Aug 24, 2019: Rescue

Occasionally, when you travel by bus as much as I do, you’ll recognise the same vehicle. Maybe it’s the posters on that slanty bit of ceiling-wall, or maybe it’s something else entirely like the fact the seats are so uncomfortable you couldn’t allow prisoners to sit on them under the terms of the Geneva Convention. You know, little things.

Or maybe it’s the moth.

Today it was the moth.

Earlier on this week, as I was getting off the bus there was a massive moth banging against one of the windows towards the front of the bus. I was the last person off the bus, and as I walked past it I thought I should have caught it and removed it from the bus. You know, as a kindness, before it was subjected to some horrible youth crushing it to death or something.

But I didn’t.

And, in all honesty, I felt quite bad about it.

Today, I get the bus and it’s got the same bloody moth on it. It’s still on the bus some four or five days later. It’s still flapping about, it’s still trying to get out of the bus. It’s been living on the bus for the best part of a week, something I used to feel I had been doing on my hellish commutes to and from Leeds in my old job.

What I found weird, though, was that it was like it was there for me. And I for it. As I moved down the bus to my preferred seat – midway, raised up a bit – it flew up from those very seats. I sat down, put my ticket in my wallet, and it flew back to the seats and was meandering around the back and top of the seat directly in front of me.

I looked at it, bemused, but it was clearly the same moth from the other day. But I did nothing with it.

And then I started thinking that I should free it. That a bus was no place for a moth. That it should be free, spreading its wings outside. Enjoying life. Not stuck on a First Bus in Huddersfield.

It flew off for a bit and flapped around some seats further in front, where some other people sat. As it did this I began to fear for its life, worried that they would react badly as it flew past and deal it some sort of death blow. But that did not come to pass and it returned to my seat where it, basically, waited on the window, as though it was asking me to catch it and release it.

I mean, if it was asking me, it didn’t make it easy.

It took three goes to get it safely within my hands, as though the first couple of times it was like, “Nope, not ready…” and slipping from my grasp.

But the third time I had it. Grasped in my balled hands, it settled. So I was now on a bus with a moth in my hands. Great move.

Luckily, I was near enough to the window to put it outside. Which I did. And I immediately lost it. I didn’t see it fly away. I hoped it hadn’t just tumbled from my hands onto the road surface, or that the turbulence – the bus set off from a stop as I was mid-freeing – smashed its moth body into the body of the bus.

I was a little sad at that point.

And then at the next stop, I saw it take flight. It flew past my window. I’d like to think it was a gesture of thanks, but I have anthropomorphised this moth enough already.

But I felt better for the whole thing, anyway.

Aug 23, 2019: Code

Possibly spurred on by Carole’s embrace of the Oen University, or conversely her attempts at learning French, I have decided to learn computing languages beccause that’s precisely what a forty-something year old man desperately trying to stay relevant would do. I am but a soul patch, flat cap and twenty years too far away from being a hipster.

I am currently learning C#. I won’t impress you with how much I know. No, seriously. I won’t. I’ve only really started. I muddle my way through the exercises and some of it sinks in and other bits just pass me by. Some of it makes me think, “Ok, and when you were developing this code, that’s the best way you could come up with to do that?” and some of it is just magical and makes instant sense.

I’m learning on my phone, via an app. I have stuff installed on the PC to dabble further but it’s very much the baby steps now. I dabbled in this a couple of years ago and did a tutorial which allowed me to roll a ball around a table, but I can’t pretend to have really understood what I was doing so much as copying most of it and going “ooook”.

But now… well, it’s the same. But I have tests to complete in bit size modules. And it makes a bit more sense. I can even read through code and work out what the output would be. As long as that said code is no more than three lines long and very basic. I am excelling at this shizz.

But the app I use is called SoloLearn.

SoloLearn.

Solo.

Every single time I open up the app, it bombards me with an ad for the premium ad free version (no thanks, mate. I can make do with an add halfway through each section, thank you) and then suggests that I join up with friends to learn faster.

I’m not sure how introducing more people into the mix can help an individual learn faster. If anything, increase in class sizes is seen as somewhat detrimental when it comes to focused learning, as I understand it. Having more people around doesn’t magically make you learn better. If anything it’s a pissing distraction, with their questions and their smugness and their knowing what they’re doing.

Secondly, and this is my main gripe, the app is called SoloLearn.

Solo.

As in, on your lonesome.

Or the space cowboy.

But probably, mainly, the on your own bit.

I assume it’s meant to embody the solo spirit as in you don’t need an educational facility to learn this stuff but either way, I don’t think something called SoloLearn should be almost forcing me to go out into the big wide world (or at the very least click on the tab that’s a bit like Facebook but with more nerds) and try and befriend a spod.

I’m learning loops at the moment. Quite appropriately. It works well for each log in. Because it’s a loop in which I refuse to get friends. Every time.

I was going to write that in code down here, but I’m not ready to be judged by the world.

And I don’t have any friends to bounce it off (see above), so…

Aug 22, 2019: Paws

I was at work yesterday, through the afternoon and into the evening.

