Monday, March 09, 2020


Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!

This will be a short post this week as I’ve had family visiting so haven’t really got up to much worth blogging about.

I’m currently blogging to you from a world in which toilet paper can only be obtained on the black market and we all greet each other with the Vulcan salute. These are interesting times.

Speaking of interesting times, I have spent the last week engaged in a war on Duolingo. After finding myself promoted to the Obsidian League I also found myself immediately in first place. For seven days and seven nights I did battle with all those who would steal my throne!

Luckily I prevailed and progressed to the Diamond League… Where I was immediately dropped to 45th place because the Diamond League is not a place for chancers like me. In the process of trying to keep my place at the top of the Obsidian League I had to add more languages to my Duolingo just to keep up with my rivals, so in addition to Welsh I’m learning Irish and Scots Gaelic. I love seeing the similarities between all three and despite my general ineptitude with languages I’m looking forward to learning more.

Staying with learning, I have taught myself to make peshwari naan bread. I used a yeast free recipe so they were really quick to make. I need to improve the coconut and almond mix that goes inside but they went really well with my prawn yellow curry.

The curry has just the right amount heat and has an oceans worth of prawns in it. I’m getting hungry now.

Continuing on with food, I recently went to a seed swap and got some Marande tomato seeds. Which was great timing as this week marks Solarpunk action week! It’s basically a week to do anything that makes your life a little more self-sufficient or environmentally friendly.

I’ve already planted my potatoes in the round tub, sowed some summer spinach and carrots as well as putting some leeks and the tomatoes in seed trays.

My other plans for Action Week include:
  • Finish building the insect hotel.
  • Finish painting the veg beds.
  • Put the first flowers into the troughs.
  • Get a sourdough starter going.
  • Give a bit of TLC to the plants that have been bunkered down in the cold frame.
  • Repot my Purple Beauty Pepper plants.
  • Research growing mushrooms.

Obviously some of this requires the weather to calm its tits. Which even for wales has been taking the piss lately. So here’s hoping.

Speaking of Wales I urge you to check out the app AM it brings together loads of Welsh cultural and creative content and I’ve really enjoyed looking through it. Here’s a link for the Google play store.

In other content related I’m sad to hear that The Magicians is ending after five seasons. I’ve never read the books but I really loved this show. Season one asked what would happen if teenagers went to magic school (Answer: they get high and have sex) then found a Narnia type land through a magic clock? The characters are really interesting and well represented with some excellent story arcs. And the musical episodes are always a solid A+. I’m going to miss it.

Okay I’m going to call it quits there. I’m hoping next week will be the second scriptwriting post with the next instalment of the Kingdom Cwm pilot.

Brave heart, dear friends and don’t let the bastards get you down.

Monday, March 02, 2020


Shwmae from the banks of the river Lleidi!

Storm Jorge has struck and once again Welsh communities are dealing with continued flooding as well as the potential risk of coal tips. So I’m again linking to Michael Sheen’s Go Fund Me which is raising money for those affected by the flooding. Please consider donating if you can.

Understandably the weather has featured in a lot of conversations this last week and almost every boomer I’ve talked to has mentioned dredging canals as a solution to the flooding. Now, obviously I am not an expert but I’ve called bollocks on this for three – I feel – painstakingly obvious reasons: the first – when the flooding is as severe as it has been then dredging is only going to mitigate the situation by a few inches. Which would mean nothing to the people worst affected. The second – dredging just makes it easier for the water to flow so all it will do is make things worse for whichever community is unfortunate enough to live further down. And the third – dredging is just going to lead to erosion of the banks, which I assume, would just make flooding worse. There are probably more reasons, but like I said I’m not an expert. My part solution (which has upset every boomer I’ve suggested it to) would be to look at the worst affected canals, fill them in and plant a load of trees on top. It’s not going to stop flooding overall but it would mitigate far more in certain areas than dredging would. So yeah, plant more fucking trees.

Sticking with the outdoors theme, I was – for about two hours – able to get out into the garden and start painting the veg beds.

Didn’t get to finish before the sun disappeared and the wind picked up. It’ll need finishing and a second coat but is going to look cool paired with the red bench I built.

My aim is that by summer the garden will be a riot of colour… or just a riot as I fend of vegetable thieves in the post-brexit coronavirus apocalypse world.

Speaking of coronavirus and the apocalypse, I have to admit that I do suffer from a slight case of doom prep anxiety. It’s a weird affliction to deal with. I think though it’s because I’ve never lived with any circumstances that have required emergency preparedness. I read tweets of people living in California who are prepped for wild fires, people that live in Northern countries that regularly deal with heavy snow and even people here in Wales that have to prepare for floods. They live with the need to be prepared. Plus I don’t think it helps when most of the people in my social circle don’t pay much attention to these kinds of goings on in the world so I kind of feel like Chicken Little declaring that the sky is falling when I mention considering how to be prepared for an emergency. Anyway, I’ll be building a bunker under garden as soon as it stops raining.

Backtracking, I put out a Tumblr post looking for Welsh Solarpunks and I think the majority of people that engaged with the post just liked the flag I put together.

To be fair, any flag with a dragon on is bound to be awesome. *cough* The Welsh flag is best *cough*

Speaking of amazing creatures, this is a very cool exploration of the ocean, all the way down to the very bottom. And I love how simple it is, just scroll.

Continuing with interesting things to look at, these two films from over a hundred years ago have been restored to 4K resolution at 60fps by a neural network AI. It’s really fascinating and I’d love to see the same process applied to more black and white movies.

Staying with tech developments, this is a teeny bit of a concern and it just reinforces why I wanted to start this blog. If I had the resources and ability I’d copy Robin Sloan and build my own social network something like Twitter but just for fifty people, no more. That fifty would likely be able to generate a large deal of information so I’d probably wipe all the posts every year and have a clean slate. I wouldn’t be surprised if that becomes more of a reality in future. Just like back in the day when creating your own message board was the thing, being able to create a small scale social network will be a thing, if it isn’t already.

So I’ve mentioned previously about creating a project that works with non-profits to develop their digital skills. I’ve been thinking a lot this week about approaches to R&D and project prototyping that would be useful for a non-profit.   Most don’t do any R&D which is really surprising, when I worked for a non-profit I spent just an hour a week researching other organisations and projects and writing short outlines of how they would work with our organisation. Then I’d pass these on to my manager and there would always be some sort of shock or confusion about why I was doing it. I always had to explain that it seemed an obvious part of my job.

So I’ve also been looking at Design Sprints; thinking about how particularly in organisations with volunteers who are passionate about a cause, you could in theory design sprint a project again with little to no cost to an organisation. It’s still all gestating in my head and every day I read something new that radically morphs how I think about all this. One of the interesting things to me is that the charity sector seems to be in a similar place to where the film industry was about twelve years ago. When you think about how franchises, particularly superhero franchises, have evolved to develop an audience and keep them interested in between films. The charity sector is now at this point where it’s figuring out how to build an audience, keep them interested in their work and when needed encourage donations. It’s fascinating but also a bit depressing seeing the lack lustre attempts to address it. But it’s been fun to research and work the problems into something that could – I hope – be useful. Honestly, if you’re a creative looking to do something different or more socially conscious, there is a creative deficit in the charity sector that is a smorgasbord of interesting challenges.

Okay I think I’m going to wrap this up, I’m writing this on Sunday night, I’ve just watched Doctor Who and all I will say it that was not good television, which is a shame because Jodie Whittaker is a brilliant Doctor. 

And lastly my newsletter count now down to: 175.

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