here are my thoughts
65,102 words

Note 61

Drinking: N/A

Listening to: Fynn Kliemann- Pop, Sonreal- One Long Dream

Notable songs: Alles was ich hab- Fynn Kliemann

Month end review

Hello

It's May 31st. As it's the end of the month I'd like to do another month end review. I'm still figuring out what I want to do with these and how to work out what works best for me.

Good decisions- 3

Answered the question's the Xbox gave me.
It was a frustrating process of figuring myself out and unpacking my motivations. Over the course of a weekend I had settled turbulent thoughts that had plagued me for more than a week. I quelled my desire to purchase an xbox.

Talking to my neighbour
Another longstanding source of anxiety for me, my dad has been losing sleep and always talking about the stress he has found in opposing a neighbours decision to redevelop their house. Paranoia within me whispered about the ways in which the neighbour could lash back at us. Scenes from the myriad of spy shows shone through my minds' eye. This deeply unsettled me because I had already become attached to the guy and thought him decent. One day I bumped into him after work and sought to mend the bridge between our houses. I firmly believe that communication heals most wounds. Sometimes one must communicate physically, however first one must talk and connect. We did, and good came of it.

Read more books.
I have always thought of myself as a reader. Even during the long dry spells of rotting my brain on the internet, I believed that I shall return to my books. They are a safe space for me; A library, a castle. However over time, these dry spells increased and my focus grew dimmer as internet companies such as reddit, imgur and youtube took greater hold of my mind and thus my time. In response I set up blocks on my laptop and phone, limiting my access to those materials. This made it easier to fall into the habit of reading more as they shone greater now. In the past month I have read the following books: Meditation: theory and practice (64 pages); Warrior woman, Laurie Paige (260 pages); The Running Man, Stephen King (317 pages); Entre Nous, Debra Ollivier (242 pages).

Bad decisions- 3

Over the past month and a half I pretty much stopped using my floss. I know this is a bad decision as it's a foundational part of keeping teeth clean, especially cramped teeth as I have. I don't know why I stopped. I just did.

To continue this theme, there are two more aspects that I'm concerned about. My dentist has insisted that I shouldn't rinse my mouth with water after cleaning my teeth; I should just spit. However no-one in my family has ever done that. It also seems unsafe to swallow a fair bit of toothpaste when you next drink something. Especially considering all the fears my mum has given me about fluoride. So I stopped doing that and just resumed my normal process of cleaning my teeth.

And finally I've been drinking a lot of apple cider vinegar in my teas recently. I enjoy the flavour and I like the idea that it's good for me. It falls in line with the idea of small doses of dangerous things being good for me. This all said, I'm still concerned about it's impact on my enamel. My mum (again) has railed against it in one of her few times that she stands with the dental community. I haven't mentioned it to my dentist yet as he would likely bollock me.

Unexpected events- 3

On the last day of the month this happened. I had a conversation with S that I had been afraid of. I had come to terms with not speaking to her anymore. I felt that that would be the safest for me. I didn't want to break it off. But it felt like the correct decision. The day before this conversation, I had scheduled another chat with my cousin to prepare myself for it and seek counsel from her. She had gone out and forgotten her phone at home for a spontaneous trip with her boyfriend. They only came back to the house shortly before they had guests. We had our prep convo the next day at 7:30am, a few hours before the chat with S was planned. She reminded me of a few foundational things that I would like to clarify that could open up new options between 0 and 1.

With these new options in my head I waited for the appointment with S. It came, I rung and no answer. I texted half an later to prod her. After being cooped up until 12, I decided to go on a walk. I didn't want to have my phone with me in case she rings back. Seeing as she hadn't seen the whatsapp message and didn't answer her phone and had no indication of disinterest in the conversation I took it that her phone was left at home. She only texted me back at 5pm. I was surprised that I wasn't upset at the gap. There wasn't the usual petulant self pitying posturing that accompanied her lack of attention. That was the first surprise.

The second was uncovered through the conversation. I learnt that she would be busy for at least 6 months. She would actually want to go out with me. It's not just a smoke screen or a nice way to say hard no. And she's got nothing against me seeing other women in the mean time. Damn. I did not expect any of that. I had already come prepared with the eulogy of our relationship. So now I'm okay with keeping steady contact with her (though less often). And I can actually look forward to returning to salsa with my whole body. For me, the light flirting and learning better how to is part of it. The sexual tension adds sublimity to the dance.

On a different tack, the third surprise is how satisfying Entre Nous was to read. As previously discussed, this is a book for women to learn from the culture and mindset of french women. Various facets of daily life are included in the analysis: La Tete, Le Corps, Le Coeur, La Cuisine, La Fete, La Maison and La Travail et Le Loisir. For the time being I don't have google translate to help me put these to English. I picked it up because I thought it might be funny. I finished feeling invigorated to turn a new leaf in many facets of my own life.

Mile stones hit

50 days of publishing on my blog

This one sort of crept up on me. A week and a half prior, I was aware that it would happen soon. However since I took a break on weekends my schedule changed a bit so my knowledge was out of date. I only realised that the day happened after I wrote a post for the day.

50,000 words reached on my blog

This one crept up on me even more. Unlike the daily posts when I'm aware that progress is being made (is X a weekday? Then progress = true) with the number of words, it was vaguer. In addition, I hadn't looked at my blog for a few days, so the number jumped forward inzwischen. When I saw I'd hit 50k I was a bit flustered. I've planned to reward myself with something for it, but I haven't pushed it into reality yet.

100 days of studying German vocabulary with Anki

Until I had a readjustment I hadn't considered this one a milestone. Although I was greedily looking at the progress being made, my protestant work ethic mindset considered it simply part of my life now, so I shouldn't be celebrating it. Like celebrating getting dressed every morning. This isn't that healthy or realistic. Considering that I've only been doing it for just over 3 months compared to the 250+ months of my life so far, it's not hit critical mass yet. So until it hits a year, I'm gonna check myself for complacency. As that's when I run the greatest risk of falling off the horse.

Plan for next month

Today I have meditated twice. Two blocks of 5 minutes. I was inspired by 2 books to do so. The first is a book called The way of the peaceful warrior by Daniel Millman. I find it very satisfying to read, and although I find it difficult to read such a mix between biography and fiction, I see myself clearly within the main character; I look forward to reading further. The second was a book on meditation that was first published in 1936. The edition I have is the eleventh edition published in 1981. It gives some structure but not enough for me yet. I may need to revisit its contents to better come to terms with it. I imagine attending a class would bring benefits, however my life already feels so full. I need to consider all my options.

Upon light research and exploration of the topic of phone usage. I re-remembered that it is recommended by many smart men and women to not create a home in your bedroom for your phone. I would like to focus my energies on this, as I have found great pleasure and contentedness in using my phone less often.

For the immediate future, I can see that I can use my ipod as an alarm. This will allow me to let my phone live downstairs in the living room. I mentioned to dad that this is best when the whole household participates with it. He was jokingly apprehensive, but we shall see whether he jokes were in earnest.

By Winter, I plan to purchase a light therapy alarm clock to assist in regulating my sleep schedule whilst the days are shorter. This will also benefit during the summer time. Although I could purchase other curtains to use in my room come next summer.

So that's the whole of May. It had ups and downs but I enjoyed it. I don't know what there will be come June. Whether the lockdown will rise or lower. But I'm more hopeful now.

Note 57

Drinking:

Listening to:

Notable songs:

Hello

It's 7:44. I woke at 7 to my alarm. In the time between I edited and published yesterday's post and explained Naruto to my dad.

Yesterday was a better day.

In the morning I had left over's microwaved and an adjustment to my omelette recipe. I looked up omelette recipes with yoghurt to see how other people cook it. Instead of finding a close parallel to my own, I found many recipes that include a yoghurt based filling for the omelette. Until that point I had forgotten that one can do that. Immediately I had a lot more options for breakfast. I decided to use some fancy cheese for it. I can't remember the name of it, it's a Spanish cheese made of a mix of goat, sheep and cows milk. I believe it was Iberico. It came together really well and is one of the best looking omelette's I had made bis jetzt.

After breakfast I watched a video from HowtoADHD on Dopa-menus. This was an abstract idea that one of her friends suggested for managing one's doapmine needs throughout the day. He suggested formalising one's options before the need arises to minimise regretful decisions being made. She expanded upon this metaphor with a lot of cool ideas. Like less satisfying things can be refereed to as desserts. Things like Facebook or youtube or video games can fall under this category. Another category is specials, this can include things that are satisfying, but one can't do regularly. This can include things like holidays and other big events. I'm excited about this idea as I think it can gel well with the other mental concepts and structures that I've been using in my life. I can fit it into my life as options for rewards at milestones, whether big or small.

At work we spent the day on setting the base together for the coal store's new home. Setting up the hard core was a complicated process. More challenging than I expected. After this got to a good point, we started focusing on the coal store itself. As it's incredibly heavy and still half filled with coal (~2m cubed), we couldn't just push it over. So we looked to the lid and considered the best process to move it off. We got it onto some chairs but couldn't figure a safe way to get it onto the floor; we returned it to the top of the store. At that point it was 6pm so I clocked off.

In the evening I texted S to organise a chat on Sunday to give me closure. I basically want to explain that for my own mental health, I can't keep chatting with her as I'll always have that feeling of "oh this is almost something". I need to move forward. A lot of my thoughts were built off of a conversation I had with A earlier in the evening. It cleared my head and gave me a woman's perspective on the matter. It was strange because it felt the most engaged that Steph had been since time.

