Kat #100Days


A largely themeless collection of what I'm thinking about.

7,966 words

#100Days - Day 016: The Bathroom

Yesterday's Spend:

  • £0.99 - lunch
  • £10.99 - dinner

Today we have someone from a local bathroom fitting company coming to give us a quote for completely re-fitting our bathroom. I knew about this, obviously, and it's why I'm working from home today instead of being in the office for my colleague's last day at the company, but I forgot how embarrassed I am of our house.

I've mentioned before that I really struggle keeping up with things day to day. I'll read articles that say things like "it doesn't take effort to brush your teeth every day, you just do it" and think "wait, it doesn't take effort for some people!?" because almost every thing I do from getting out of bed takes effort. All this to say: our house is not clean.

And I don't mean that in the sense that there's clutter all over the place (there are a few hotspots but it's not too bad). I mean it in the sense that the kitchen counters are sticky and I've no idea why, the bathroom floor is edged with grime, the windowsills have a speckling of mould, the livingroom is littered with little plant bits that the dog brings in on his fur, the floor in the study is covered with clumps of dust and hair that have been formed by us moving around in there. It's disgusting.

James doesn't see it and I'm too tired and overwhelmed to tackle it. I'm seriously considering hiring a cleaning service to at least do the bathroom and kitchen every other week. It would work out to about £70 per month, so cheaper than both the dog and LARPing-while-boarding-the-dog, but more expensive than any of my other non-essential expenses.

I was going to find a good image and write more, but I'm kind of done for today.

#100Days - Day 015: Socialising

Yesterday's Spend:

  • £7.45 - lunchI forgot about the "work book club" that meets about once a month during lunch. Since I normally buy lunch, I get pub food on those days. Oops.

Well. It would appear that the company may well fall apart without my good colleague, but it's too late now. To say he went above and beyond his job description with regard to the billing processes would be a colossal understatement.

Anyway, that's tomorrow's worries. Today is his leaving drinks and for once I'm going to attend. I don't drink alcohol, so I don't tend to get involved in those kinds of work socials, but this is the guy I've worked with most closely since our boss left last year, and one of the few people I'll actually have a conversation with on a day to day basis.

Plus he's the nexus of all office gossip, somehow.

Not much more to say, other than my spending freeze may well be taking another hit.

#100Days - Day 014: More work

Yesterday's Spend:

  • £0.96 - lunch

Good start!

Photo by Carlos Muza

Today I have most of the hand-over from the guy who is leaving the company. There is so much about the Dynamics system that I had no idea about, and now no one will have any idea about. That's what happened when our former boss left, and it was a massive pain for months. There's a real problem here with single points of failure, and now I'm a big one.

It creates a weird sense of loyalty, though. There are a lot of people here who say things like "if anything goes really wrong, just call me, I'll have my laptop" when they go on leave. I've even been one of them when the situation allowed. And most of us don't even have work phones, so that's a personal number. I have the number of the guy leaving (because he texted me the details of a plumber, not actually for anything work-related), and he's said if I need to I can call. He's even said if things get dire around one of the annual processes he can take a day's leave from his new job to come back and help. There's absolutely no way I'm letting that happen, and it probably wouldn't help because it would be in November (so I have six months to learn enough to take care of it anyway), but it illustrates the kind of effect this place has.

I used to be the kind of person who would not do a minute of work before 9am and instantly stop caring the second the clock hit 5pm. Now I usually get in at 8:30am, still leave at 5pm, except when I work from home I log off at 5:30pm when James gets home and don't take a formal lunch break, and I'll even log in over a weekend to make sure an automated process didn't break. Not that I'm the world's best employee or anything. There are days where I accomplish very little because I get carried away reading articles when I should be working, so it balances out in the end. Probably.

#100Days - Day 013: Money on the brain

Photo by Holger Link

I've been spending more than I should lately. It's not the end of the world, I'm in a pretty good place financially, but I could be doing much, much better.