Carole started sending me pictures, and a little video, of a small cat, maybe kitten, that was outside our back door and really looked like it wanted to come in. It was bloody gorgeous. And we all know the rules establish by Carole’s sister, Lorna – if a cat comes close enough to your home that it may as well be inside then you can just have it. That’s the way cats work.

And a couple of weeks ago, nice next door told me about a cat that sat outside the cat flap clearly wanting to get in.

I assume it must be the same one.

Fate is bringing us the fabled Pickle. I mean, that’s the only possible explanation.

So, excitedly, I look out for it all day today. Or as much of today as I can. I go in the shed for stuff. I assume it must be living in the shed. This ticks the boxes on Lorna’s “How To Own A Cat” checklist. If it lives in your outbuilding then it’s as good as yours. No sign of it.

I check again later. Nothing. Later still. Still nothing.

Why does everyone else see the cat and not me. Carole fed it a little bit yesterday, so I mean it has our food in it, so it clearly belongs to us now (as per Lorna’s cat rules again), but more than that hopefully its meal yesterday will entice it back.

Just apparently not when I – the one who will most definitely try and pick it up (that practically releases the balloons on the “You Now Own A Cat” phase of Lorna’s rules) – am around to see it.

I have a few quality hours tomorrow. I might sit on the doorstep with a can of tuna.

You know, as you do.

Aug 21, 2019: Underoos

I think, waking up this morning and reading the news. was one of the saddest mornings ever. Absolutely heartbreaking. And I don’t mean the bit about David Attenborough now wading in on Brexit.

I mean the bit about Spider-Man and the MCU parting company.

Marvel sold off the rights to a fair few of their characters, when times were tight, to other companies. And there has been mixed success. By which I mean, mainly poor but some alright stuff. Spider-Man, as a Sony only, has dabbled from good to bad to the one with the symbiote suit and the dancing.

But when it was announced that a deal had been set to allow Spidey to appear in the MCU it was like a glorious little shining light of lovely. And it provided the heart of the Infinity War-Endgame storyline.

And Homecoming and Far From Home were awesome.

But now the deal has soured a little because Disney and Marvel said, “Hey, can we have an equal share to the monies we make on these Spidey movies.” And Sony went, “No.” And Marvel went, “but we drew him in the first place.” And Sony went, “Meh, we paid for him aaaages ago. We got him at a bargain price. And now we’re swimming in our money towers like Scrooge McDuck… oo, hey, Disney, is Scrooge McDuck for sale?”

I imagine that’s how it happened.

So any future Spidey films won’t have Kevin Feige overseeing the whole thing.

Now… some people are okay with this. Most are not.

I am not. It sucks balls. Spider should be in the MCU, he always should have been. And with Marvel pulling back the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, it seems bloody stupid to have these characters titting around on the outside of an expansive universe.

Also the last time anyone did anything like this – continued a successful series – without the proper oversight or understanding of the source material and the worlds in which it dwelled – we (you, not we – I couldn’t give a toss) got Game Of Thrones Season 8. Which everyone cries about.

Everyone.

And it was funny then. Because dragon nerds were upset.

But now it’s happening to me and frankly the prospect of there never being a Doctor Strange and Spider-Man buddy movie now really fricking steams my milk.

Aug 20, 2019: Ingress

It’s a bit of a strange experience when you find yourself having to break into one of your escape rooms instead of watching people break out.

We’d had a team in who, being two-thirds young children, were in everything as you might imagine. It’s always fun watching things being used for things you never really thought they’d be used for. But one of the favourite things of the younger hands, we’ve discovered, is to flick latches on door locks.

Which is fine. It’s a very child thing to do – half of the toys for young children have switches to flick or buttons to turn. It makes sense that presented with a flickable switch in real life they’d be all over it.

Unfortunately, when we’d reset the room, we didn’t realise they’d done it.

So we locked ourselves out of the Dungeon. The other two doors led to locked areas – locked from the other side, I hasten to add. It was a bit of a bugger.

So it was me versus a Yale lock. My boss wanted me to break the Yale lock off the frame by putting pressure on the door. As he was telling me this, I was looking at another door frame with a Yale latch on it and knew it wouldn’t be happening. He offered to come and do it, at one point, because he thought it would be better if he broke anything rather than if I did. But in the greater scheme of things he’s a twig and I’m a trunk. It seemed unlikely.

Instead, I was coming up with an idea to maybe manipulate one of the directional locks so that I could open it – an idea which, I will admit was the crazy talk of a man clutching at straws because there was no way I’d be able to get in a position to move the joystick of the lock in the directions (reversed for me) they needed to move in.

But as I was trying this I spotted that I might be able to unscrew the hatch doors from the side I was at, kick that out of the way and make my way into the Dungeon.

And that’s exactly what I wanted to be doing with fifteen minutes left until my bus was due!

I’m just glad I found it tonight and not tomorrow when I turned up for work before my first game in the dungeon. I wasn’t even originally supposed to be in tonight anyway, so it may have gone unnoticed as it was. But then, the very act of observation changings the behaviour so maybe by not being there it wouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Either way, I think I’m the first person – aside from those stupid robbers who broke into the fake bank room in Manchester thinking it was real – to break into an escape room.

Probably.