Monday, January 20, 2020

BE THE WOMBAT YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD


Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!


I am a mostly healthy human being again! The gods heard my gross mucus filled sobs and saw fit to restore me. Praise be!

The rain seems to be finally giving way to actual winter and this week feels like the proper start of the New Year, as opposed to the three weeks of limbo and recovery we’ve just had.  I’ve slowly managed to start getting back into a routine. My sleep pattern is still messed up from the pestilence but it’s slowly improving. I’ve managed to go to the gym three times since the last Blog and have done a lot of walking on the days I didn’t go. As an additional aid I’ve downloaded the Wizards Unite game on my phone, just as something to do while I’m walking, looking inconspicuous in my Newt Scamander Hufflepuff scarf!


Don't know how useful it will be or how often I'll actually play it. I managed to get to Level 7 pretty quick without leaving my house!

For the last week I’ve mostly been dealing with a case of tax fraud/possible identity theft (as mentioned in Blog #1) that has been a Kafkaesque farce from the start. When it is eventually resolved I will tell you all about it. Until then #PrayforDai

At some point when I wasn’t dealing with that I found GoogleGarage, which is basically a hub for a load of online courses. There’s also a free Google certified Digital Marketing course which I’ve started. It’s only 40 hours and I’ve been breezing through it whenever I’ve had a free half hour. When I finish it’ll be a good addition to the CV. A problem I’ve found having a work history like mine is that when you then focus on working in the non-profit sector, your stock standard manager doesn’t really understand any of it. So I’m hoping ‘GOOGLE CERTIFIED DIGITAL MARKETER’ will cut through that a bit.

Also managed to start doing some meal preps for the freezer. I made a massive chicken casserole, with dumplings.


I bloody love these 16oz tubs; they’re the perfect for when you’re trying to keep a check on your portions sizes. In each tub is a good amount of chicken, one dumpling and a load of veg. Do a small bit of mash or roast potatoes and you’ve got a really filling meal.


Scenes from the battlefield!


This is absolutely why I could never make it as a professional chef; my mise en place would drive everyone insane.

I’m currently reading my second book of the month, The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihra. It’s interesting, without spoiling it, at the beginning of the book you’re given two conflicting perceptions of another character.  As I’m working my way through the rest of the book I’m constantly weighing up those two perceptions to figure out which is true. I’m intrigued to see which one it is.

Also now that my brain isn’t fogged up my illness and copious amount of cough mixture I’ve started using Duolingo again to learn Welsh and I love that whoever puts the lessons together has a sense of humour.


OoOo! Have just read that all the Studio Ghibli films arecoming to Netflix! Porco Rosso is probably my favourite. I see a Ghibli Marathon in my future!

Have you seen this? Australia’s wombats being absolute legends.
I have read that the herding part may not be entirely true but I want to believe. We’re 20 days in to 2020 and the world is in such a state that I need to believe. Look at that chonky boi! How can they not be the hero we need right now!?

Okay I’m out. I have to go protect the wizarding world on my way to the gym.

Brave heart, Dear friends and don’t let the bastards grind you down.


Monday, January 13, 2020

It's Still Counts as Moving Forward If You're Crawling.

Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!




I would like to request a do over! Day 1 of the New Year I woke with a teeny bit of a sore throat. No big deal me thinks and I pre-emptively took some medicine and thought that it would all pass after 3 or 4 days… Here we are two weeks into 2020 and I only now feel human again. I’ve either been bedridden fever dreaming my way beyond thought and time or sat in a chair scribbling notes and occasionally doing shots of cough mixture like a heartbroken gunslinger with nothing left to lose. I did manage to go for a walk once and I think I may have died at least 4½ times.


I also shaved my head, mainly as an embrace of my male pattern baldness but possibly also as ritualistic plea to the gods to rid me of this medieval pestilence.

So in lieu of cracking on with resolutions I’ve used the time between delirium and coughing up what I hope aren’t vital bits of me to put together to do lists. I started with the garden, at the end of last year I drew up a plan for how I’d like it to look by the end of this summer.


A lot of stuff will have to wait for dryer weather but I’m hoping I can sort out the corner bed so that it makes better use of the space sometime in the next few weeks. Then I will turn my attention to bed two. It’s currently only half full and most of that came from tubs and barrels I’d finished with at the end of last year. I’ve also been composting in situ there. So at the end of November I added in compostable materials and covered it over. At the end of December I took a garden fork to it and turned it adding more compostable materials before covering it again. I’ll do the same at the end of January and maybe February then I’ll get some more soil and top the bed up before starting to plant in it. Then my schemes to bring down the industrial salad complex begin! Or y’know, just surviving brexit on whatever I can grow and/or trade.

Another to do list I scribbled was stuff I want to blog about. The whole point of blogging is to be a more wholesome supplement for social media so I’d like to blog about stuff people can engage with that isn’t just what I’m up to. Once I get properly stuck back into the garden I’ll post about that. One other idea I’ve started putting together is a script chat blog for a pilot I wrote at the end of 2017. I rewrote it over 2018 with the plan of doing something with it last year but that didn’t happen. So I was thinking that I’d break the script into 5 segments and write a breakdown for each one. Even if you’re not interested in scriptwriting it’ll be a serialised story for you to enjoy.

I’ve also got one maybe two politics posts I'd like to write – I know, I know I said wholesome just now but it’s stuff that’s been buzzing around my brain pan something fierce and if I don’t write it out I’ll turn into one of those people that mutters arguments to themselves in public. So you have that to look forward to.

I’ve got a few other bits and bobs that may evolve into posts I don’t know yet. It’s Sunday night as I’m writing this and my plan right now is to shower and then go to bed and pray for a restful night’s sleep. Then tomorrow I am absolutely going to get on and write the first three pages of the feature film script and then I am absolutely going to go to the gym. These are things I am going to do because being ill can piss off.