What's worrying me is thinking about the cost of LARP. Most of my recent overspending has been in preparation for giving it another go, and while this year my parents very kindly agreed to house the dog for the two weekends I planned to attend, that's not something I can always rely on. Which means between the cost of the events themselves, food while there, petrol, and a boarder for the dog, it's almost £1000 over the course of a year. That's probably not a lot to some people, but it's more than I've ever considered spending on a hobby.

Right now I'm only keeping up with my budget because I'm taking home more than I budget for. The pension I get through work is a defined benefits scheme that currently costs 8.8% of my salary, but could cost as much as 12% in the coming years. In an effort to prevent this from "hurting", I stuck my salary in a take-home pay calculator with a 12% pension contribution and use that (rounded down to the nearest £10) as my "income" figure.

Another tactic I use is rounding all my outgoings to arbitrary intervals. I calculate all my known expenses into monthly figures as that's how often I get paid, so everything is rounded up to at least the nearest £1, usually the nearest £5, and in some cases the nearest £25. A £7 monthly phone bill becomes £10, a £930 annual LARP budget becomes £960 (i.e. £80 per month). In theory I should always have a decent cushion. In practice I've been spending that cushion.

What I really should do is instate a "spending freeze". I've tried before, and it worked, but I've been on a binge since then. On the plus side, that means I don't really "need" much now. I've been eyeing up a LARP-appropriate poncho after all the comments that my cloak was too thin, and am in dire need of some shirts I can wear to work now that the weather is warming up, but otherwise it's just consumables that need the occasional replenishing. Though I've been in dire need of work clothing for about a year now, I just put up with being a bit uncomfortable two days a week.

So! Since I'm already counting days off for this write-every-day challenge, I may as well freeze spending while it's happening.


  • Necessary housing expenses (Mortgage, Bills etc.)
  • Necessary dog expenses (food, vet billsHe's got some vaccinations due soon, insurance)
  • Phone, NetflixWe don't have a TV licence, so this is our only TV. And my whole family uses my account., and SpotifyThe subscription is James', I just pay for it.
  • Charity direct debits
  • Necessary toiletries (i.e. no stockpiling or trying new things)
  • Healthcare (prescriptions, dentist)
  • A birthday gift for James
  • LARP entry and food money
  • £1 per day for lunch during the week
  • Household emergencies (like the plumber last week)

Though with that list I'm still going to be spending a ton of money. And I'll probably buy the poncho, too.

You may notice the lack of mention of groceries, which is because James buys those. He's the one with a car, so he has to be present for all food shops anyway. I pay extra into the "necessary housing expenses" account to balance it out.

#100Days - Day 012: Videogames

I wasn't in a great mood while writing yesterday's entry, as was obvious. So let's go again.

On Saturday night, James and a friend of his went to a concert of Final Fantasy music. I never played the series (though have watched James play a couple of them) so it doesn't mean much to me, but the two of them grew up playing them, particularly FF7. Sunday morning, James booted up my PS3 and started playing it for the hundredth time. His friend then pulled out her Switch and started playing it, too. Feeling awkward and left out, I grabbed my 3DS and a Pokémon game (Alpha Sapphire). James and I saw Detective Pikachu on Friday night, so that's where my head was at.

I'd not touched it in a seriously long time, and as a kid I only played the first two generations, so it took a while to get back into it. I'd already got all the badges and the two available legendaries, so I was at a bit of a loose end at first. By the end of the day I was staying up past my bedtime to finish watching the cutscene after becoming the "champion". Having never reached this point in the game before, I was surprised to find a new plot line starts after explicitly seeing "The End" appear on the screen with a whole lot of credits. And that the parents in the game seem to have quite a strained marriage. I felt so bad for the mum, but all she'll do is make me rest if I talk to her.

