wonder how often I’ll have to clipper it if I choose to keep it the same ?

In other news we went through the now practiced drill when my other half got home – her shoes went into a bucket of disinfectant outside, her clothes went straight in the washing machine, and she went straight in the shower. Even though the risk is small, we’re taking few chances.

Categories
Life

Logical Fallacies

I’ve buggered up posting every day this week, haven’t I. Technically it’s already Friday 3rd April, but until I fall asleep I’m going to count this still as Thursday. Friday doesn’t start until I we get up in the morning – everybody understands that, right?

Ridiculous logical fallacies remind me of the arguments I used to have with my Dad – about whether centrifugal force exists, and whether the moon spins or not. If you’ve not thought about those claims before, pause for a moment, re-read them, and then get ready to start arguing with everybody around you about them.

I once caused a physics student to almost spontaneously combust in anger, after explaining that if you could run from point A to point B in 1 second, if you went fast enough, you could get there in no time at all – and if you went even faster, you could get there before you left. He became more and more enraged as I answered his rebuttals with “yes, but what if you went a bit faster than that?”.

Anyway. Time for bed. There’s more news to avoid in the morning.

Categories
Life

The Home Front

I woke up at 7am when the alarm went off, then fell asleep for another hour. It’s taken a few weeks to get used to not running around the kitchen like a madman emptying the dishwasher, feeding the animals, making breakfasts and lunches, and shouting repeatedly up the stairs for the kids to get up.

Once the children get up, it tends to coincide with the first conference calls of the day – I’m still wondering if the artificial intelligence of the cloud is clever enough to block out “The Nation’s PE Teacher” leading a morning fitness programme in the lounge. It often sounds like the house is falling down, only accompanied by laughter instead of screaming.

I haven’t done anything approaching “fitness” for three weeks. Given that I normally cycle somewhere in the region of six miles every day, I really do need to think about getting off my backside – before it doesn’t fit in the chair any more. Maybe the quiet hour first thing on a morning would work – a run around the streets nearby.

I forgot to stop at lunchtime today. I was in the middle of doing something, and worked straight through. I only realised late in the afternoon and by then had something else to get done anyway. I imagine this is a common feature of home working – the temptation to just keep going until you’ve got this done, or that done. Of course the moment I finally closed the computer down, a colleague messaged me – playing the same game – he hadn’t looked at the clock either. A few minutes later – while shutting the computer down for a second time, my youngest tipped her head around the door – “dinner’s on the table”.

I’ve still not spent any time reading the first of many books I’ve been promising to while in lock-down. I need to fix that.

Podcasts have become a wonderful distraction while working from home – half listening to WTF, Grumpy Old Geeks, The Retro Hour, My Brother My Brother and Me, The Bugle, The News Quiz, and many more. When not listening to podcasts, I invariably leave Spotify playing random playlists – mostly because Spotify doesn’t pause to bring you the news.

Categories
Life

Supermarket Adventure

After finishing work this evening we dared venture into town for the first time in two weeks. It felt strange – driving along almost deserted streets, but also kind of nice. We parked directly outside the bank to drop a letter into their mailbox. I didn’t even realise there were parking bays in the high-street – I thought stationary vehicles were part of the road furniture.

The supermarket was remarkably civil. We arrived a little before 6pm, and joined a queue in the sunshine – each family group arranging themselves behind taped lines on the pavement. The gentleman in front of us had a full face mask on, and brand new running shoes. While waiting to be beckoned into the store, he leaned on a painted pillar with his bare hand. I wondered how many hundreds of other people had done the same thing.

The supermarket was perhaps three quarters stocked – a direct reflection on a quickly recovering supply chain, and all the panic-buying idiots running out of money. I saw my first toilet rolls “in the wild” for quite some time – I thought about taking a photo, but feared it might cause a stampede. I forgot to look for paracetamol – I’m guessing there are people up and down the country sitting on crates of paracetamol like some sort of “Pharma Thanos” – still not knowing really why they bought them.

The checkouts and their staff are now partially surrounded by clear walls of perspex. Talking to the staff felt oddly reminiscent of sitting in the back of a black-cab – where your natural propensity is to lean towards the small cut-out window to talk to the driver. I wonder if the staff lean away from people when they do that ?

As we unpacked the bags back at home, the children emerged one-by-one from their hiding places – hoping no doubt for slightly less healthy food than we have offered them in recent days.

Categories
Life

Hair

I had a shave today. This might not sound like much of an accomplishment, but I was rapidly heading towards Grizzly Adams territory (anybody younger than 40 is probably wondering “who the hell is Grizzly Adams?”). My other half tried to convince me that I might look quite dashing with a beard, and cited the example of a certain famous infant school teacher – well… famous in our house anyway.

Here’s the thing – shaving off facial hair once it’s edging past the stubble stage feels a bit like rubbing your face with a cheese grater. Especially if you ran out of shaving foam several months ago, but thought “it’s fine – I’ll just use soap – I’ll get some next week”.

It hasn’t escaped my attention that our hair is continuing to grow while in lock-down – and will continue to grow, because it’s kind of good at that. I made the mistake of wondering out-loud in the kitchen this morning about buying some clippers and having done with my hair for the next six months – the ultimate “zero maintenance” Dad haircut. Unfortunately my other half and children also thought it sounded like a wonderful idea – an idea that could be filmed, and posted to the internet.

The order at Amazon for hair clippers is going in this evening. Even if we don’t raise any money towards the NHS – because of course everybody needs the little money they have left at the moment – I suppose it will show some solidarity, won’t it? And I won’t have to comb my hair for months.

