Rat-on-a-rope

I’ve had a lot of weird stuff thrown at me during the course of my life. I’m putting Rat-on-a-rope at the top of the list.

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I should probably mention that the rat is, in its present condition, very much deceased. Although whether it died on impact or was dead prior to becoming airborne is not immediately clear to me. I am not a detective, nor did I feel comfortable checking the rigor status of the recently departed rodent.

I was likely NOT the intended recipient of the arium rattus. I just happened to be in the general vicinity when it fell from the sky. It came sailing over a five meter high wall at the back of my warehouse, (I sometimes go sit in the sun on the container ramp and eat my lunch) so I have no idea who launched it.

Perplexed I wondered what I should do. Was this a game? Was someone waiting on the other side of the wall ready to receive? I imagined some indigent, Goonie* type monster with no friends, casting out into the world, willing someone to play catch. 

*I realize this may date me.

My day actually started off with another dead body. I don’t know that person died either. They were covered in foil which in turn was weighed down with bricks and bits of detritus to stop it blowing away (the foil I mean). Two uniformed officers were busy taping off the area with that ubiquitous yellow tape. It annoyed me because it was causing traffic to bottleneck. Hopefully my legacy on this planet is not to fuck up traffic for an hour.

I don’t think the two cases are related.

But as I’ve said, I am not a detective.

Hide and seek

The little person surreptitiously hid away my keys before story time last night. This lead to an increasingly more frantic search this morning as I upended the house searching for them. Eventually she woke up. ‘Do you know where you put daddy’s keys?’

(Almost) Two year old’s are naturally resistant to interrogation I’ve found. ‘Me, funny’ and then running down the passage, doesn’t, as you might imagine, give you very much to work with. Especially when you’ve just gone through the trash (outside, in the pouring rain)

She had at some point during the evening, likely when I was supine on the sofa and preoccupied with my phone, clandestinely concealed them in her puzzle box. You know the one that comes with predetermined cut-outs and you’re supposed to put the correct shape in the correct slot. (I’ve gotten quite good at this)

‘Hey guys, help me look for my keys’

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‘Zzzzzzzzz… zzzzzzzz’

Eventually my wife found them. She has better instincts for what little people might do with objects of desire (keys, iPhone’s and credit cards). In fact without assistance I would still be wandering aimlessly through the house, likely mewling and feeling sorry for myself. (this is kinda my go-to response to frustrating events)

South Africans find moisture very challenging and now delayed, my morning commute became the aquatic version of ‘Fury Road’.

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It also meant that going to gym died stillborn.

On the plus side I did get my 400% badge yesterday. (required another 30 minutes of shadow boxing and push ups in my pajamas)

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I feel like one of the cool kids now. Whether or not this will allow me to sit with the cheerleaders and football jocks remains to be seen.

I am however, hopeful.

Happy Saint Joey’s Day

Statistically the 23rd of January is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. (Northern hemisphere winter and also the day that people are supposedly the most broke) It is also my birthday. Which is either auspicious. Or suspicious depending on where you stand.

While not yet officially canonized by the Catholic church, Joey has preempted matters somewhat. Saint Joey, patron saint of procrastinators and lost causes. I’m assuming those haven’t been taken yet (although I’m not exactly current on the sainthood spheres of influence). I will now preform the first of many miracles by making this three egg omelet disappear.

Today I am 39 rotations.

Which I always imagined was ridiculously ancient.

I must be honest I am quite glad to be here. I almost didn’t make it. This time last year I was still reeling from the after effects of a pulmonary embolism.

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Δ An MRI, post embolism and subsequent express train to my lungs. I developed a clot on my right forearm just under my elbow which disintegrated and the associated shrapnel from that lodged in my lungs. Apparently this is quite unusual, since I had none of the risk factors, possibly a boxing or jujitsu injury. Although no one can tell me for sure. Interestingly this is what killed Theodore Roosevelt (my all time favorite human)

Better in my lungs than in my brain.

I started today at 4am with a mini-triathlon.

Emphasis on the word mini. 5km round the track. 5mi on the stationary bike and then 500mtrs in the pool.  I’ve decided that I don’t really want to turn forty and be more or less the same person I was when I was turning thirty nine. That seems a little defeatist. I’d like to better… stronger, faster and smarter.

The latter might be beyond my control, but maybe I can do something about the other two.

Looking back on thirty eight I did learn a couple of things…

  1. Don’t chop up chilies and then go down on your wife (or probably anyone for that matter)
  2. Heel cream is NOT toothpaste, even when enclosed in similar packaging with similar viscosity
  3. If it tastes funny, stop brushing.
  4. Your child vomiting on you is less onerous than your date vomiting on you. (which is very onerous)
  5. Operating on yourself with a pair of nail scissors may not lead to optimum results
  6. And also infection.
  7. And finally… my co-workers may be smarter than I give them credit for…

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(This decoy didn’t work. Or rather, didn’t work for as long as I had intended)

I got nifty birthday presents. Every year I say ‘oh, I’m fine, I don’t really need anything’. When I was eighteen my parents gave me a self-help book (Don’t sweat the small stuff) and a chess set with missing pieces. (I’m still wondering if by small stuff they might have been referring to the missing pawns) Which leads me to believe that maybe I should have rather asked for something. Things have improved dramatically since then…

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These days people ‘get me’. Joey-polis is getting some public transport. They’ve always had a very good rail system. But the addition of a bus service will definitely help out my citizens.