Anyway, it felt nice to be absorbed into a game again. For some reason I've fallen out of the hobby. With plot-free games like the Sims or Minecraft or Zoo Tycoon I quickly lose interest, despite being able to waste days on them in former years. The games I have with clear progression are ones that require skill, and I can barely use a controller any more, which impacts the fun quite heavily. Instead I veg out in front of a documentary and feel guilty for not reading a book or following through on those goals I set out, or trying in vain to catch up on the housework.

But that's a great way to make myself miserable. I already know that I'm not the kind of person who can be "productive" all day every day. I can't even comprehend the people who can.

#100Days - Day 011: Always playing catch-up

Photo by Jake Givens

That's what life feels like to me. The house is always a state, work is always piling up faster than it can be done, milestones fall by the wayside as I struggle just to keep my head above water. So eventually I shut down. Stop working, stop cleaning, stop everything. But it's not restful, because the to-do list is still there, growing ever longer. For every day I spend reading articles instead of working there's a day I have to fit 14 hours' work into 7.

Today is one of those days I really resent the dog. Being woken up by him barking his head off at about midnight when James and a friend came home from a concert, then still having to get up at 7am to take him for a walk because he needs to toilet and our garden is too overgrown. And the sleep in between being patchy and not restful.

Yes, I am going to spend most days on this complaining about being tired. I'm always fucking tired.

#100Days - Day 010: Professional Bloggers

Photo by Arnel Hasanovic

I visit a lot of blogs, but I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with "professional bloggers". Probably because the niche I tend to focus on is minimalism and home organisation. It's a mix of stay-at-home mums "running a business from home" and single people waxing lyrical about how much of an impact they make with their words. And while I find it entertaining sometimes, I usually don't see the value.

That may sound hypocritical, given I'm writing this on a blog and it's not like I'm out there saving the world every day, but I'm not immune to this lack of value-seeing. My own job falls far short of being "valuable". And that is something that bothers me, that my skill set and abilities lend themselves perfectly to an analytical office role but would be beyond useless in primary or secondary industry. But at least I'm filling an existing need. If I weren't doing this job, the company I work for would have to hire someone else to do it (or another three people at this rate). If any one of these professional bloggers gave up on their blog (and judging by all the struck links on my list, as well as the dead links to other blogs in some of their archives, that happens a lot) would their unique position need to be refilled?

It just strikes me as arrogant to pontificate on how great it is "being your own boss" spouting philosophy while your living is paid by people who can't do the same. Because someone needs to be the backbone of civilisation and keep food in the markets and power in the cables and the infrastructure in repair. And the market for philosophical speakers can only support so many people. Once a few big names have been made, that's the niche filled.

I do wonder whether I'd feel more fulfilled in life if I did become part of that backbone. It would almost certainly require a complete change of career, which is off-putting. Where I am I make enough for a reasonably secure, comfortable life. And I work for a charity funded by a legally mandated subscription, so it's not like it's some greedy corporation chasing profits. It's a great place to work, it just feels kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things. But then "wherever you go, there you are", who's to say it wouldn't be yet another ill-fated decision to change the outside while it's the inside that's the problem.

#100Days - Day 009: The "G" word

Photo by Mitchell Lawler

The G word is "Goals". I hate goals. To me, goals are a looming shadow over life until the deadline passes and I am once again a failure.

Yesterday's ramble was in part inspired by the guilt I mentioned on Day004, where I'm somewhat letting the side down in terms of contributing to the podcast. There's just three of us at the moment; me, another player, and the GM. The other two are listening to all kinds of other podcasts to do shoutouts and promotion swaps, they're active on twitter both as themselves and on behalf of our podcast. Meanwhile I threw together a site on Wordpress and have a few half-started "newspaper articles" from the setting. Pretty weak.

So here are my Goals with a capital G:

  1. Listen back to all the podcast episodes and for each one:
    • Write an episode summary
    • Work out (or ask for) the date(s)
    • Make notes about various characters that would be found in a Wiki
    • Come up with at least one newspaper article idea from the plot (except for episodes 10 and 11)
  2. Write the articles
  3. Try to come up with potential website content

Not many points there, and no timeframe, but that's a ton of work. And while I'm effectively announcing it to the internet by putting it here, the others don't know about this blog so I'm not going to say anything specific until I have something to offer. The theory is then that there's no pressure. In practice, the shadow will loom just as dark. But I want to do something, and this is something. And I have a rare free weekend to help get me started.