This is only a short post this week on account of me being a partially reanimated corpse. Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers.

Brave heart, dear friends and don't let the barstards grind you down.



Wednesday, January 01, 2020

2020: GETTING READY FOR WHAT COMES NEXT.


Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!


And so the world turns setting us once again off around the sun. Good luck everyone.

My 2019 was something of a nightmare. Lost my job thanks to the never ending joy that is brexit; a friend passed away, serious health situation with a family member, found new job, new job turned out to be not what was advertised, lost new job, before rounding out the year unemployed and a victim of tax fraud that has yet to be resolved. As well as, y’know… politics.

I also went to a friend’s wedding in Holland which was lovely. And I moved house, where I’m slowly turning the front garden into an allotment fortress against the industrial salad complex (I’ve been documenting it over on Tumblr under the hashtag #Veg Fort) and has included building a bench, table and a cold frame. 



So while last year wasn’t a sob story from start to finish there was a lot of time feeling miserable, catching my breath and just dusting myself off.

So I’m aiming to make 2020 a little more positive. I will do this by setting myself some goals. Resolutions if you will, for the New Year.

·         GET A JOB:
Not so much a resolution as a wild reckless dream I’d like to see fulfilled sometime in 2020.

·         WRITING:
I did very little writing throughout 2019. I wrote a few pages of notes for things I’d like to write but that’s it. So the plan for 2020 is to focus on one script idea, writing 3 pages a day. That should give me a rough draft one by the end of January-ish.

I also want to blog more. Social media is a hell-scape these days. I stopped using Facebook years ago and I use Twitter more for news and interesting links than connecting with people. So short of building my ownsocial media platform I’ve decided to build a home on the “Isles of Blogging” with this HTML graveyard as my shack on the beach.

The aim will be to blog once a week. It’s going to be a mixed bag of topics to begin with and we’ll see if anything settles.

Resolutions:
  • Write 3 script pages a day.
  • Blog once a week.

·         GETTING HEALTHIER:

So over the last 18 months due to some minor health issues I’ve been trying to lose a bit of weight. But for a myriad of reasons, both external and my own laziness, that’s stalled at the end of last year. I while I know that weight related resolutions are cursed I really want to get back to it. I go to the gym regularly but because of a dodgy tendon in my arm I’ve had to avoid weights for the last few months. I think my arm is okay enough to do some light weights; I’ve been doing circuit training exercises to help stretch the tendon and build up some endurance in my shoulder muscles, so I’m hoping it’ll be fine.

Food wise, I do a lot of cooking and I try to use lots of healthy ingredients but I am prone to snacking quite a bit. So that’s something I want to address. I’ve also decided that I will have no takeaways for 2020. Now usually I’d have a takeaway maybe once a month as a treat. But at the end of last year my treat takeaway would too often coincide with an unexpected takeaway with someone else. So I’m going to cut them out. I’ll still go out for food with friends and family; I typically have the vegetarian option anyway so I’m not overly worried about that.

Resolutions:
  •          No takeaways for 2020.
  •          Exercise 4 days a week.
  •          Cut down snacking.

·         SELF IMPROVEMENT:

Now I’m the first to admit I am a pretty awesome individual. Definitely better than most. But there are things I’d like to improve over the next year.

I want to work on some mental health stuff; as I said up top last year felt like a thorough pasting. So I guess part of this year will be about asking for help.

A side effect of the 2019 rollercoaster was that I hardly did any reading. I think I read one and a half books all year. (October Man by Ben Aaronovitch and The Erstwhile by Brian Catling respectively) That is terrible, especially considering the load bearing stacks of books that make up a chunk of my house. So I’m aiming to read at least 2 books a month. I may even blog about some of them.

I really really really want to learn Welsh. I’ve been using Duolingo and a few text books over the last two years but I want to knuckle down with it. So as well as making better use of the resources I have, I’m going to look into signing up for classes. They’ll probably have to wait until I can find a job but if I can sort that then it makes the idea easier to realise. I’ve never really been keen on the idea of classes because I am such a terrible student but if I’m serious about learning the language then I think it’s something that I need to do.

I’d also like to do something community based. Not sure what. My last but one job was working for a non-profit and I really enjoyed using my creative skillsets in that particular field. Again not sure what I’ll do. Was considering something gardening related. My garden has been a haven for the last six months of 2019, I think it would be cool to connect with other local growers: maybe trade surplus, seed share, etc. There’s still a lot of work to do in my garden first, so yeah, I don’t know. Something to ponder over the next month or two.

Resolutions:
  •          Better care of mental health.
  •          Read at least 2 books a month.
  •          Dysgu Cymraeg (tebygol araf iawn).
  •          Do something positive in my community.


Well that’s it. There are still a few long dark nights ahead but there are also bright warm days to come. There will always be change and struggle, My friend Chris, who passed away last year use to say that life was about people helping people, that’s all it’s ever been about. You can’t breathe money; prejudices won’t keep you warm or fed. But people helping people can do pretty much anything; we can’t survive without each other.

Brave heart, Dear friends and don’t let the bastards grind you down.



BONUS CONTENT:

This is my beyond improvement recipe for custard. Because who doesn't like custard.

INGREDIENTS:

200ml double cream
700ml milk
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp cornflour
100g light musgavado sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Pour the cream and milk into a pan and bring to just below boiling point. 
In a bowl, whisk the yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla. 
Then gradually pour the hot milk mixture onto the sugar mixture, whisking constantly.

Wash out the saucepan and pour the mixture back into it. 
Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until the custard is thickened, but before any lumps form.