Note 55

Drinking: Nothing

Listening to: RMF Cuba

Notable songs: Tito Puentes- Ove Lo Que Tiene El Mango; Aventura- Bachata obsession bachiata

Hello.

It's 7:05. I woke up 10 minutes ago; it was before my alarm. My room was really hot last night and I hat to get up aat 3:30am before, so it was a bit interrupted. On the plus side, I took a friend's advice on how to sleep and my left shoulder isn't hurting at all. My right shoulder is still really painful, but it's nice for there to just be one in pain, rather than both.

Yesterday was a brilliant day. In the morning I had my latest iteration of omelette. I have found it to be particularly delicious with 1/2tsp karuterling mix and 1 tbsp yoghurt. Mixed well with a fork, it gets poured into a non stick pan that has had a tbsp of butter foaming in it on a medium heat. It's then left there to brown and then cook through without a lid. It's then slid out onto the plate, folded in the process.

For work we planned to move the coal store that the previous tenant foolishly built on to the patio. Instead we focused our energies entirely on bringing the flower bed to a good stage. There is currently a few rhododendron plants and a bunch of tulips there. In addition there is a great many nettles that have made themselves comfortable. In response to this, my dad has spent the majority of the past week taking the nettles to task and gradually forking over and sieving the soil to get rid of the dense network of roots found within. With the roots and all of the extra green material from this area and another compost heap, we brought together 8 ton bags 2/3 filled with green waste. It was quite satisfying taking them to the skip.

My work began by gradually raking over the area with a fine and wide rake. This was to get rid of the loose roots one sees on the top of the soil, along with other debris. We then began the process of shaping the soil. My dad mentioned that there is currently a high level of soil in the middle of the bed, where the tulips and rhododendron live. I suggested to make use of the excess soil, rather than levelling it across the board, we should make it aa feature so the soil slopes downward from back to front. He didn't enthusiastically agree, but he began doing the process. It's hard to say if he wanted to or if he just didn't want an argument. We used the wheelbarrow to move large quantities of soil from the front of the bed to the back.

Before lunch, I gave my mum a ring. I had planned to update her with health advice that my nurse friend gave for her after I explained to the friend my mum's incessant headache. My mum was very appreciative. After we got the important part out of the way, I thought to myself that she would like to do a video chat. Slowly, I showed her how to navigate to do so over whatsapp using verbal instructions over the phone. Soon enough it worked out and we could see each other for the first time in more than a week. It was a really pleasant experience and I got to show her all of the progress we made throughout the house and the garden.

During the lunch hour I decided not to have a rest as I wasn't particularly tired and it's frustrating for me to go to bed and have to get back to work soon after.

After lunch I got a text from another good friend of mine. He told me some good news that I had been fretting about a few days ago. A couple of weeks ago, I had bought him a CD of Jorja Smith. Until now, I hadn't received word about it except that it had been dispatched. I was afraid that something had gone wrong with it as another gift I planned on sending him had not worked out. Luckily this one did and he was very appreciative. He told me that his dad had called him downstairs, explaining that there was package for him. Confused he said he didn't order anything. He saw it was cd shaped and was even more confused. He opened it up and realised that it had to be from me as I was the only person he talked about that artist with recently.

We had a good chat, and as it went so well with my mum I decided to give him a video chat too. It was the first time I'd seen him in 9 weeks so it was quite surreal. It was good to see him. Whilst I was talking with him about the pros and cons of driving, another friend barged in with a couple calls to me on another line. Realising there was an element of urgency from him, I explained the situation and wished the other a good day. I accept the call from the other friend and we have a really good chat. He tells me that he listened to the 50th post that I shared with him and others that morning. He found it to cause cogs to turn in his brain and it gave him something to chew over. I was really excited to hear that my writing had an impact on him. He then told me that it's exciting for him too as he feels like he's watching the beginning of a writers journey. I was giddy to hear it.

We talked more about writing and revisited some topics that came up on our photo walk. One of those was the idea of being a rapper. I'm already put off by the idea of it, but it doesn't feel as far removed from my reality when I look to people like Benjamin Coyle-Larner (Loyle Carner) who have quite a bit in common with myself. I would quite like to begin with the foundations in something that feels less of a big scary jump. I want to do some poetry. I don't really know much about it, but it would allow me to tap into the body of songs that I've greedily drunk in in the last 15 years. After such a large input, I think it's natural for an output to follow. Mosley also recommends getting a strong understanding of poetry as he considers it to be the foundation of writing.

After talking to him I had to wrap it up relatively quickly. This was as I was still in the work day and had a fair bit of work ahead of me. We continued the gradual process of preparing the bed. After we had it well prepared, it was already 6pm. Although I normally clock off beforehand, I wanted to get the bulbs back in. So we did that; we took turns where one digs a hole and the other fills it with bulbs and soil and then vice-versa. Afterwards I went round the whole garden and gave everything that needed it a good soaking.

For dinner dad put together some sage and onion stuffing balls together that I was quite excited about. To go along with this, I put together the leftover cauliflower cheese with the left over bolognese and some frozen peas. This mix turned out quite nicely however I added too much water out of the fear that it will get baked onto the bottom of the pan. All in all, the food was delicious and filling.

After dinner we settled down in the living room and I did a small bit of research. I finally got round to doing my first stretch for the rotator cuff and I'm very happy I did so too. My internet then ran out for the day, so dad suggested we do a crossword. I had been playing red hot chilli peppers' greatest hits for most of this. But half way through the crossword the album ran out. I decided to put an album on I hadn't heard before, one that my dad recommended earlier that evening. We then spent the rest of the evening plugging away at the crossword whilst listening to Miles Davis' seminal album Kind of Blue. It was a very satisfying experience.

That's all for now.

See you tomorrow.

Note 54

Drinking:

Listening to: RMF Cuba

Notable songs: Maroon 5, she will be loved (salsa version

Hello.

It's 7:34 and I woke 5 minutes ago. I'm bloody tired still, my neck is stiff and my shoulders hurt.

The topic I'd like to talk about today is my overbite.

I've had a complicated relationship with my teeth since I was a child. My mum has been militantly anti fluoride for my entire life. This meant that she flat out refused a large number of fluoride based treatments through my youth. My dad in contrast has always been super strict about how he takes care of his own teeth. I've definitely taken that on recently. It's helped to not be on my own with my "unique" anxiety.

As my adult teeth were growing in, the baby canines on my upper set hadn't got the memo that they should skedaddle. They hung around until the new ones were fully there. For a while I had double teeth. This caused the new ones to be set more forward than the rest of them.

Normally something like this would have been easily adjusted with a simple series of appointments with an orthodontist to fit a set of braces. I seem to have vague memories of me being apprehensive about it. It never happened. But I don't think my slight apprehension was the entire story. Because don't know if my dentist ever recommended it. But I know that loads of my classmates got them at the same time. While my friends teeth started looking more normal after their long period with their braces, mine just looked the same.

For the next 7 years or so I didn't think much about them. Though I did regularly got anxiety about staining thinking that they're decomposing in my mouth. But after appointments it was fine. My dentist still regularly chides me for drinking coca cola and eating sweets. He seems to have it stuck in his head that that is part of my identity. This frustrates me as I haven't done so for many years. I was militantly anti refined sugar because of the massive amount of anxiety he has given me.

One day I stumbled upon something called Mewing. At first it sounded super culty. It was a bunch of guys that were disappointed with their jaws and had latched onto this dentist who'd been barred from working in the UK because of his views. The dentist taught them why their jaws hadn't developed properly through their formative years and what they can do to address it. It was stressed that this advice works best the earlier you do it.

It wasn't useful for me to read about it when I did. Shortly after doing so, my sister pointed out my own overbite. Up until that point I was blissfully unaware of this. After she pointed it out to me, all of this info from a few months came rushing back. I really wanted to do the exercises, but I was like way past the ideal age of up to 18. I left it, and stopped reading the reddit threads as it still felt culty and just went on with my life.

What really nailed it in for me was when I took a photo of myself from my side. Normally you never get to see that angle of your face so I was again unaware. However when I looked at it, it looked so similar to some of the before photos on the mewing subreddit and It was difficult to accept.

When I read more about the formative years part I learnt that the barred dentist wasn't talking complete rubbish. That a lot of one's face shape comes from one's breathing habits as a child. Apparently it's really important to breath through your nose. Some of this I learnt independently, through listening to Mark Burhenne, a dentist who blogs on his topic of expertise. He's often talked about the importance of not breathing through your mouth when you sleep.

So here I am, 25 and still stressing about my slight overbite and my occluded teeth. I sometimes think back to my parents decisions regarding dental care. About the fundamental decisions they made for me. Like lack of braces and the unawareness of the danger of mouth-breathing. It pisses me off. I'm an OK looking dude. My hair isn't as thick as it used to be. But when I think about how much better I could look with a properly developed jaw, it's very difficult to handle. It's like going through life feeling like a 6/10 and knowing you could have been a 9.

I'm not sure what I want to do about all of this information. I feel like talking to someone who isn't my dentist about it, just to get away from him for a bit. And also to get a third party look at my teeth afresh. He's got it stuck in his head that I've been downing coca cola and chomping on chocolate bars, but I really don't do that. I just want to hear what my options are from someone within the NHS, not some outsider who's got a blend of facts and his own cult-like status. I want to hear if I even have options. I'm sure I do, but sometimes the whole corona thing weighs on me. I haven't been able to attend my dentist appointment at the end of March. So I haven't seen him for at least 4 months if not 6. It's difficult because I often feel I don't have the capacity to keep my teeth at as good a standard as I get from the dentist. So look forward to getting them cleaned by him and I feel like when that stops they get worse and worse.