Yoga freaked me out

We interrupt the #100Days challenge to bring you this special news bulletin:

At work today an instructor from a local yoga studio came to demonstrate some sat-at-a-desk yoga moves that could bring a lot of the benefits of yoga to a dreary office environment. Great, sign me up!

Except after about fifteen minutes I was not ok. I must have been doing something wrong, because when I tried to follow the deep breathing instructions anxiety started to spike. I tried to power through, but the entire point is to focus on your breathing, and I could just feel my heart pounding harder and faster as I took these slow, deliberate breaths.

Slow turned to shuddering as we started doing back stretches, my hands were sweating, my face felt hot, I couldn't juggle the movements and the breathing and the not-panicking. The instructor was going around the room correcting/helping people, when she got to me I just whispered "I'm sorry, I think I have to leave" and quietly got the hell out of there. When I got back to my desk I cried exactly three tears and felt a whole lot better.

This isn't the first time breathing exercises have brought me closer to panic attack than serenity. I have no idea what I'm doing wrong, but considering it defies conventional biological wisdom I must be doing something.

At least the yoga mat I bought last year will come in handy as a sleeping pad for LARP events.

#100Days - Day 008: Creativity, or lack thereof

Photo by Антон Воробьев
This isn't really a "creativity" picture, I just really like it.

I really would like to revive my creativity. That's sort of a justification for doing all this writing - maybe if I spend enough time wittering on about boring day-to-day shit it'll magically turn into something creative. At the moment it doesn't feel like that's possible, but may as well keep plugging on.

When I was little I had a lot of imaginary... things. I hesitate to say friends, it was more like weird scenarios that I'd play out. When putting on my socks in the morning, if they felt tight it was because "the twins" were trying to kill me using snare-like socks that would cut off my feet. Which sounds a lot more sinister than it felt, as in my mind they had the inepitude of the Home Alone villains, and the socks were "useless" once I stretched them out over my hands. Then the slightly more embarrassing one where if I was on the toilet and things were taking a long time, I would pretend to be a teacher talking to a class sat on the floor in front of me. I can't remember what I taught, if anything, but I was rather strict, and the girls were always much smarter and better behaved than the boys.

As I grew out of the imaginary friends stage, I swapped to attempting to write stories. At first it was like fanfiction, then heavy plagiarism. I never finished any, though. Then my attention was taken by "roleplay" online. By which I don't mean like the structured TTRPG campaigns I'm in now, but just collaborative storytelling.

Each participant has a character and can only control that character (it's very bad form to control someone else's character). Then they'll each contribute a paragraph or two of narrative in turn. You tend to end up with a lot of filler as people try to justify a short piece of dialogue. And fight scenes that go something like this:

Arthur charged toward Henry, his heavy plate armour clanking with each step. The hard ground rattled his brain. The sun made him sweat into his padding. The distance between them was closing fast. He held his sword high and slashed at his enemy's neck.

Henry ducked before lurching to the side, Arthur's sword striking his helmet and knocking him off-balance. Tightening his grip on his mace, he rolled out of reach and scrambled to his feet. He stepped forward with a sneer and swung his own weapon at Arthur's jaw.

Arthur leaned back to avoid the blow. He felt the wind of the mace on his chin as it whipped past. He took a step back to steady himself, you get the idea. I had a small group of friends*cough* Neopets guild that I'd roleplay with, similar to the TTRPG groups I'm in now. But gradually I drifted away from that online life into an offline one and "grew up" for want of a better term.

I did get to the point of having actual "originalin the sense that they weren't copied directly from a book I'd read, not in the sense that no one had ever thought of it before" ideas in my teens, but as my depression got worse I stopped doing basically anything. There are so many creative things I want to want to do, but when it comes down to it, I just sit in front of the TV stressing over everything I hate in my life. Super healthy.

