h-notes ∈ May 2021

What a wet month. Can’t believe it’s nearly summer and I’m still putting the heating on and wearing big jumpers.

You can just take a window out to solve a problem

We had some builders round to replace the floor in our loft room because it was a bit squeaky. When they quoted they said it might be awkward getting the boards up our stairs because while the ceiling is high, there’s quite a tight turn. Sure enough, on the day they brought in the boards they spent a lot of time in the morning coming up with an approach to getting them up to the loft.

Did I have a massive ladder? No.

Did I know someone with a massive ladder? No.

Suddenly two extra men appeared and one of the original men was on the flat roof of our bathroom and they were just hoisting the boards up to him. I went up to see because there’s no access to the flat roof from the loft and I hadn’t spotted them climbing up without a ladder.

Turns out, they’d just taken one of our windows out and were happily climbing in and out of the hole to get access to the flat roof, and pulling the boards in that way. Once it was all in, the two extra men left, and the original builders popped the window back in quick as a jiffy.

It had never really occurred to me to treat things like windows as optional in terms of access. It’s just a thing to fill a hole I guess, and like a door you can just take it out.

Vaccine delay

In April I was excited to book my 1st COVID jab for early in May. The day before I got a text message from the NHS which I ignored for most of the day, foolishly assuming it was a reminder. Instead it was a cancellation; the pharmacy I’d booked at hadn’t received their daily delivery of vaccines, so couldn’t jab anyone the following day. I hoped I could rebook with my GP as it’s more convenient than a random pharmacy on a high street several transport modes away, but alas, being a goody-two-shoes I’d already told my GP I didn’t need a vaccine because I’d booked direct via the NHS service and even though that had now been cancelled, the booking service for my GP was resolutely computer-says-no-ing me.

I tried again with the NHS service and did find a slightly more convenient location this time around, but instead of being a week later like I hoped, it was for the end of the month. This also cancelled my 2nd dose which pushed it from 3/4s of the way through July to 1/4 of the way through August which is frustrating.

When I got it, it was over in seconds and I genuinely thought the vaccinator was just prodding my arm to check before actually needling me. I walked home through the park feeling fine. In the evening, on recommendation from Chris I watched ¡Nae Pasaran! at the end of which I was a bit shivery. At first I thought “wow, that doc about the Chilean coup really got to me”, and then I realised “oh, this is my COVID jab”1. I then proceeded to have a terrible night’s (not)sleep and an awful day of feeling headachy and alternately hot and cold. Felt fine on Tuesday though.

Everyone I’ve spoken to has had very different reactions to the vaccine, even accounting for different manufacturers. It’s pretty wild.

This isn’t about me

As recommended by Alice I finally got round to buying a den building kit for R. Often we’ll put a blanket over two chairs and stack the sofa cushions around to make a den. Then fill it with cuddly toys, toast, a laptop and R will happily watch some TV and eat breakfast. It’s not big or comfortable for us to scrunch up into, but R loves it, so I was skeptical that a den kit would enhance this game significantly.

I was wrong. It’s good.

We can make bigger dens and in more places. The clamps do seem a little flimsy, but so far nothing has wanged off and hurt anyone.

When we first used it I was kind of annoyed with myself for not getting the bigger set with poles as I reckon I could really make some fun dens with that. Of course, I realised quickly that was really about making it more fun for me, so I closed the tab, left the bigger set unbought, and went back to sit under the blanket-turned-jabbas-sail-barge with R and her menagerie.

dad feels caused by a blue cartoon dog

They started showing Bluey on CBeebies this month and while the stuff on CBeebies is generally of a higher quality than your standard children’s TV I wasn’t prepared for:

  1. Quite how much R would get into it

    CBeebies shows it in the morning so R can watch it with her toast before nursery, and has a rotating selection of 12 or so episodes on iplayer, so she can watch it whenever she wants, which can be fairly frequently. So we quickly exhausted those, even accounting for R’s desire to rewatch some episodes several times in a row. Luckily I dimly remembered seeing an ad for it elsewhere, and finally found that Disney+ has every episode available. All 104 of them! We’re saved!