So there's my cards, open for all to see

Bis Morgen

Note 53

Drinking: Lemon and Ginger Tea

Listening to: RMF Cuba

Notable songs:

Hello.

It's 7:15am and I woke to my alarm at 7. I stirred a few times earlier but never properly outside of the dream state.

Today I would like to talk about Safety Guards against Burnout.

When I started this project, I didn't know what I was doing. I liked the sound of Mo Bitar's 100 days challenge, so I just started it. Prior to reading his post I had read the book from Walter Mosley that recommended a similar system. In this, he blocks out a specific time of day every day. This is for writing. However Mosley differs from Bitar in 2 distinct ways; his system is built toward writing a long form narrative rather than blog posts, and he includes editing, rewriting, rereading your work and even sitting and staring into space as valid uses of your time as long as you stay chained to your desk. Another voice that echoed through was James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. He considers the daily practice of a habit a practice one that will return compounding interests. I have wholeheartedly taken on all of these men's advice as they marry well together and make sense individually.

Once I was about 30 days in I had a discussion with A. I explained to him what I was doing. Although I hadn't reached a burnout point with my daily publish schedule, he was certain that it shall happen soon. So he told me that I should take some time off on a regular basis. I was hesitant to do so as I don't like "dropping the ball" after I've committed to something. He explained that even heart surgeons perform better when they take weekends. Over time I've come to accept this more. I've combined Adam's advice with one that I shall tell later.

I decided to curb my enthusiasm with the drive to write every day by seeking out opposing view points. I looked at perspectives for both general writers and specifically for bloggers. I came across several posts that made sense to me. One was in direct opposition to the thesis that "everyone has a writer within" and that by simply writing often enough, you too will become an excellent writer. His counter to the first point was by making an absurd comparison. What if there was a trend for doctors using the same language? How would you feel if suddenly there was a glut of individuals telling naive people "everyone has a doctor within" and by simply having a go at it often enough you can be as good as those stuffy people who went to medical school? He countered the second point with a more concrete analysis. He explained that from his perspective learning to write is like learning piano rather than learning to snowboard. Snowboarding is a front heavy skill-set, in that you learn most of your skill at the start of your journey. Secondly it has an incredibly tight feedback loop: as you make your way down the slope, you try something new; you crash. This immediate feedback is non-existent within writing. If you write a bad sentence or use poor narrative structure or change from first person to third halfway through without meaning to, you need a third party to point this out. For the beginner, the learning process is inherently dependent on having a teacher or coach to inform you of the rules and rules of thumb.

A second article that I read was specifically for bloggers. The author explained that for a long time they tried to publish every day and by and large it worked. However over time they burnt out. They found that the pressure they put on themselves to publish every day damaged the quality of their work because they cared more about hitting the quota than they did the quality. In response they decided to turn the pressure down by not needing to publish on weekends. They didn't stop writing though. This was an interesting choice as many suggest turning off the writing completely for a while. They chose not to, in order to give them space to fall in love with it again. By giving themselves the weekend to write without the need to publish, they could play with their writing without the fear of how their audience would react. This sounds especially healthy, so I'm trying it out for a while.

A story that can act as both counter and garrison to the above point is that of the pottery teacher. One day he decided to do an experiment with his class. He separated the class into two halves and told them for this entire term, their grades will come from different metrics. For those on the left you shall be graded on the quality of your work. You can present me with one excellent piece for the entire terms and you will get an A. However those of you on the right, will be graded on the quantity of work. 40kg of pottery will garner a C, 50kg will garner a B and 60kg will garner an A.

Over the course of the term the quality students spent a lot of time stressing about the various ways they could make their piece excellent. In contrast, the quality students just steadily plugged away at making as much pottery as possible. I can imagine which group had more fun along the way.

Come the end of the term, the teacher graded the students as he set out. The quantity students presented their hordes of pottery with grins on their faces. Misshapen and awkward looking were a great many pieces. However to his surprise there were also a great many excellent pieces within their piles. The next came quality. Much to his dismay, none of the quality students had anything to show for their time. They would talk and try to pull the wool over the teacher's eyes by waxing lyrical all of the theory of pottering they learnt in their time. However once he looked at them , they trailed off mid sentence and returned to their seats sheepishly.

Many would look at this parable as the perfect evidence for quantity over quality. That one should simply write every day. And in the process create good writing. But that would be ignoring fundamental aspects of the process. The process of pottery is much closer to snowboarding that writing: you receive immediate physical and visual feedback (if it's ugly, it's ugly), you also receive feedback from you classmates who can tell you how to do it better, in addition this was in a no risk environment (unlike blogging they were effectively only judged on the inches they wrote), and finally they are in a classroom. They could simply turn to the teacher and ask for advice on how to improve their work during the term. Altogether I believe there are lessons to be learnt from the parable, but for the time being I cannot see how they would be applicable to my process. I suppose I could join a creative writing class.

Finally there is a piece of advice I picked up along the way somewhere. It says practice makes permanent. It insists that the daily repetition of an action poorly carried out without refinement from a coach or teacher will result in a perfectly executed bad movement. For example you could swim every day. But if your front crawl is abysmal you will simply perfect an abysmal front crawl. I hadn't thought about that for a while until recently, and I think I shall have to shed some of my anonymity and open myself up to others in order to improve my writing.

Currently my practice looks something like this

Monday- Friday

7am: Wake

7:15-7:20 Start writing

7:20-7:45 Write for 25 minutes

7:45-7:50 5 minute break

7:50-8:15 Write for 25 minutes

8:15-8:20 5 minute break

8:20-8:45 Edit yesterday's post for 25 minutes (publish)

8:45-8:50 5 minute break

Saturday- Sunday

same, but don't publish anything

I don't expect this process to stay the same over the coming months. I hope to gradually improve it through iterative design. When it's significantly different I'll post a new version.

Also good news! Although it says note 53, this is my 50th day of posting! This is a huge milestone for me. Something that I definitely didn't expect to do when I started this year. It's weird to think that I'll be more than half way through it by tomorrow. The next milestone I'm excited about is actually this Sunday as it will be the end of the month. It's nice having 2 milestones so nearby. :)

See you tomorrow.

Note 50

Time:

Drinking:

Listening to: RMF Cuba

Notable songs: Buena Vista Social Club- Chan Chan; Celia Cruz- Yo Sobrevivire

Hello.

It's 7:06 and I woke to my alarm 7 minutes ago. This wasn't the first time I got up today. An hour and a half earlier I had to shut the window as the bird song was too loud for me to sleep. After I did so it was manageable.

The topic for today was quite specific, however during the planning stage I had found some more topics to branch into that would give it some more body. I'll see what happens as I go, as I'm still quite tired.

I've been writing for this blog for coming up to 50 days straight now. I'm proud of my work and I'm surprised how fun it was. However there have been some thoughts at the back of my mind. In the same way that my constant exposure to subreddits caused me to accept their value system, it seems that I have accepted the frame of the main developer behind this platform. When I first sought to start a blog, I wanted to make it a pompous and smart thing. After reading Mo Bitar's blog post on the official Listed blog on the 100 day challenge, I changed my mind. This readjustment in my direction took me far far away from where I planned to be. Ignoring whether or not it was the right decision, I would quite like to dissect that choice and his choice to impress upon new bloggers to do his challenge.

A long time ago, I watched youtubers like ShadyPenguinn and KingNappy for hours on end. They would do let's play of pokemon games and I just found it so fun to hear them talk to me about their journey through the game. The highs and lows were palpable throughout, especially because they were tended to do Nuzlockes. This is a challenge in which your pokemon die after they faint in battle. After getting sick and tired of excessive time I would spend watching their content, I switched over to other channels and forgot about them. In the time since I've been a big fan of at least 30 content creators out of the 200 or so that I've watched. During this ebb and flow of interest in various youtube topics and areas, I came across a term known as para-social relationships. I learnt of this through a very good channel called KnowingBetter.

This is a term for when a member of the audience of a public figure develops a one-sided relationship with that figure. This occurrs due to the amount of time they've seen shared with them. Whether it's a baseball radio host, or adult film actress; youtuber or news reader; game developer or author. All of these have automatically created a system by which people can develop a para-social relationship with them. Very few of these public figures choose to create such a system, and many work to dismantle it as much as possible. The reason for this is the implicit danger it entails. Crazed fans will do strange and unsettling things. One only need to open up google to find scores of articles on the matter. But of course it has its pros too. As any acolyte of Kevin Kelly will tell you, the 1000 true fans are paramount in building and maintaining one's income as a creative. These are the one's that will buy too much of your merch. They are the ones that will convert their friends and talk about you on their blogs. They are the evangelists.

And as I have come to learn, I have been in para-social relationships with dozens of content creators over the past 12 years. Some I just liked. Some were die hard. Most were somewhere in the middle. It's difficult to come to terms with it. These were people that I felt a connection with and have treasured memories from secondary school of watching them with my friends. Most of these were harmless connections to normal TV or Movie stars. Relationships that have existed between fan and star for decades now. However YouTube is where things got messy for me. I don't know why but something about having someone feel like they're talking to you, often from their bedroom, really does a number on your brain. And over time the YouTubers themselves have learnt better how to cultivate this connection. Creators such as Aaron Marino have become infamous for his conversion rate for products he touts in his videos. The only way that he has this is due to the deep affection his fans have for him. If he was an impersonal infomercial salesman, he would not see the success he has. I never knew of this until I saw the video of his pitch on SharkTank in which he talked candidly.