#100Days - Day 007: Good days and bad days

I may have mentioned this already, but I have had depression of varying severity for about 16 years, and anxiety for literally as long as I can remember. It's caused me to drop out of two different degrees, so despite going to university for four years I don't have any formal qualifications from it. It's also probably the reason that I don't have many friends of my own (the people I see regularly are James' friends, primarily).

Mental health "issues" come with good days and bad days. I've been bouncing around between medications for years now, so I took an extended break between drugs for the past couple of months. Lots of bad days there, but not as many as I was expecting. The added work stress has hit me hard, though, so back on the drugs we go.

Photo from freestocks.org

The issue I keep having with the various medications is that it doesn't feel like they're doing anything. Then I wean off and realise that yes, they really were, just not enough to eradicate the feeling like shit.

I hate being reliant on pills, though. Having to remember to take them every day, and make sure I have some with me if I'm going to spend a night anywhere else, and get a refill when I run out. That's pretty much the entire reason I switched to the implant for birth control. Though that may well be making the depression worse, so that's got to go too. Eventually. They have to be taken out after three years, which is August this year. I'm going to miss not having periods.

I've become a bit sidetracked here. The point I wanted to make was that these daily posts are going to vary wildly in tone depending on whether it's a good day or a bad day. And it'll be interesting to see what effect the medication will have. I started taking it on Monday, so that's Day005. It was a bad enough day to motivate that change. They say it takes up to a month to have a real effect, but there's always the placebo effect to look out for!

#100Days - Day 006: Online Relics

The other day I rediscovered the songs released by The Guild webseries cast. That's a show that ended in 2013, but I think stopped watching it a couple of years before that. It sent me on a weird nostalgia trip.

Somewhere along the way I looked at my Bookmarks toolbar. I had cleared it out about two years ago, but a couple of odd ones stayed. Like a link to this image on Imgur (though I've uploaded it to my own host now to be polite):

I do like it as a thing, but I'm in a serious relationship with a guy who has a degree in evolutionary biology, our social circle doesn't include creationists, and I have no interest in seeking any out to bicker with. There is absolutely no reason to have that bookmarked. Though I've now got it saved in my blog, so I don't have to think of it as "lost".

Another funny one is this list of Minecraft item IDs. I do love the game, though I don't play it much any more. And since I found a save editor that I pretty much exclusively use to swap between creative and survival modes there's no need to have an ID list to hand.

Then there are the ones that represent the person I want to be rather than the person I actually am. Guides on how to write, tell stories, and write convincing dialogue. And a link to Ted.com that I don't think I've ever clicked.

It's a lot easier to let go of these things than the physical clutter in my house, especially since they're now all linked in this post. I guess this amounts to meaningless procrastination. Nothing new there.

#100Days - Day 005: Overwhelmed

That's pretty much what I'm feeling right now. I can't think of anything else, so I've nothing else to talk about.

I'm feeling very suffocated at the moment. I already mentioned my work troubles, that has officially kicked off this week with being asked to do several things I don't know how to do. I have been a bit naughty in that I worked from home without having cleared it with anyone, but since I don't have a boss and both of the people I'm "reporting" to in the mean time weren't in the office today I figured it wouldn't matter.

On top of that, the dog has been driving me crazy. Not only is most of my life dictated by his needs, he's taken to barking at almost anything that vaguely resembles another animal on TV. This includes footage of real animals, CGI animals, cartoon animals, human actors speaking in squeaky voices, any kind of person or object moving quickly across the screen, and at one point two human actors having a conversation in a very dark scene. I may have lost my temper and shouted at him to shut up earlier today. Now he's being much less clingy than usual, and I feel like a monster. Though that may be because he's enjoying lying in the sunshine more than trying to force his way onto my lap.

