Gawd! Is it still bloody January? When will this month end already?

One of the things I wanted to add into our life was weekly adventures with the kids. The intent being to do this regardless of the weather outside. Cargo bike has been in storage for a few weeks now on account of the weather being soo rubbish. Can’t really complain though, it is the middle of January. In the Nordics. What exactly do you expect?

Today was a massive ride all the way to Valby park, up to the beach and past the seagulls. Can’t wait for the weather to get really pleasant so that we can also have picnics outside as well.

When I did my major cull during my digital minimalism days my RSS reader took a battering that it never recovered from. This has meant that I have not really been feeding a lot of my interests very well. The thing to maintain is the signal to noise ratio. It’s about finding those quality newsletters and feeds that don’t spam you but provide a steady stream of updates that is not overwhelming.

I am now thoroughly in the dip phase with the thing I’ve built. Has the newsletter reached the audience I imagined for it…in a word no. I am super grateful to the readership that I have. I do however feel that there are many others that have yet to discover the newsletter. Others hungry to learn more about the built world around us, presented in an interesting manner. I just need to work through the dip and come out the other side.

No idea what it is with the name Russell. First Brand, then Peters now Howard. I guess everyone deserves a good laugh. Food for the soul. Howard’s latest show, Lubricant, is on Netflix and just what I needed during these dark and dreary winter months.

Wild

Today marks four years on Micro.blog today. One of the best internet services that I subscribe to. What’s not to like?

  • It’s not run by a faceless corporation.
  • It gets updated constantly.
  • It’s hooked up to a number of text editors (I subscribe to Drafts just to post to my site).
  • It gets beamed everywhere. WordPress. Tumblr. Twitter. Email newsletter (which needs some TLC).
  • I use it to track my book reading. This one is an outlier feature, but I love it.
  • It transports me back in time every day to past years and what was on my mind that day (one of my favourite features and that’s a plug-in).
  • Gives me an excuse to take photos of things.

Like I said. Wild. Bring on year five.

I picked up The Monk of Mokha on the back of learning more about coffee. Latest chapter about the history and how it spread across the world is nothing short of amazing and worth the price of admission. If you’re curious about coffee, highly recommended.

Two is a movement right? First we got Wordle, now Minimator a web-app that is a first class citizen on your mobile device. It’s a doodle drawing app with attitude. What I love about both these apps is how polished an experience they both provide.

My overall energy levels have been pretty low since coming back from ‘holiday’. In speaking with several in the ‘office’, I could see I was not alone. Then suddenly I just snapped out of it and got a little pep in my step. Human psychology is a strange thing.

Little strokes fell great oaks.

Milestone today. Finished all the edits from my editor. Have a month of polish before book gets published on the 15th of February. Super excited to have the book out there. It’s taken 3 years from launching the newsletter to this point.

Hardest one by far. My brain just really didn’t click today. Wordle 207 6/6.

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Currently going through the final edits of my book, Built Environment Compendium and this comment from my editor Mike is the reason why he is perfect for the job:

A bold and eminently challengeable sentence. You may need to re-write that, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

♟I thought (and hoped) that he would like it. I could not have predicted how much. Zane expects and demands that we play chess daily. Yesterday he got his Queen out early and mullered me. We haven’t even gotten into strategies yet. Can’t wait to see how this interest develops.

Made for the internet. No adverts anywhere to be found. Grabs and holds your attention for about 3min (maybe less) and then tells you to go on your way. See you tomorrow. Nothing more to see here. That is Wordle. I wonder how long such purity can last? For now enjoy it for what it is.

First day back in the ‘office’. Played a ton of Lego. Played a ton of chess. Cooked a ton of good food (and consumed it). Drank. Wrote. Designed. Drew. Read. Watched. Slept. Time to get back to work.

Issue 052 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, ‘White Elephants’. This is the second from last major thing I wanted to get done this holiday. This is also the last issue that uses the orange colour as we move onto the lime green for 2022.

News Years in Denmark is probably the single most uncivilised evening in an otherwise a generally socially conservative country (compared to other European countries). New Years is when the Danes loose their fucking minds and spend a small fortune on fireworks. All fucking day.

🦠 First time ambulance (with hazmat suits) come to our community to take someone with covid. Signs of our times. Sadly this is likely to remain us (in an elevated capacity) for a few more years.

I’m not going to lie this thing turned out great. The secret (that I have somewhat avoided, unconsciously) is sesame oil in the chicken marinade. The only ingredient I was missing was some broccoli. Next time for sure.

As has become a bit of a tradition on this site, slightly new colour scheme for 2022. I’ve now settled on my sensible default backgrounds and in the future will look to only change the accent colours. For 2022 I’ve gone for lime green.