This creates an inherent conflict in many a content creator. Trying to tout a product via the channel of faux friendship. Most were drawn to YouTube because they are creatives and they want to share themselves with the world. Over the years the income that Google has offered them has dwindled. Each new wave of their demands has caused a readjustment to the landscape of content. At one time animation videos were king and the ASDF movies were sitting pretty at the top. However Google changed how much money short videos were to be able to earn and suddenly there was no financial incentive for them anymore. So people stopped. Some stopped entirely whilst others adapted.

This is the lineage from which the current glut of third party ad reads within video essays come from. The latest adjustment that caused it was likely the combination of the adpocalypse and the era of the adblocker. So I understand the necessity behind the strucutre of the content. Rather than being an indictment of an entire generation of creatives this is more of exploration with my relationship to their content and what I can handle personally. Often it seems I am alone in my aversion to the advertorial sections of the videos. This boils down to my aversion to ambiguity.

Now to bring it back home. I cannot say how much the plight of the modern youtuber has on the choices of Bitar. But I am certain that they share similar constraints as they live in the same landscape. These are the thoughts that run through my head when I think about my blog. Why am I doing this? Am I trying to impress him? What's his motivation in encouraging people to do the 100 day challenge? How much of it is to help others and how much is to help himself?

Note 49

Time: 5 minute read

Drinking: Nothing

Listening to: Nothing

Notable songs: N/A

Hello.

It's 7:29 and I woke at 7 to my alarm. In the time since, I have read on my phone and continued to Entre Nous.

The topic that I tabled for today was how I feel having blocked access to Shattered Pixel Dungeon on my phone and laptop on Mondays and Wednesdays.

Monday was a weird one for me. My mum was still round and for most of the day I fell into her frame of the eternal Saturday. It's very difficult preparing for a long trip when someone in the household acts and behaves extremely relaxed and does not share in your rising cortisol. Of course this is a good thing in it's own way for she has safeguarded against infectious stress, however it messed up my head for most of the day. After publishing my post in the morning, I spent most of the day in a haze trying to get the critical mass of energy to be able to do Norfolk prep and really focus on it. I hoped that would happen once mum left the house. However even afterwards, the feeling remained.

I did what I could considering the conditions, but it's important to bear in mind that it is more enjoyable to have a slow relaxing day. So even if I logically recognise that I really should be going through my list and checking it, I won't want to. This funk that I had through the day was aided by my choice to block shattered pixel dungeon for the entire day. For the past 2 months I had played the game every day. This was likely a self soothing mechanism of some sort. I had become accustomed to having that available to me. In addition to this, I normally had the option of browsing all of my favourite addictive sites (mainly Reddit). In conjunction with new limits on SPD, I decided to block these websites on my laptop until the end of the week. This was a big step and I'm proud that I made it. The main question is how I will cope. I gave myself respite by allowing the same sites on my phone during this period. This is so I'm not white-nuckling my way through.

These two decisions were actually linked together. You see, my tendency to keep playing SPD was heavily influenced by my repeated visiting of their subreddit. In the same way that repeatedly exposing myself to lefty subreddits gave me their values, visiting SPD gave me an urge to play the game. Therefore my decision to ratchet down on my usage of the game has to include an equivalent ratcheting down of my usage of their community. As for many more toxic places online, the community is what keeps people there. I'm sure there's an element of the sunk cost fallacy in there somehow.

So the 2 days I've experienced without this content on tap was Monday and Wednesday of this week. Monday was more stressful than Wednesday because I had a work day during my time on the latter. This gave me respite. In addition, I was so wrapped up in stress regarding S, that I hardly thought about the game all day. I suppose that's progress, but it sure isn't what it looks like in the self help books.

Together these decisions act like a soft dopamine lock. As those are my main channels of high volume dopamine channels, I have had to find solace with the lower volume channels. What I mean by this is that whilst I browse reddit or play shattered pixel dungeon, for that time I am entirely engaged with my whole brain. I am in a flow state and it is very satisfying to be so. An example of lower volume channels would be somethings like reading a book. I may get into the same engaged flow state as with the other, however it takes me longer to do so and the state is more fragile.

I had sought to down-regulating my dopamine ever since I saw a video called the Dopamine detox and reset ritual a few months ago. The video acts as a primer for why one should do it as how one could do it. The reset ritual has been rather useful so far. Caveat, I've been doing a very minimal version of it. I kept track of 7 basic metrics most days for the past 2 months.

These are those metrics:

  • post published- this is useful to keep track of as I've put a lot of stock into myself for this habit and I'm proud of the progress I've made so far.
  • studied german- this has been my most consistent habit, even when I don't track it in the ritual. I think a big reason for the daily habit is that I know that if I don't do it, my work load for the next day is increased.
  • tracked all meals- this is a frustrating thing to keep up with. Basically, if I don't have digestion issues, I have no urge to track them. And recently I haven't had any problems, so I've been decidedly lax.
  • movement- for both this and the next category, I have them measured in half hour blocks up to 3 hours per day. This should probably be tweaked as I can easily do mor?e than this.
  • creative work- I've been rather creative in figuring out ways to categorise different actions as creative work. For instance I include my writing on days when I've done nothing else, or I include my cooking. I also include any painting I'm doing at work, but I don't include gardening. It would probably help to crystallise my definitions to prevent this regular smudging of the boundaries
  • white space- this is empty space when you're not doing anything. In the words of Hayao Miyazaki, it is the space between two claps. That space helps to define the actions around it. I do this by using pomodoro timers during my work hours, whereby I take a 5 minute break every 25 minutes. This helps me when I'm burning myself out, but it can be frustrating when I'm in the flow state.
  • did the reset ritual- this seems like a bit ridiculous to include, but it was recommended, and doesn't hurt to note down. So for this time being, I'm leaving it.

The dopamine detox is different to it, and they are supposed to go hand in hand. From what I can remember, the detox involves slowly tapering off your main dopamine channels, starting with the most destructive. For many this would be pornography, for other video games, others yet have news websites as theirs. Mine is pornography too. In general, it feels like I'm white-nuckling it, and that scares me because I recognise that abstinence is not recovery. I remember a few years ago, I didn't use porn for about 3 or 4 months. However when the urge came back, it was powerful and insistent. I don't want that. Aside from porn the main things I use for dopamine nowadays would be Reddit, YouTube, and shattered pixel dungeon. Outside of these is also cooking, talking to friends and making progress at work. However the latter group is not designed to be addictive. Whilst the former partially is.

I would like to better label these as a broader category but after trying to do so, I see that each of them satisfies many needs within me. This would explain their staying power of the years. Many around me suffer in the same way I do. Considering this, I think the next step for me would be to better integrate my friends into this process and reducing the burden I put on myself to "deal with my own problems". This would help both of us. It feels good to help and be helped. And maybe by doing so they can follow the pattern and open up when they need to.

Note 48

Time:

Drinking: Licorice, ginger, echinacea and red berry tea

Listening to: RMF Cuba (Krakow based Salsa radio station)

Notable songs: Angel Bonne- Havana City; Sting- Fragilidad

Hello.

It's 7:04, and I woke to the scurrying of the mice in the ceiling above me and to my dad pottering about at 6:20. I'm terribly hungry. In the mean time I've read for 25 minutes in a new book. First published in 2003, Debra Ollivier's "Entre Nous" surprises me constantly. I shall tell you more later.

Beforehand I would like to expand upon something I raised yesterday. The video from Innunedo studios was a short video. Less than 10 minutes. But it caused cogs to turn. And they continued to turn for most of the day. I drew parallels from what I learnt from the series 8 years ago and what I now aspire to be within my relationships. These thoughts trouble me. For the uninitiated Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog is a short web series about a misunderstood scientist aspiring to be a super villain. His arch nemseis meanwhile is the burly, brash and confident Captain Hammer. Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, this is using the nerd and jock dichotomy that existed in most 90's high school films. When I first watched this when I was 15, I completely empathised with Billy (Dr Horrible), especially in his romantic plight to get with the woman, Penny. The entire show goes through Billy's eyes, thus we see him how he see's himself. It gives him a very sympathetic angle, which in retrospect was not healthy for me to watch at the time.

One of the main problems with Billy's motivations is that he has fully subscribed to incel logic. He believes that men are divided into 2 categories: Chads and incels. And the chads are the alphas who get laid all the time while the incels naturally do not. This is the same false dichotomy of the jocks and nerds. He believes that there are the bullies and the bullied. So to stop the subjugation from Captain Hammer, he believes he has to subjugate him instead. He doesn't want to do away with the power dynamics and think of new and healthier roles, relationships and dynamics, but instead simply wants the power that Hammer has. To put it simply he ascribes to the Rule of 2. This is the rule of the Sith in the Star Wars universe. He sees the power that he has coveted for so long, but he believes to free himself from suffering, he must take that power from the other.

To anyone in a healthy place that isn't clinically online, this can be seen for the intellectually lazy life lens it is. After seeing Billy's life lens being shattered, I had a problem. For starters when I recommended the show to S a few weeks ago, I had a sinking feeling. After recommending it I wanted to feel nostlgia by watching some of the videos I so fondly remembered. All this did was make me feel bad because of the gross mindset of Billy through his songs. This proverbial knife was then twisted by watching Innuendo Studios' video on the matter as he expanded upon my off feeling by systematically explaining why I feel so. This was healthy but bloody uncomfortable.