Then there's the house. In a word, it's disgusting. I mean, I've been in worse, but it still kills me how everything is cluttered and varying levels of dirty. I have the start of a plan, though. For £30 a fortnight we could have a cleaner to at least keep the bathroom and kitchen from getting too disgusting. It'd have to be while I was home to run interference with the dog, because it's not fair to expect someone to deal with that at their job. If I put less into savings and cut back on my non-specific spending I can just about swing it financially.

But it's only the start of a plan, because before that can happen we need to declutter and clean off the more heinous grime. It's just embarrassing at this point. The garden is a whole other problem, though that's meant to be James' area.

Late night edit: And to top it all off, this evening when I was getting out of the shower, I couldn't turn off the hot tap. Our hot tap has been on the verge of breaking for a long while, we're currently saving to have the bathroom re-done, but today it finally gave out. £210 emergency plumber call, hooray.

I also forgot to mention another thing about the dog. Our lawn is very overgrown and absolutely chock full of impossibly small slugs. We have a very small, fluffy dog. Every evening he gets let out for a before-bed pee and comes in carrying at least three slugs that need to be coaxed or cut out of his fur before he sits on them and they get firmly embedded.

Now I'm going to bed before anything else can happen.

#100Days - Day 004: Tabletop RPGs

Last night we recorded an interview for "What's Your Role?" talking about the actual-play podcast I stumbled into being a part of. This afternoon we had people over for what must be one of the last few sessions of Fallout: Florida, the games James is GM-ing.

This really hasn't helped with the tiredness issue.

Anyway, the interview last night made me feel incredibly guilty. Being asked what my favourite moment listening back was - I haven't actually listened back to it. Being asked what I do to prepare for sessions - I literally just show up and consider it a win if I remember what we were doing. I take the same approach for all the other games I'm in. There are three campaigns on the go amongst our local friends at the moment. Theoretically they all run every other week, (James' every other Sunday, the other two on alternating Fridays) but due to people being "busy" and now LARP season starting up that's very much in the realm of theory.

I get disproportionately annoyed by people being "busy". It's one thing when our usual host has people visiting for the weekend, but when it's something like "oh I have to clean the house", or no reason at all it just pisses me off. There are two or three of the guys who are just absurdly flakey. Meanwhile I've rearranged my work schedule to work from home on Fridays so we can leave the dog alone for the evening. We play so infrequently that I'm starting to lose interest in the campaigns, to be honest. Not that I can say that to anyone without being the arsehole.

#100Days - Day 003: LARP

I mentioned yesterday that I went to a LARP event for the first time last weekend. I'm still not sure what I made of it, but have resolved to at least go one more time, to see if my experience is better when armed with a sleeping bag that's rated for negative temperatures. Bonus being I can use my old sleeping bag as padding on the hard ground.

And I have a weakness for the stuff, to be honest. Having a belt with all my crap hanging from it feels good - though "all my crap" at the moment is a leather pouch that I stuffed biscuits and tissues in, plus a tankard I bought so I'd have something to drink out of. Since coming home, though, I've gone a bit mad. I've bought a new sleeping bag, gloves and tights to stay warm, a pocket watch because I got sick of having to ask people the time, a little drawstring pouch to keep the watch in, a round carabiner so I don't have to undo my belt every time I want to use my tankard... All that added to more than £100, the event itself was £60 and I spent another £60 while there. I don't remember how much I spent on stuff to go in the first place, but thanks to charity shops and family costume bits it wasn't too much. This is not a cheap hobby.

Anyway, for the actual in-character portion of the weekend I was a bit adrift. I tend toward skill monkeys over combat characters in RPGs, and I didn't want to get into the actual people swinging at me even if they are pulling their punches with padded weapons. So that left me with the options of magic, alchemy, or crafting as my main "thing". James is an alchemist, and is taking a lot of magic veteran picksEach year if you attend the right events you can pick a new skill to add to your character for a maximum of 7., so I decided to go for crafting.