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018
my site

Year of Momentum

2021 was the year of learning. What I have learnt is that in fact I want this to be a constant part of my life. Every year should in some form be the year of learning. This year is when I would say that I finally learnt how to cook. Gaining confidence in the kitchen is an amazing superpower and one I hope to share with my boys. I learnt how to ride a cargo bike. I learnt how to juggle. I learnt about coffee beans (the last space in the coffee world that has eluded me while I learnt brewing techniques).

For 2022, I have decided it shall be the year of momentum. I have put several things in place that I need to continue to build more and more momentum around. Things that I started 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 3 years ago are all on the cusp of bearing fruit. I will persevere through these and make sure I give it my very best. Central to all this is the understanding that you can only control your own actions and reactions. The rest is either a direct consequence or outside your control or ability to influence.

Every 2 years I crack open a new Nanami Cafe Note. 2021 has not been great year for the daily journaling practice. Am determined to rekindle this in 2022. Hobonichi calls their planners ‘Lifebooks’. Any book can have this title and everyone should have one.

Version 2 of Amit’s stat’s plugin just dropped and it really is an important window into your site output. Focusing on your outputs makes you understand where your efforts went. For my part I can see how my general posting dropped this year compared to the incredible consistency of the prior years.

Super fog just came down across Copenhagen. I’ve not seen fog since Dubai. Very different weather conditions of course, currently showing up as -4°C (in Dubai it never got below 18°C).

Christmas is in full swing. Kids in bed. Presents wrapped. This year was harder to keep hidden from the kids. Pretty sure that Ryan will find out Santa’s dirty secret 1st. His main concern was how Santa would get into the house. He was not buying the reasons I was selling.

Where have all these young chefs been hiding all this time. Following on from Chef Jack, I have found Brian Lagerstrom to be a great watch. Funny (but in a different way), his food uses the same basic tools - although his portions seem massive.

Some baking just before Christmas. This thing turned out perfectly. Hats off to Chef Jack - the man has excellent taste in food.

Procreate has an amazing feature which tracks how a piece of art is made. The cover to the Built Environment Compendium Vol.1 was drawn across a few months and remains the most complicated (technically) drawing I have ever worked on.

Now I find out about Tailwind CSS? Looks amazing, although based on my needs, I think Skeleton is just fine for the most part, the hard part is maintaining and cleaning my CSS file (which halfway through the process devolved into a bit of a mess).

Purchases for 2021

I don’t typically do this, but I thought it would be useful to consider the major items I bought this year. Since moving to Denmark I am increasingly more aware of the purchases we make, because frankly they are limited compared to our materialistic lifestyle in Dubai.

Røde microphone

This was the first piece of electronics I bought this year. Excellent build quality. Great size. I never used it beyond a couple of test files. This isn’t to say that I won’t, just that I didn’t incorporate this into my life in 2022. In 2022 I would like to release a single episode at least once a month.

Vaer Watch

While not electronics, this was the first major purchase of the year. I have decided that I want to generally pace my watch buying to a single timepiece a year. This is a marathon not a sprint. The intention is to slowly build up my collection with purpose. While this watch does not have the heritage of many other watch brands, what I liked about it is that it fit into my yearly sub-theme, which is trying to get sensible defaults in place.

AOC screen

For the start of the pandemic I was using my little laptop screen as my primary device. There was a beauty to basically closing my laptop screen at the end of the week, leaving my desk clean for anything I wanted to do. When it became clear that we are in this for a while longer, I bought myself the largest screen that I thought would be compatible in our tiny little apartment. Its a 4K job. While nowhere near the density of my iPad Pro, it offers a huge step forward from everything work provides, while also setting me up nicely for one of my primarily purchases for next year.

Kindle Paperwhite

This was a replacement after 8 years with the previous model. A real upgrade. Glad that I waited as long as I did for this upgrade. At this rate I will get the next one at the end of 2029.

Soundcore Q30 earphones

This is a downgrade from my Sony WX1000, except they are not really. They function excellently, they just don’t feel premium, because they are not. I bought these because I also got the next item as a replacement. These lasted me a hair under 4 years. The issue was a bit of plastic. Tried to fix it but alas it had to be replaced. At 1/3 the price of the WX1000s, my thinking is that as long as these current ones last over 1.5 years then I am winning.

Jabra Elite 75T

Last year I lost one earbud. After many months of looking at the alternative, I decide to bite the bullet and re-order these. What I realised is that the case is super important. The overall design and how this thing fits into your ear is super important. The noise cancelling is super important. Jabra hits all of these at a reasonable price (when compared to the alternatives).