Naturally this threw me. I looked up to this wacko when I was a kid. I thought he was "just" like me. The main problem was the rule of 2 or the false dichotomy problem. That for Billy to become a desirable male within the eyes of Penny he believed he had to become what Hammer was. For a long time I subscribed to this perspective. I believed that there exist 2 types of men: normal people and virgins. It wasn't quite as harsh and codified as the incels see life, but it nonetheless held the notion that having sex was a coming of age process and those who delay this too long never become men.

I still subconsciously drive my life in that specific direction. Most of the work I do in social skills is toward this. To become the "man about town": the one who, in his local bar, knows everyone. Or the one who see's no problem asking strangers for directions to a nearby landmark. Or the one who see's no problem in hitting on a woman in a bar and engaging in reciprocal flirting. Actually now that I think about it, my desires in life are a lot more measured and normal than those of the incel community. My greatest desire is to be normal. To have a normal family and friends and simply be there for each other in our times of need. I don't know what their desires are but it seems to want to bypass being normal and jump straight from outsider to social elite. I can't knock them wholeheartedly in this desire as I catch myself wanting the same rather often.

Like TLC said

"Don't go chasing waterfalls, stick to the rivers and the streams you're used to"

I'm content with my friends and family but often I fall into the rut of wanting "better". Of seeing the hottest girl at salsa, or the coolest guy and wanting to know them. I enjoy the quote above and find it to be a soothing mantra. Rather than read it as a depressing desire to stagnate in life, I read it as desiring those who desire you and being content within your life.

To return to my day, the drive to Norfolk went really well. I listened to a chill mix of indie music I found on youtube. This included a new favourite of an old Jon Bellion song, Dead Man Walking. It's a very funny song, but I won't spoil it. After arriving we unloaded the van and put things away. Dad prepared lunch and I made my bed. Lunch was a nice simple affair of assorted breads and various spreads that we had in the fridge.

After eating I retired to my freshly made bed and had a rest for half an hour. After this I decided to play Shattered Pixel Dungeon. Normally I play for half an hour. On a good day I get to play it for 45 minutes. This day, I got to play it for 90 minutes. This was my new system that I'm test driving. I'll tell you more about it later.

In the evening S told me that her postcard from me arrived today and she likes it. I replied, suggesting we have a chat. This was after 3 days of no words exchanged and she seemed in good spirits about this lack of communication. However she has not replied to my suggestion. So I suppose I'll have to wait and see. I'll likely prod her if the wait is getting ridiculous. For now I better get on with my day.

So I'll see you later.

Note 47

Time: 4 minute read

Drinking: Dalgetty Lemon and Ginger tea

Listening to: RMF Cuba (Krakow based Salsa radio station)

Notable songs: Coldplay, clocks , salsafied; Salsa celtica El sol de la Noche; Africando, Aicha

Hello,

It's 8am and I woke to my alarm at 7. In the time between I watched a couple of funny videos from Fynn Kliemann and a sobering video from Innunendo studios on Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Until today I never knew that Kliemann made videos. I only knew of him because of his fantastic album Nie that he released a few years ago. And now I see that he has an annual video series that he posts called Mach Deine Scheiße Tag (Do your Shit Day), a day that he has set aside to finally do all the odd jobs around his house that he has been putting off . He highly encourages others to share this day with him and do their own shit too. In case you are wondering this year's has already passed. So you're not allowed to do anything until next year. It's celebrated the first Sunday of every February. I have already added it to my calendar for next year.

Yesterday was an alright day. Not that great, but nothing really untoward happened. Just for the majority of the day I didn't have anyone to talk to. I miss chatting with Steph and being able to text her random shit.

In the morning I cooked myself some breakfast. It was a chunk of polish bacon I found in the freezer, a 2 egg omelette and 2 leftover flatbreads , nuked with butter and sprinkled with sumac. Oh and I had an apple. I just noticed that when I eat a grazing meal,when I eat things as I cook, I don't remember that well what it was that I ate in comparison with a sit down dinner and everything is on one plate. hmm. A few hours after this, for lunch I had a banana and choc-peanut butter on rye sandwich. I wasn't hungry as I had just eaten recently.

For dinner I made a stir fry with a collection of assorted ingredients that had been building up recently. The base of it was a reduced pack of pepper themed stir fry my dad had bought from Tesco. With this I added water chestnuts, garlic, an old courgette, spring onions, roast chicken, anna potatoes, chicken stock, soy sauce and apple cider vinegar. It tasted pretty good all in all but it didn't sing. It also didn't taste particularly Chinese. I have no idea what kind of seasoning would have worked for it. In the end I just seasoned it with some oregano and mace. I wasn't that happy with it in the end because I had these thoughts in the back of my mind. But it was still satisfying to eat.

In the evening Laura was nice enough to give me a ring. I should really ring her more often myself. It was actually completely against the odds that she got through to me. This was because I had my phone set to do not disturb for the whole day. It was entirely coincidental that I had picked up my phone to check the time. And then I see she's calling. So I pick up there she was. It was weird. We had a really nice chat though. It was longer than normal because I was desperate for human interaction outside of those in my house. It turns out she had started watching a show that I used to watch a few years ago. It's nice to hear her describe it and rediscover it through her eyes. I updated her with what was going on with S and the stress in my head about when I should contact her next. From a chat I was having with Dad prior to her call, he suggested to wait until Wednesday for contacting her. He also suggested that I should simply tread water and not mess up what we've built so far. Laura didn't have an opinion on the time frame, but instead pointed out that it may be more final than I want to interpret it. S wasn't like super into it, and she didn't set a time frame of when she's be available, she just said that she'll be busy for quite a while. It's quite likely nothing will come of this. I don't know. I don't really want to know. The longer I don't text her the more apprehension creeps in to me. I'm the kind of guy that thinks if something doesn't get my constant attention, it will disappear. I just realised that a few days ago and it's a concerning thought.

In brighter news, I also figured some stuff out about the future reward regarding my reward for hitting 50 days straight of writing. I want to hire a Marie Kondo- style personal organiser. It's difficult for me to encapsulate this sort of job title. My sister wanted a fixed definition and I struggled for a while. I suppose the easiest way to describe it is a life organiser who works from the ground up by systematically questioning each possessions relationship to you. I reached out to a London-based firm earlier in the week to find out their price list. They don't list it on their website. And I hate that. They explained that they charge £50+vat for 45 minute chat and £700 + vat for 2 organisers working 8 hours on site. I punched the numbers into a calculator and found out they make £43.75 per hour. Guessing that 50% of that is taken by the firm. But either way, I only make £60 a day. So for one day from them I have to work 14 days. That's not going to happen. Mainly because I don't need declutterers. This isn't because we don't have clutter, but because the vast majority of the stuff left after I've gone through everything like 10 times is emotional stuff. Things related to my grandparents or other relatives. It's not just something you can blitz through and yeet into a skip.

All this said, I still want to hire some kind of someone of that sort, just because it would be fun. My sister also emphasised to me that if I'm going to do this, I need to treat it like an appointment with a lawyer. I need to know exactly what I want to focus on with them, and have back up topics if the first one is dealt with faster than expected. I will definitely do that. But in the meantime I need to start getting ready for the day. As we're going to be travelling up to Norfolk and my bag isn't properly packed yet. So I'm going to leave it here, and I'll see you tomorrow.

Note 46

Time: 3.5 minute read

Drinking: Dalgetty Lemon and Ginger tea

Listening to: Bachata Radio station

Notable tracks: Prince Royce- Stand by Me

Hello,

I woke to my alarm at 7am today. I had stirred earlier and checked the time, but it was 6:30. So back to bed for me.

Yesterday I decided to listen to Bachata music. I first put it on in the morning when I was cooking my breakfast. I had bought a new cookbook the day before that focused on how best to utilise the freezer. From that cookbook I had decided to make some yoghurt flatbreads. I often listen to music whilst I cook, but it's hard to find something for me to listen to. Normally I want something that I've heard before, as novelty would be distracting and I need to focus on a new recipe. If the lyrics are in English or German then that would also be distracting. I'm distracted by a lot. A nice solution to this for me was Salsa or Bachata music.This is because I'm very intimately aware of them as I have listened to them regularly whilst attending dance classes and doing solo practice at home. However I don't know what they're saying. Because I don't speak Spanish. I wasn't sure which one to pick at first and chose Bachata arbitrarily without any conscious reasoning of why I did, though I'm sure there's some valid reason inside my head somewhere. And this worked out really well. It gave the whole cooking session a nice vibe to it as me and my Mum cooked them together. And it kept things flowing. Like because of the rhythm I felt like constantly moving with it. After the success of cooking, I tried out how it would sound as background music for when I'm writing my blog posts. This is for the same reasons, in terms of distractions. It worked again however there was something that caught me. I should have expected this. It's quite often that I'll be typing along and a specific lick or groove comes along and I can't stop myself from closing my eyes and moving to it. In addition having the rhythm to it makes me want to type at that speed and the mechanical process of typing goes well with the music and I express the rhythm through my fingers so it's like my fingers are dancing. Yeah.

After breakfast I wrote a card for my brother who passed away more than 10 years ago. He was my best friend so it's still painful to think about what type of person he would have become. Also, who would I have become if his presence hadn't left my life so early? I often try to poison the well of any overly rose-tinted assumptions about alternate paths in my life. Like I often think about if I had continued studying German in high school where I would be now. However in this situation, it's simple. His presence wouldn't have been a default good throughout my life. We still clashed when he was alive and we didn't always see eye to eye. I can see how it may have panned out: Siblings argue, rifts happen, harsh words or fists are exchanged. But I assert that it's not up to me to balance the pros and cons of his continued life. We would have managed one way or the other. And I've missed him terribly over the years. Most of the time I forget about him, but now and then something happens like his birthday or deathday rolls around or Christmas happens and the hurt's brought to the fore. I know death is a part of life, and we're all just temporary guests of our bodies, but it sucks that his stay was so short.