One little problem there. Crafting is expensive. In order to craft you need tools and materials. Tools either need to be made (which in turn requires tools and materials and either someone to teach you or literal years of research) or bought for many, many gold. Materials must also be bought, unless you have the "ScroungeOnce per day you can "find" natural resources that are common in the area." veteran pick, which sucks because I took the "Ranger" skill thinking that was the one I needed, but that only lets you forage for alchemy ingredients.

Each event a normal player gets two silver coins, and there are four events per year. Four silver coins makes one gold, so that's two gold a year if you go to all the events. Until the leader of the country calls for "taxes" because they need more money too.

Some people sell cakes and the like for in-game money. That's probably the avenue I'll have to take, if I can move past the sheer terror and anxiety of having to wander around the different camps to do it.

#100Days - Day 002: Tired

I am so tired. I've been living in that weird mental state where everything feels like a waking dream since Saturday.

Last Friday I finally took the plunge, after nearly four years of it being an option, and went to a LARP event with my boyfriend James. Unfortunately, this involves camping, which is probably the biggest reason I've not been before, and it was unseasonably fucking freezing. Frost on the ground at 7am in the South of England is some wintery bullshit.

As I've never camped before (beyond the odd night as a child in someone's back garden) all I had by way of equipment was a nearly 20-year-old sleeping bag (the red one). Shocking no one, this was not enough. James' tent is marketed as having a 4-man capacity, so it was cosy but still fairly spacious with us and our stuff. But there's not really room for an air mattress or camp bed, so he has neither.

Friday night I did not sleep. I may have drifted off for a few minutes here and there, but I definitely felt every crawling hour, and I was checking the time every half. I was wearing socks, pajama trousers, jogging trousers, a t-shirt, a hoodie, and a faux-suede sleeveless jerkin with a cloak spread over the top of my sleeping bag and I was still full-body shivering all night.

Thankfully one of James' friends had a spare blanket and sleeping pad thing she could lend us, which helped enormously. I still had to wear all those layers, but I wasn't shivering any more, so at least I got a little sleep. With a short nap each day while the rest of the faction were on the battlefield I managed to stay relatively alive.

The only problem is I haven't actually caught up on the lost sleep. Thanks to the dog I have to get up at 7am every day to let him out and walk him, then feed him. By the time I've been up for an hour my head has filled with all the things I have to do and there's no way I can quiet it for long enough to fall back to sleep. And between having so much work to catch up on and eating far too late, getting to bed early hasn't gone as well as I'd hoped.

We have a Star Wars: Force and Destiny game tonight, I have an "interview" for the podcast I'm in tomorrow evening, and we have an All Flesh Must Be Eaten game on Sunday afternoon. Then it's back to work on Monday. I plan to spend most of Saturday napping.

#100Days - Day 001

I've been neglecting this blog-thing, so I've gone for a clean start. All my old rambling has been taken down (except my bookmarks, those are useful) and I've just learned about a challenge to fill the place back up. Specifically the Listed 100 Days Challenge (as is obvious by this post title).

I'm now sure how well I'll do at it, based on what the author of that challenge post is saying. "Do you know how in the middle of a conversation with someone else, you just think of something to say, to always keep the conversation flowing?" - actually no, conversations are incredibly difficult for me.

Still, may as well follow the prompt. I'm going to take this challenge to get back into using this blog-thing enough that I'll actually feel comfortable just calling it a blog.


Photo by Fancycrave

Today is a day of stress for me, at least in the world of work. We learned last month that one of the guys in my team is leaving the organisation. It's a great opportunity for him and that's fantastic, but I'm also super mad at him.

We're in the Data & Technology team, which means that we deal with all the IT systems. There's a very clunky case-handling system (which was set up by my old boss many, many years ago and seems to be held together with string and chewing gum), two web applications, a Dynamics instance (that is used for "membership" as well as all billing and invoicing), and then all the general hardware and software of a company's day to day IT needs.