Categories
Life

An Unexpected Surprise

A few minutes ago our eldest daughter wandered in, and asked if it might be a good idea to do some online courses while stuck at home over the next weeks and months – to learn some new skills. After falling off my chair, I struggled to compose myself. Some explanation is probably required.

None of my daughters have ever shown the slightest interest in the one subject I could have easily helped them with throughout school or college. Other than a few days after the arrival of a Raspberry Pi, when writing programs in Python was “fun”, or those few weeks when they were learning “Scratch”, I have been more-or-less redundant. Until this evening.

My eldest daughter wants to learn web development.

She has a goal in mind (that I’m not going to share just yet) – so I’m trying to slow her to a walk before she tries to run – lining up courses on HTML, CSS, and so on. She asked if I could teach her, but I know enough from teaching business people to know that I shouldn’t try to teach her. I’ve seen Star Wars. I know what happens. Granted, she wants to learn – which is half the battle – but I’m also her Dad, so often the enemy as well. Thankfully the internet is full of quite wonderful courses, tutorials, and certifications led by people who are not me.

At least now if she wanders up and asks “what’s the correct standards compliant HTML and CSS to make a menu of options?”, I’ll have a much better chance of answering than “how do you do long division?”

Categories
Life

Saturn 5

A couple of years ago the kids bought me a plastic model kit of the Saturn 5 moon rocket for my birthday. It sat on the shelf in it’s box for the better part of a year, until one particularly dreadful weekend some time ago when I started assembling it. Unfortunately I never got much further than that – so it has sat, partially built, in the corner of the junk room ever since.

Until today.

Given the limited opportunities to go anywhere or do anything, our sights have turned inwards in recent days. Suddenly books might get read, movies might get watched, and model kits might get built. It’s worth pointing out that before the kit of the Saturn 5 arrived in the house, the only model kit I had put together since I was about 13 was a small aeroplane that became part of a school project board for our youngest daughter. I glued – she painted.

It’s been fun. While the rest of the household busied themselves with Wii Dance Party, YouTube, Fortnite, or whatever else this afternoon, I tried to figure out how to glue bits and pieces together without glueing myself to them, or to the desk.

Categories
Life

Missed Vocations

I conducted something of an experiment today. While quietly getting on with work in the junk room, I left the children to their own devices – they know they have school work to get on with, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Yeah, right.

After realising I hadn’t seen our middle daughter for some time, I shouted up the stairs. Apparently she was “having a rest”. I asked if any work had been done this morning, and got an angry torrent back – claiming that just about every subject on the curriculum had been done. I didn’t check, but then wondered why she was sitting at the dining table this afternoon, furiously filling pages with writing. I also wonder if she realises we could look at her YouTube history ?

To be honest, the kids have been brilliant so far. They haven’t complained about not going out, and (for the most part) they have done school work during school hours. Our youngest may have tried to bend the rules a little this morning – fitting in every creative and/or exercise based activity possible, rather than pick up a book or open her laptop – but she seems to have turned things around this afternoon.

Miss 19 has missed her vocation. She has a calming influence on her sisters – letting them blow themselves out when angry or frustrated, and then quietly suggesting a way forward. I wonder if she realises quite how good she is at it ?

I think my vocation might have involved washing clothes – or perhaps answering the door. One of the huge benefits of working from home is being here to receive parcels, rather than discover them some days later in a recycling bin at the side of the house. With most of us being here, each delivery has turned into a race to see who might reach the door first. It’s very exciting.

In other news, a bank we no longer have an account with has been in touch today – informing us that we can take a three month repayment holiday on our non-existent credit cards if we need to. I wonder if they only send that email out to people that don’t need it ?

My better half returned to work today. She hardly slept last night – worrying about it – and then felt awful about raising her concerns, because I imagine it only added to the stress going on among her colleagues at the moment (she works in an infant school, who are remaining open for key worker’s children). We put our heads together last night, and had plans in place for her return – a bucket of disinfectant for her shoes, the washing machine hanging open in preparation for her clothes, and the shower ready-to-go. Fingers crossed.

I suppose in some ways being bottled up in the house for so long, and only accessing the outside world through the media causes it’s own circle of stress.

Anyway. It’s the weekend. Time to drink a glass of something nice, watch something a bit rubbish, and catch up with friends and family through the wonders of the internet.

p.s. I released a new postcast last night – talking to an old friend in San Fransciso about her unintentionally notorious dating blog. It’s worth a listen – you can find it at anchor.fm/jonbeckett.

Categories
Life

Achievement Unlocked

At lunchtime today I volunteered for a desperate mission to the corner shop – armed with a hand-written list of groceries, and “lady things” (a term coined by our youngest daughter – figure it out yourself).

I crossed paths with nobody en-route, and discovered an empty shop – which was quite curious, given that a lady was waiting outside with a dog on a lead. I’m still curious who she might have been waiting for. Inside the shop I half-expected everything to have doubled in price, given the various local citizen journalists posting ever-more fantastical stories on Facebook. Thankfully it appears their stories are somewhat fabricated.

I found almost everything on my list before making an enquiry with the shop-assistant.

“Do you have any eggs?”

He pointed to the opposite side of the shop.

I reached the shelf where they should have been at the same time the assistant did, and started laughing. It was a very nice shelf, but it had no eggs on it. It did have a price label for eggs though. I’ll give it that.

A few moments later – while arranging my treasure trove on the counter, the assistant snuck into the stock room, and re-appeared with a box of six eggs in his hand, smiling.

“I was going to keep these for myself. They are the last box. You can have them.”

We both smiled, and I didn’t quite know what to say. I might have said thank-you quite a few times in a row.

On the way home, I imagined a scene holding the eggs up in the shop, light bursting from them, and the “achievement unlocked” music from the Legend of Zelda video game bursting out of somewhere.