I wrote the card to him the same way that I write to my friends or loved ones. Present tense, with the frame that he's listening and existing somehow. It was cathartic to do so. Normally we write about how much we miss him and wish he were still with us. And that just doesn't sit well for me. I want to maintain my connection with him. I often think about how much I've held in my head that I'm living for both of us and that I shouldn't fuck up the chances I have because there's more riding on this than just my whims and my desires. Maybe that's where my overactive sense of responsibility comes from. Who knows. All I know is it felt good to write to him that way.

It also felt good to do the driving to and from the graveyard. On the way back I listened to Teesy's first album Wünschdirwas and on the way there I listened to Jon Bellion's latest album Glory Sound Prep. Both were satisfying to listen to but it is difficult to balance the listening to the music and how much I focus on the driving. I suppose it's a balance but it is concerning. Once I got home I had a rest and looked to finally do some typing. I can't remember what I did instead, but it wasn't typing. I remember this because I only started doing it around 6pm and was still working on the edit after dinner at 7:30.

The app blocker on my phone was pissing me off . I normally have a simple set of rules for when I can play shattered pixel dungeon. 45 minutes a day on the weekend. But yesterday was more like 2 hours. This is why I was pissed off. Because I don't have a notification that shows me the time left on the app tracker, I normally open up the game and play until it shuts it down. I'm going to have to change this because it's happened too often and it leaves me pissed each time. It basically didn't register that I had started using the app and it let me use it for as long as I wanted. The problem is I didn't know that this had happened until I had already used 1 hour and 15 minutes of it. This is an estimate as aside from that app, I don't have any others that track time spent alone. In addition when I got back from the graveyard I played the standard 45 minutes of it once the blocker was working again. So there's the 2 hours. It's annoying not being consistent with the promises I make to myself because of a kung fu youtube channel I watched a couple weeks ago. He asserts that the more promises to yourself that you break the weaker you make yourself as you are giving away your power.

Oh wow, a pigeon just flew into my window and flew off again. It didn't break it, just a dumbass thud. It probably confused and scared the hell out of that pigeon.

In some positive news, I finally found the password to my aforementioned app tracker. This means I can finally update my daily quotas after a month of using it at the current system.

This is what I had before:

  • 2 hours 30 per day for YouTube
  • 2 hours 30 per day for reddit and browsing
  • of that 30 minutes per day for the reddit app maximum
  • 30 minutes per day (weekdays) and 45 minutes (weekends) for shattered pixel dungeon

I've changed the YouTube and SPD times to a per week maximum. It's because I don't use the YouTube app much as I normally just download the videos and listen to them on VLC when I have time and no data. Considering that I want to play Shattered in longer blocks and on less days I'm hopeful that it will improve things. Currently I have it set to 3 hours per week. Of course this means that I could spend it all on one day. Maybe if I set it to a maximum of an hour and half per day, then I can have 2 benders per week or spread it out over the 5 days available. I'll have to set this up today though, as my password won't be coming with me to Norfolk.

Oh yeah, I will be going to Norfolk again tomorrow. I'm a bit apprehensive as I've gotten rather comfortable with my time off whilst I was here. That said I recognise in reality I didn't spend a lot of my time relaxing and I should really be working more on that. Soon. Not in the future. Soon. In addition, I felt apprehensive about coming back to Ilford at the end of my last stint in Norfolk. So I think it's just a matter of my current grass is greener.

And so another week comes to a close. As weeks go, I've had many worse and few better. I've had time for myself and I've served others. I've been spontaneous and conservative. And through it all, I've written. Each time I've done so I've learnt a bit more about myself. In addition to that the process of writing has taught me better how to structure my writing sessions. For example I've recorded and listened back to myself reading out my posts over the last few days and that's helped tremendously.

Thanks Walter Mosley.

Note 45

Drinking: nothing

Listening to: Bachata radio station

hello,

It's 17:49 and it's the first chance I've had today to sit down and work on this. Not to say that I had no choice in what I did earlier, but I recognised the urgency of some items at the time and prioritised accordingly. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow.

Yesterday was a pretty nice day. To be honest I can't remember much of what I did off the top of my head. You know I'll go get my daily to do list and have a look to remind myself. Ah yes. I had an insanely long walk in the morning. I wonder why that memory was repressed.

After I woke for some reason I decided to go onto the laptop and start working. It was 7am and I don't remember much about what I was doing. It seems I had started typing up my blog post for the day. I had gotten to the first half hour point, when P replied to my message earlier. She was interested in a chat. So happy to oblige I called her up. It was around 7:50 when we started chatting. As tends to happen before my brain properly turns on I decided to act impulsively. This can often turn out badly. Yesterday was different.

I had been meaning to chat while walking more often. I had had a few whilst I was in Norfolk and enjoyed them thoroughly. They gave a steady stream of things upon which I can talk about in a natural and elegant manner. This is something I can't do when I've run out of things to talk about whilst I'm sitting in my bedroom. I can just imagine it now, "Uhh looks like I hadn't put my washing in for a while yet! that's pretty funny in a gross way ey?" Probably not a good look. The walk was really satisfying and it just worked. It felt natural to do so. I took a walk around a local park of mine and then further out of the park to the next borough over and finally walked all of the way back. I had wanted to take a bus. And I even got so far as to get on the bus. However it was too loud to hear my friend on the phone. It sounded like it was falling apart. And so after a few stops I decided to get off. It was Frustrating as I was really tired and I just wanted to sit down for a while and talk some more. But that wasn't an option. On the plus side I didn't lose any time from my extended unexpected walk. You see, that bus takes the most convoluted route to get to my house. What should normally be a 7 minute drive door to door become a 37 minute one. It's just abysmal.

Once I got home naturally I was absolutely shattered. I was well in need of a brunch and a rest. It's so bloody nice to eat food after that much walking. Most people don't think that walking can be a workout, but they don't walk enough to know that walking can be bloody painful. I walked for the best of 3 hours. I don't do that. I'm not a walker. I still can't believe it.

For the rest of the day I had a relatively relaxed day; in the afternoon my relative from America called me up to touch base with me and see how things are going. I really enjoyed chatting with him and seeing how my niece is doing. She's still a toddler so she can't say much but it's satisfying to watch her express herself. It's weird to think that in a few years she'll be going to school. I had a chat with S about how I feel about being an uncle. She reminded me that by the time I'm 30 she'll be like 6 years old and in grade school. It's low key mind blowing.

I also had a chat with my other niece. Her and her dad are working on upgrading the clubhouse in the garden. They plan to use it for when her cousins come round to visit her so they have their own kind of private space away from the grownups. I wish I had that, that would have been such a cool place for me to have had as a kid. It reminds me of what my female cousins had when they were her age. They had their own den up away in the attic of my grandmas place. I was never privy to what they talked about as they are all at least 8 years older than me. But I like the poetry of it. I can imagine both groups of girls will have similar conversations: chatting shit , bitching about their friends from school, talking about their dreams and fears. Cool shit. Foundations of friendships. And it is cool to see them use the lock down time on an activity that will be treasured memories in years to come. In a few years they're going to look back and she'll be like "Man, I'm so happy we did that, I had such a nice time with you Dad." And I'm envious of her because although me and my dad do that professionally, we never made anything like that. But I am aware of how much he has sacrificed for me over the years so I can't be that mad. Maybe I'll make one for my kids@.

In the evening we went to Tesco. And part of the process of going to Tesco's is a lot of walking. It's a big-ass store, and everything is far apart from each other because that's the way supermarkets have been designed for the past 10+ years. Milk and cereal are at the opposite ends. I spent an hour and 20 minutes walking. Normally this wouldn't even register to my body as anything worth noting. However, because of my hardcore walk that morning, I did notice it. And I was certainly flagging come home time. In addition we forgot our bags again. This is frustrating and it was pissing me off. Because of that we had the most inefficient process of moving the groceries.

We had to move it:
First into the trolley.
Then onto the conveyor belt.
Then back into the trolley.
Then into the car.
Then out of the car into bags.
And finally out of the bags into their homes within our house.

In the future @ I would like to use shallow boxes which would fit onto the conveyor belt and in the trolley. This way the cashier can just scan each item into the box and then I can just move the whole box back into the trolley then move the whole box into the care and then into the house. We could even organise the boxes according to their homes within the house. One box for freezer items. Cupboard items? Bang! One box. Fridge? One box. ugh. It will be so good. Hopefully that will help reduce the friction of shopping in the future. I'll let you know if it even works.

After Tesco I took it upon myself to prepare bulgur for dinner. This wasn't difficult but I still put an insane amount of pressure on myself to appease my dad. I still have a lot to work through. It's frustrating. And I really don't know when I'll get over that need. Because I know that it's not healthy. And it won't even make him happy. Ugh. I first learnt about this bad habit as part of the group of toxic mechanisms that make the profile of an average client of a man called Robert Glover. He was a therapist who had such a great litany of similar cases that he was compelled to write a book in order to help what he imagined would be many more individuals from around the world that suffered in the same way. The book that he wrote was called No More Mr Nice Guy. I first read this about 6 years ago whilst I was still at uni. Since then, I've had to come back to it time and time again to remind myself of the core aspects of my behaviour that sabotage my future. It's a slow journey and I understand that. It's inherently slow. But it's still painful when I feel myself slip back. The term for one of the behaviours I do is a covert contract. This is when person A wants something from person B. A will make a secret contract with B in his head. But B will have no awareness of this and continue living life normally. The contract A holds details what he will do for her and what he expects in return.