My colleague who is leaving is the Dynamics guy. Half of it was built by an external company, the other half he built himself. He and I share looking after the case-handling system, and then I have my own work facilitating the flow of data between the various systems and the web apps, as well as internal and external reporting and data analysis. All the servers and laptops and infrastructure stuff is maintained by the third and final member of our team. Though he has a new report to take on "first line support+", so that's a small relief.

Anyway, the original plan was to hire a good technical temp to take over before recruiting to replace the guy leaving (and then to replace the guy who left a couple of months ago who used to report to him). This is all while we've been interviewing for a new manager for the team as we've been without one since about November, and without a good one since August. Unfortunately, the past few weeks of interviews have apparently been appalling, so with my colleague's notice period running out it's a case of either I step in or shit will hit the fan. Which is a horrible mixed metaphor, but kind of apt.

At least my job has never been more secure?

Standard Notes vs. Boostnote


As ever in the technical world, it's about the right tool for the job.

In my work I write an awful lot of SQL queries for reporting. I also dabble in VBA, C#, and the occasional JSON. To make this less of a chore, I keep an archive of every query/module/line I've used in a "code library". In the course of the last two years I've amassed a few hundred examples that I've been keeping in Standard Notes. I love Standard Notes, enough that this blog-type-thing is run through it (using the Listed extension), and it was the winner out of half a dozen note-keeping applications that I tried. So I was quite surprised to discover that Boostnote is much better. For my code library, that is. Though given it was designed for programmers, that does make sense.

Notes are stored encrypted online (barring published notes), synced locally upon sign-in

Notes are stored unencrypted locally, no online sync by default

As a vaguely paranoid person, both of these are appealing. Encryption is of course a great protection, but not having the data online in the first place makes it much less important if you've put any effort into securing your machine. For personal notes, archives, and anything else I'll want to access from both my home computer and work laptop, Standard Notes is an ideal solution. For my work code library, Boostnote not needing a password and storing all data within company control is much more suitable.

Plain text editor only by default, paid extensions to add (many) other options

Choice between markdown and code editors by default, selected when creating note

This is one where, despite the additional features of Boostnote, I prefer Standard Notes. When creating a note in Standard Notes, you click the "new note" button and start typing. If you have the paid version and want to change the editor, that can be done whenever. In Boostnote clicking the "new note" button brings up a screen where you choose between "Markdown" and "Code Snippet" and once that choice is made there's no switching. Which makes sense given how they are structured, but adds an impediment to recording what's needed, and gets pretty annoying when creating a lot of notes quickly. The syntax highlighting is nice, but not something I prize too highly. I'd rather have bracket pairs highlighted as Notepad++ does, though neither application has that.

A note is a note, nothing fancy

"Snippet" notes can have multiple tabs for related code, markdown notes have a "preview" pane

I very much enjoy the multi-tabbed feature, it's one of the reasons I chose to migrate to the platform. I do wonder whether my enthusiasm in downsizing my note total will come back to haunt me, though. At the time of writing this I've deleted about 100 entries from Standard Notes and only created 41 in Boostnote.

Searches within title, text and tags of notes, highlights search term everywhere

Searches within title, text and tags of notes, highlights search term in text of notes only

There's very little difference in the search functionality of these applications. I have noticed a couple of times that Boostnote will sometimes drop letters I've typed as it tries to live-filter the results, but otherwise they're about even on this.

Filter by individual tag, search within that tag

Filter by multiple tags, intersecting tags highlighted after selecting one

I organise my code snippets by language, project, application, and sometimes by the individual who requested the report. In Standard Notes I can pick one of these categories and perform a search. In Boostnote I can pick all of those categories, but entering a search term resets the view to "All notes" regardless of what was previously selected. Searching within a tag in Standard Notes didn't really make much difference compared to searching across all notes, so it doesn't feel like a loss to not be able to do so in Boostnote. The multi-tag-selection, however, is fantastic, and is another reason I decided to migrate.


Misc links

Anything But Plastic | Notebook Refills | Colour Blender | Favicon Generator | DoxZoo

Photo by Ben White


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