  2. Quite how good it really is

    Honestly. It’s really good. More often than with other shows R will often just laugh and laugh while watching it. She’ll frequently want to act out the exact plot-lines of specific episodes too, rather than play generic games where we’re the characters from other shows.

    It’s so good I might even recommend some episodes to those without kids who otherwise have no reason watching it. The parents and kids seem real, the way they interact and play rings true, the imperfections in parenting are all too familiar.

  3. Quite how many dad feels I’d have

    It’s also so good it makes me feel like I’m not a good enough dad. Unlike in other kids shows2 the dad, Bandit, is a character worth emulating. All the characters are well observed, but this dad is … great? The kind of dad I want to be; attentive, available, playful, in-the-moment. The kind of dad I’m not sure I am.

Intuitive Design

Worried that the frenetic button mashing of playing Hades was damaging my laptop keyboard, I bought a PS5 controller to play it with instead. I’ve not used a game controller since the original PlayStation, before analogue sticks were common-place, so I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with the experience. I shouldn’t have worried, turns out it’s really nice using a controller and really natural. Perhaps the video game people have thought about this stuff and made a device that’s super intuitive.

So intuitive that R will pick it up and play aeroplanes (she’s the pilot, the sofa is the plane, we’re the passengers, often we do loop-de-loops) with it if I haven’t hidden it away after playing with it.

Getting it to work perfectly on a mac via steam, however … less intuitive. For the first few weeks I was just putting up with the fact that Hades would tell me to press A to do something and I’d stare at the controller and think, “Is A the square, or the triangle?”. Turns out, there’s a hard to find config toggle where you can turn on the PlayStation controller features and then the buttons are labelled properly in the game UI. Steam of course, knew my controller was a PlayStation one, it just didn’t care to automatically enable the PlayStation config. Maybe because I had to boot into recovery mode and manually approve some steam driver so that macOS would load it, which gave me extreme using-a-windows-PC vibes: “Gotta set my IRQ and configure EMM386 to run this game!”.

Love, Death, Robots

A thing I watched this month was the 2nd series of Love, Death, Robots on Netflix. The first series was very patchy so I wasn’t expecting much from this one, and happily that meant I wasn’t disappointed.

This time around it felt like a missed opportunity that half the episodes went for the same good-but-not-great realistic 3d animation, and of the remaining half only one has hugely different aesthetic. Despite being patchy content-wise, series 1 had a broader palette of animation styles that made it worth watching, series 2 has better content with every episode being based on short fiction from you’ve-heard-of-them authors3, but feels blander because it mostly looks the same. Doesn’t help that “the same” here is middle of the road video-game cutscene animation.

I can’t say I’d recommend it because it’s not actually very good, but I also can’t say I wouldn’t watch a series 3. In these days of hour long prestige dramas it is refreshing that no episode is longer than 18 minutes including credits.

I do wonder if they’re some kind of experiment to find out if the tech is good enough and cheap enough to be used to film everything and to get rid of sets and actors and all the expensive parts of making “content”? Arguably, no, not yet, but maybe soon?

A Wet Party

The day I got my COVID jab it rained heavily in the morning, much like it had for most of May up to that point. We had a semi-socially-distanced birthday party for one of R’s nursery friends in the park that morning too, and no rain was going to put us off. So off we went. There was a gazebo, and some smoothies, and musical statues, and some veggie straws, and some pass the parcel, and some cake, and some wee-ing in a bush. All while it pelted down around us and occasionally we sheltered under a tree. None of the kids seemed to care at all. All the parents grimly bore it and made small talk about school admissions and Disney+.

It was, TBH, pretty great.


Three measly times. It rained a lot. And I had a covid jab to recover from. And and and…


Four, if I squint at it. One book I started in April, the other I finished on the 1st of June. I can’t blame the rain, but I did have a covid jab to recover from. And and and…