An example of this would be classic nice guy behaviour. He wants to get laid so he sets up a system in his head where he says OK if I wash your car, do your taxes and be an emotional rock for you to lean on during hard times, then maybe we'll go out and you'll be my girlfriend and I'll get laid. I have done this so many times and now that I think about it, I've probably been doing it again with S. And it's pissing me off. But naturally when you look at someone else doing that, you'd think to yourself, "That guy is insane. How can he possibly expect something from someone if he never asks for it?" But as is the way we never see our mistakes until later on. Most of the time you will not be aware of this process when you're doing it. You don't think "Ah! I shall keep this secret and by doing so this will somehow benefit me in the future!" No man thinks that. It's all subconscious. And that's where the danger lies. If he was conscious of it, he could see it for the absurdity it is and quash it there and then. But instead it leads his every day behaviour without his awareness.

Similar to escalator wit, I hope by repeatedly coming back to the same book and reading it on a regular basis and taking notes and talking about it with my dad and friends and anyone else who will listen, maybe I will reduce the time between doing this behaviour and recognising it. And one day I hope to close that gap so tightly that I will recognise it before I do it.

And then I can be free.

Note 44

Drinking: Licorice, ginger, echinacea and red berry tea

Hello,

It's 7:35 now and I woke up 40 minutes ago. I first woke up at 5:10 or so as I needed to go toilet. Luckily I managed to fall back asleep, but it felt like it took a while. Today there is nothing on my to do list. In response I hastily added that I should pack a few items for Norfolk. I don't want today to be a zero day.

Yesterday was a rather nice all in all. I spent a while in bed on my laptop in the morning. In this time, I wrote my blog post, I played shattered pixel dungeon and later on played it some more on my laptop. I really want to ratchet down how much I play it. And I have started. You see, I've started blocking it on my laptop on Mondays and Wednesdays. This is good as it's only a small difference and I want to slowly tighten the net rather than go from 1-2 hours a day to very little. Furthermore I'm concerned that my decision to continue playing the game and continue browsing the subreddits will inspire me to want to resume development of the fork . And I had ceremoniously decided that I won't do any more . I know that it won't be good for me and on top of that, I know I have greater potential within writing.

In addition I made a major realisation; I recognised one of the great trends in how I think. When I allow myself to become enamoured with an online community I subconsciously accept their value system. For instance when I was on the lefty subreddits, the greatest thing you could do was Praxis. This was normally any sort of impressive visual act that required courage and or tenacity to do something that somehow advanced their interests. This could include removing anti-homeless measures local councils have installed, replacing traditional advertising with subvertising or even guerilla gardening. Action in which you take on risk to improve your community. These naturally rose as the measure of worth within those subreddits. And over a matter of weeks I accepted it.

Another example is when I browsed the bullet journal subreddit, the users who got the highest praise were those that created impeccable spreads of art within their own journals. So I wanted to emulate them. Or when I browsed the casualconversation subreddit, the users praised were those who were kind, gentle and could hold a conversation. So I wanted to be them too.

In the same way, I have been browsing the pixel dungeon subreddit for over a year now and prior to that I had been a frequent browser of the Pokemon insurgence subreddit for a year. When browsing both of these, I got envious of the adoration and prestige the top developers had garnered from their fans. I wanted what they had, and the only way I could get that was to create a fork of the project and actively develop it some way that I thought would be popular. And then I would become one of them. Part of the community,. A recognised face.

However, when I take a step back from these places their hold on my value system dissolves. I don't really care about making a game. I know that would suck up all my free time and keep me indoors for extended periods on weekends and I don't want any of that. I still care about improving my community but I don't want to like, get a record for doing some dome shit when I'm 20 something. I'm open to more conventional channels now. The long term slow commitment to building relationships, trust and people. Acting out and using helping others as a good excuse to be rebellious doesn't serve anyone.

Not all the values I've taken in in this way is purely damaging or inherently corrosive. The problem was the process. I need to be more aware and conscious to what I open myself up to and who I invite into my house. This realisation has bolstered my resolve on protecting my belief system. I have long understood how easily I can be manipulated, but evidently this has not stopped me from being drawn to cult-like communities and imbibing their beliefs. Many posts ago, I talked about the importance that a low information diet has had in my life. This was for the general purpose of reducing the low level background radiation of anxiety inducing information. Things like news, youtube drama, and advertising. Overall this new piece of the puzzle has caused me to learn that I need to extend this. That I should be cautious about further areas and not go willingly into these communities with such abandon.

Because to do so is at the expense of myself.

I hope I learn .

Note 43

Drinking

Hello,

It's now 9:43 am and I woke at 7 am to my alarm. This was nice, as for once I actually felt rather well rested. Yesterday was a special, albeit stressful day.

I woke too early, and spent the morning gradually getting ready to get out of the house. I needed to be out by 12:30 in order to meet a friend by 1 to get into town by 2. This was an impromptu plan we had made yesterday so it hadn't quite sunk in to me that it was actually happening. Our plan was to go into central London in order to take photos of the rather emptier than normal streets. This wasn't quite what happened though. Upon arriving at Bank, it was certainly emptier than expected, but it wasn't the desolate ghost town that I had hoped for. Considering the recent decision of the prime minister that construction workers were to return to work on Wednesday, there was a great number of them and a much higher ratio of these people to the average city worker. This was refreshing.

After arriving at Bank we meandered our way over to the Millennium Bridge via short cut by St. Pauls. Before we got to the bridge. My friend spotted something out of the ordinary. One of the local takeaway shops was actually open. It was a cute little Italian shop run by a New Zealander. I walked in, said hello and immediately asked whereabouts in the store I should stand. She was affable to talk with and ran me through the options available and how her system works. I really liked their menu as there wasn't a lot of options. Less options in a restaurant is generally a good sign. After ordering, me and my friend ambled over across the road to a granite wall that had been well positioned. My friend made the suggestion that we use it as a table. And so we did. I'm blown away by how good the pasta was. It was chewy and thick and just unctuous.

After lunch we continued our walk. Slowly travelling down the Thames with a selection of my music scoring our journey; we were content. Every now and then one of us would stop, take out a camera and take pictures of something striking. This was a natural and expected part of the rhythm of the walk. I had hoped to show him the roof gardens at the National Theatre, however they were closed to the public. Soon after, we arrived at the bridge that overshadows the Southbank book market. Giddy and nervous, I made my way to the central reservation separating the two lanes of traffic. The whole day, I had hoped to get satisfying photos of an empty bridge. Until now I had not. Even as I crouched there, camera in hand, watching the intermittent cars, vans and busses make their way from North to South and vice-versa, I was apprehensive. I didn't think that my moment would come. And then it did, carefully I lined up the centre of the frame, I took my shot. I checked it, satisfied, I went across the road to continue our walk.

At this point we had come to a nexus. We had to decide if we wanted to go North to central or South to somewhere else. My friend wanted to go back to central, but I insisted on going South because of how little we had ever explored that half of our city. So we got on a bus and travelled. Aiming to get to Brixton, we stopped in a town before our bus branched off. Soon thereafter we landed in Brixton on another bus. It was surreal for me to be there, because I hadn't walked there in at least 8 months, if not a year. I had hoped to show him the first salsa place that I had been to, however I could not find it for the life of me. Instead we ambled around until 5pm rolled by, as that was when I wanted to begin going home, and so we did.

My friend was concerned that it would be higher risk to travel between 5 and 7 pm due to rush hour. However he was gladly mistaken. Everyone on the tube respected social distancing and we had a relaxing, if boring journey home.

You can tell you're having a good conversation when you're sweating as the realisation dawns on you that you're making the wrong decision in life. This is what happened to me in the evening. I had arranged to have a chat with an old friend of mine after having not talked to her in 2 weeks. The last time we talked I was giddily discussing plans and ideas for my fork of shattered pixel dungeon. This time was different. After 40 minutes of going thorugh the patchy progress I had since made, I came clean about something that had recently bubbled up in my mind. I no longer wanted to pursue this project. Until now I had put roughly 20 hours of my time into it. I estimate that it would take between 200 and 300 hours to create a fork that I could be proud of. When I consider this. This initial time, my apprehension is brought into focus. I told my friend about this and she was surprised. I was scared of saying this as I didn't want to admit it to myself. However, she quickly warmed to the idea as I told her what wanted to do with my time instead.

The thing that I want to do instead is what you are reading. I have found myself to thoroughly enjoy the experience of writing. Furthermore, I still feel drawn to it. This is different to how I feel when I think of the programming project. The latter is a burden and a chore. With my mind made up, a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I can see my future better. I don't know what's in it, but I know I'll be writing.

Note 42

Drinking: Fennel tea with apple cider vinegar.

Hello.

I woke up about an hour ago, at 5:40. Yesterday was a rather uneventful day until just before midnight. Then it got stressful and tense. In the morning I went with my Dad to take the van in for an MOT. Because we normally have to drive there and back, we went in two different cars. This was fun for me because, although he had a head start, about 3/4 of the way there I caught up with him and ended up leading the way to the destination. This was nice because it hasn't happened before and I'm chuffed that I remembered the route without any need of google maps. Whilst he was dealing with the van, I went to Hoo Hing, a local oriental restaurant wholesalers.