Ikea Modular Couch

We tried to keep using the makeshift Ikea day bed we brought with us from Dubai. It lasted a little under 2 years. It has been a wonderful addition to our living space and adding the lounge section was essential.

Babboe Cargo Curve

We went native with this one and got ourselves a cargo bike. When in Denmark and all that. This is probably Ryan’s favourite thing in the world. He loves vehicles and I can’t wait to use it in the spring and summer to take them all over the city.


Looking at the coming year, the three items I am looking at buying is a Mac Mini, the next watch (looking closely at the Seiko SPB157) and possibly an ivory Pro Gear. Of course I imagine there will be some unscheduled items I will be forced to replace…

In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light.
- Green Lantern

Happy winter solstice everyone. 4 minutes of extra daylight from tomorrow.

Stet.Build v2.0

It has been years since I designed a completely new website. My toolbox of tricks has remained mostly the same - still using Skeleton, which I absolutely love. What has been fascinating is the scope a modern website now needs to serve. Now you have to effectively design four websites in one - desktop, tablet, mobile and dark mode.

Desktop

Version 2.0 of Stet.Build, which has seen very little love since it was launched 3 years ago, is a huge leap forward. I’m glad I took the time to make this the best it can be. I always recognised this was a major project and this has taken me around 6 months to complete (not full time of course).

The mock-ups were done in Affinity Designer - probably over a decade since I have used a vector app to design a website. For the most part I was able to replicate these. The annoying part was loosing some of the mock-ups half way through the design process due to some random name saving error. Top tip, save your work outside the Affinity system.

One of my favourite features of the new site, is the archive feature. A little bit of javascript and filtering the table like magic.

Mobile

When it came to the mobile version, I left it to serendipity and let the pieces fall. I could have spent a little time on this during the mockup stage, however I think that it worked out well in the end.

Dark Mode

This was (and remains) the biggest hurdle. This issue was that the individual artwork looked completely out of place in its native form with the bright white background. The only way around this is to recreate 51 drawings that are more suited to the darker background. This is going to be a work in progress as it is not a top priority - but will get to it all eventually. Issue 50 shows where I am heading with this.

Coding

Finished the mock ups months ago but needed the space (mentally) to dive into the coding. Certainly rusty, I leant into my constraints. My primary machine is my iPad Pro. I lost my MacBook a couple of years ago, and due to all the Apple laptop keyboard fiasco I never pressed the button. I began coding this on the iPad, but it really was an exercise in misery. Forget what they say, the iPad does not have the versatility for something like web production. Until Apple bring the Dev tools over with Safari, its all counterproductive.

The overall Blot system also made it super easy to work on the site while everything else was live. Probably the best setup for developing a website I have ever worked one. Local files that I save and see the impact direct on the site. Genius implementation.

Totally not worth it. Just cooked Mexican rice. Used a habanero chilli and now my left hand is completely on fire. NOTHING is working. Yogurt. Milk. Lime & salt. Baking soda water. Vodka. Hot water and soap. Nothing! It burns.

Free trail for Music meant an education in mid 90s alternative for the boys. It was loud and it was full of energy. I love that I am now able to introduce them to the stuff that I love…instead of watching mindless toy review videos on YouTube.

For Ryan’s birthday we focused around a Super Mario theme. The centrepiece was the Mario Lego set. I was totally sceptical about this, but it completely captured their imagination in a way that no other Lego set has. Zane then asked for a Sonic version of the same.

Sleep Techniques

Its like having a super power. For my entire life I have been one of those really annoying people that could fall asleep pretty much instantly. As soon as, or often just before, my head hits the pillow I am comically out. The drawback has always been getting back to sleep after I have been woken up. I will only decide to pick up digital media after tossing for an hour or more in bed trying desperately to get back to sleep.

I saw a quick post on Kottke, which ultimately is explained in this link. Breathing exercise to help you go to sleep. I didn’t follow this exactly, but remember the hold your breathe part while you inhale/exhale. Have been trying it for several days and it works! Easily one of the most important things that I have learnt this year. The Year of Learning continues to rock on.

A fun little logo I worked on last night for the upcoming Micro.blog baked-in newsletter for this site. I’ve been sitting on the kaa-pow name for a while (using it mainly as a username when kaa is not there).

Got an email this morning that amCharts is shutting down its live website in the coming 6 months. This is one of the clear reasons for not relying on a service that you cannot easily replace. At the start of Stet.Build, I incorporated several graphs into my articles. For the last few years I have avoided this as creating and maintaining these is not based around simple and standard solutions - unless the landscape has changed?

Winter has truly arrived in Denmark. I will say that 2 years in, my body has become accustomed to the cold now - still truly hate the wind when it smacks in your face.