This was the first time that I went there with an actual shopping list for a specific recipe. Each other time I went, it was always just moseying my way around picking up random ingredients that sounded interesting or cool, with no overarching structure or understanding of how the ingredients would typically interact with one another. The recipe I bought ingredients for was a chow mein recipe. As I'd never made it and almost never eaten it, I figured it would be fun. It also helps that I'm well acquainted with the ingredients involved and enjoy using them in other recipes. This is important because it reduces the friction in trying a new thing. If the recipe involved durian I'd be a lot more scared.

Other things I bought included rice vinegar, soy sauce, nishiki rice, XO sauce, ramen noodles and a few other things that I can't remember for the time being. But one of the best things I got there were the big collections of cardboard boxes! I got a few half pallet cardboard boxes that will be rather useful in and around the house. In fact they were useful even before I left the store! As I had forgotten to bring any bags, I used some smaller boxes to pack my produce and glass bottles in. I find that it's shocking how many areas are improved in their organisation by reorganising it and using cardboard boxes in one way or another.

In the evening I talked to S. This was a long awaited convo as I had waited for at least a week since our last phone chat. Overall it was a really satisfying chat. I still stand by my assertion that I always enjoy myself in our chats. By the end of the it, I was drunk from tiredness and literally laying with my head on my pillow and my eyes shut. Answering her questions and making statements of my own. At some point here, I decided it would be a good idea to be candid about why I keep trying to dial the sexual tension up. I got bloody awful cramping in my stomach and full body tension from the physical apprehension of saying what I want to. And the more I put off saying it the more she blew up the idea in her own head. She thought it would be really uncomfortably creepy. And I was terrified that I'd mess everything we had built together if I say it.

After a lot of back and forth I eventually just committed and said what I wanted. I told her "It's just because you're hot and I'm constantly trying to avoid friend-zoning myself". There was silence. I was hoping for her to laugh while exhaling a sigh of relief. And that she knew that I was into her. But that didn't happen. I was surprised that she was surpriseed, considering how thick I laid it on at times. But regardless we talked. As she's only recently come out of a 7 year relationship, she's still in the process of untangling her life from his, this involves a lot of legal processes that she needs to go through, and put a lot of energy into. The corollary of this is that during this period, she will have little emotional energy left to put into me, which is something that I would strictly need to function if I were someone's partner.

I was pleasantly surprised at her candour regarding this, but I was still physically and emotionally torn at her decision. I cried after the phone call ended. Luckily that wasn't the book end to our relationship. We are still OK with talking and texting for the time being. And when lockdown is lifted enough I desperately want to see her physically. I explained without having that aspect to this "thing", none of it will feel real. She understood and was OK with hanging out in person. I think all in all it went well. I don't know what kind of time frame she has in her head until she'll be emotionally available enough for a relationship. A large part of me just wants to wait for her. But the healthier part knows that it would be better if I just go back to salsa, play the field a bit. Get some actual experience with women, and then come back to her when she's ready. I don't know if it's a good idea. There's also every chance that she meets another guy between those two points in our lives. I would be broken by that. Because as I mentioned before, in the 5 year plan, I had already envisioned what we would name our dog.

On the plus side I also went through the emotional journey of writing a positive future for myself that includes her breaking up with me. It was a lot easier than I expected. At the end of the day, and I explained this in yesterdays chat too, I really did enjoy myself in the two months I spent with her. I grew a lot as a person and I felt truly seen and appreciated throughout our phone calls. What the future holds for us I really don't know.

I can do what I can to steer the ship a certain way, but the weather does not negotiate.

Note 41

Drinking: Fennel tea with apple cider vinegar

Hello,

I woke up about 20 minutes ago at 5:31. It's earlier than I wanted to be up, but I did fall asleep by about 10pm, so it's not that surprising. I should really start using a sleep tracking app. My sleep quality is probably pretty bad, and I'm just guessing how I'm doing and ignoring how tired I feel. Like I'm tired now, but I'll tell myself it's not too bad.

Yesterday was a very hectic day. The natural stress was accentuated by the fact that I had 5 or less hours of sleep. I was difficult to be around because of this. It was another day of travel, and this caused a lot of extra stress because everything has to be done correctly to make sure that the house in norfolk is safe and secure for when we're away. We're lucky that we're on good terms with most of our neighbours there. Otherwise things could go downhill very quickly. Accidents can happen in your absence.

I got up 4:47 and spent the morning reading the rest of the cowboys and indians book Wild Woman. Prior to that morning I was about half way through, and I somehow finished the book before breakfast. It's surprising how much you can read when you've got the time and inclination. After breakfast, I packed my bags, and packed a suitcase for clothing that I want to keep there, to reduce the amount that I need to ferry back and forth. One thing that I left there still is the lego set that I bought during our first outing during corona. It's a racing car technic set. I'm surprised that I haven't finished it yet. Normally, when I was a kid, I would hardly stop building a set until it's done. So it's weird for me to be able to put it all away in neat little tubs half finished and be OK with that.

Whilst driving back from Norfolk, we listened to a funny video from Patrick Willhelms about why Predator is the greatest slasher-action mash up movie. He's very persuasive and I learnt a lot about both genres. It really is satisfying for me to learn new things about areas that I consider myself pretty clued up on . I tend to think I know a fair bit about movies, but after watching dozens of video essays over the years, I've come to know that I don't know that much. That's still okay, as much as it's a bit uncomfortable to think about, it's not that bad. It means I've suddenly got a lot more people I can learn from. And very few of them are the stuffy teachers from my youth.

After listening to that video, I queued up a video about the man who was struck by lightning and became a piano savant afterwards. I was hoping for a really in-depth interview from seasoned professionals. It probably included that. However I stopped 10 minutes in because it was all supernatural bullshit. Talking about UFO sightings and super moons and the connections with other stuff. I avoid that militantly because I'm very gullible. The next one I put on was an interesting talk about the history of the IWW in Australia. This was much more up my alley, however the audio quality was shockingly variable. This meant that I had to skip it. After that came a talk from the Rich Roll podcast with a guy who used to be an analyst and spy working for the Canadian version of the NSA. He was actually really interesting to listen to, and I think if given the time, I 'd have plenty to take notes about. However neither I nor my dad could follow what the host and guest were talking about. So I just turned it off for the remainder of the journey.

Once we got home, we unloaded the van of the belongings that don't belong in there. I took a few things directly upstairs, like my bags. This helped keep the hallway clear. I then staged my room for a nap: I closed the curtains, got changed into comfortable clothing, put my sleep music on and weighted my blanket down with a few pillows. I tried to sleep for maybe 20 minutes, but sadly didn't manage to. This was frustrating as my dad was a lot better after his own nap, which was successful.

Later on I tried using my laptop to work on my finances. I have been looking to use a spreadsheet version of the envelope system, like YNAB. As that is a system that appeals to me. As of yet, I've been opposed to using YNAB because they've become a SaaS (software as a service) system, whereby users pay monthly. Because I don't think my small amount of ingoings and outgoings deserve the money for a whole thing like that, I've been reticent to spend the £10 a month on their system. Instead, as with most software solutions, I've been looking at open source alternatives. Firefly looked like the most mature alternative out there. However I can't see a way to simply install it onto a local machine without having to host it anywhere. This is pretty frustrating. So until I figure that out, I've been using old spreadsheet templates with LibreCalc to keep track of where my money has been going.

It's interesting to see what I've been spending money on now, compared to before the corona lockdown was enacted. Prior I spent £25-£50 a month on TFL travel, £60+ per month on salsa lessons, and for a high number, I spent £72.45 on alcohol in the month before the lockdown. In the 2 months since then, I've drunk no alcohol and spent none on it either. It's been nice.

One area that I have been spending more on has been technology. Because Argos is still open, I've been using the opportunity to buy random tech things that would be useful or fun. I bought a Zelda 3ds game and a few Bluetooth speakers. The game hasn't been useful yet, as it's only really for playing with buddies locally. The speakers, however, have been great. I got the JBL Clip3, which has been a vast improvement on the JBLGO that I have been using for the past 3 years. However one purchase that has been tempting me recently was that of an Xbox one X. I say tempting because I haven't bought it, but really rather want to. There's a few things keeping me from buying it now.

A: I don't have time to play it really. I have more than enough to fill my time, that the idea of yet another "project" on my plate would just stress me out.

B: This is the worst time to buy one. Demand is sky-high because everyone's bored at home and out of work. Many shops have sold out of them and its unlikely that any sales will be on during this period. Secondly come OCT-DEC the price for the model I want should drop significantly. This is because it's successor will have hit the stores in time for the holiday period.

C: My main reason is paper thin as history showd. I like to think that if I have this system, I could bring friends round and we could all have a jolly good time and play games together on the regular. We don't do this. I only have an Xbox 360 and that's in my attic somewhere. I very rarely have friends round, and if I do, I would try to avoid playing video games together. This is because my history with video games involve mostly long binges after which I feel awful and hate playing them.

A 2 part solution to the last one, is I could buy the games to the system, however leave them in the hands of my friends. So they bring them with them and I don't have the choice to play them when I'm on my own. I also like the idea of separate parts of a greater system coming together. Like power rangers. The second part of this two part solution is an easy way to segue into having regular meets round mine. We could do a once a month gaming meet. On a Saturday when we'd usually play board and video games at our local nerd bar, we instead go to my house to do the same. This swapping like for like has been shown to be an effective way to change habits. This will reduce how much we spend on alcohol on that day probably.

Or we just get more drunk as the drinks are cheaper from sainsburys.

And we can easy make our own cocktails.