In other news I have finally updated my Fundamental Joeyism page into something I am happy with (took me a while)

Anyways, wishing you all a very happy Saint Joey’s day. Hopefully it is of the extremely groovy variety. May your hemorrhoids never hang like grapes.

The dramatization of an otherwise trivial event.

I stood on a bee. (Not just any ordinary honey bee, an African killer bee*)

*I’m trying to make this story sound more dramatic than it really was.

Barefoot and almost naked, I had just come to the conclusion that frying up bacon in my boxer shorts wasn’t the greatest idea in the world (after getting bacon fat spattered in the general direction of my nipples). I had just stepped over to don my Nelson Mandela apron when I stood on the errant bee. If only I still had hobbit feet.

There was the perfunctory utterance of profanity and then I shouted for my wife (as one does) who expertly tweezed the sting and associated poison sac from my foot. (While I lay back on the bed and fought the urge to go towards the light)

This is the second bee I’ve stood on recently. Prior to that I’d gone twenty years without any close encounters of the bee kind. The last time I got stung (when I was in junior high) I swelled up like a basketball and they told me I was allergic. In addition to this life altering news they said that I should carry round this vial of blue pills (unfortunately not the matrix kind) with me at all times, which would hopefully allay my demise. I don’t think epi-pens were a thing back then yet. I lost the vial shortly thereafter… but I have been telling everyone since then (from the dietitian to the anesthetist) that I am allergic to bees.

‘As requested we have brought you the corpse of the purple-traitor’

The problem with wondering if you’re going to go into anaphylactic shock is you start stressing about going into anaphylactic shock. Which sounds stupid, but I was fully expecting my throat to close up and choke to death. My blood pressure and heart rate spiked dramatically (a sure sign of things to come I imagined). To cut a harrowing twenty minute story short, I didn’t die. In fact the entire episode was completely self fabricated. Turns out I’m not allergic to bees. Not even slightly, other than in my mind. I think there might be a life lesson in there somewhere. (Like don’t trust doctors*)

*yeah, this is my takeaway.

Sufficed to say this bee sting episode was a lot less traumatic than the previous one. Which was kinda embarrassing. I clocked 5.4km round the track and then 500mtrs in the pool this morning with (almost*) no ill effects.

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* other than to my pride. I was lapped round the track by a guy with a serious impediment. His right foot was almost at a right angle to his left foot, which looks really awkward and you might suppose he wouldn’t be able to bring the pace… but there he was. In my defense I had a bee sting!

Tomorrow I will train harder.

Lupus, pie and chilies that can burn your face off.

How does it go again? What’s worse than finding a toenail in your pie? Finding the bandaid that was holding it on.

I generally avoid savory pies for this reason. For me pies have always conjured up the image of a man in gumboots mopping the slaughterhouse floor, corralling all the beef detritus into the central drain and then shoveling it into a bucket (later to be combined with ground up hooves and snouts). That’s the meat destined for your pepper steak pie.

We took my daughter for a hair cut this weekend. Which is weirdly exciting for me because the kiddies barbershop has a very decent bookshop next door and across from them is a Morroccan restaurant.

The Morroccan restaurant sells lamb pies. (I love North African food)

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I make a massive exception to my rule for these. They are remarkably delicious, combining the two ambrosia like elements of lamb and pastry. They also don’t skimp on the meat. Just thinking about it makes me salivate uncontrollably.

The little person is taking her afternoon siesta. It’s been a rough morning of arts and crafts and playing Duplo.

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‘Look daddy a cute little lion cub’ OMG BEHIND YOU!!!! (I try and teach my daughter useful survival skills through allegory)

I have my free hour now (maybe an hour an a half if I’m lucky) to kick back and blog. I’ve been joined by a creature. (In our house the humans lie on the floor)

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My German has lupus. Which is why her nose looks a little raw. I know it’s NEVER lupus (Dr. House) but in her case it really is.

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Have some Lupus dad. Right in your eye hole.

For lunch we made sticky teriyaki aubergine. As a Christmas present my sister gave me this…

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Generally I find Jamie Oliver receipes quite hit or miss. We’ve been slowly working our way through this one since Yuletide. So far its mostly been quite good. The sticky teriyaki aubergine today was excellent, and more importantly used stuff from my garden almost exclusively. Except peanuts. And teriyaki sauce.

Maybe next time with slightly less chili. My crop this year has largely been a disaster. I had quite high hopes planting Telica (my all time favorite eating chili), habaneros, Tabasco and chocolate flavored varieties. Only a hail storm in early spring  annihilated all my seedlings save three plants. The lone jalapeño that survived can pit titanium as far as I’m concerned. Goddamn!

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In other news I plan to round out my afternoon furlough with 30 minutes of PlayStation. (Hopefully) In fact I should start with that… now.

Not bananas!

My sole experience with plantains was accidentally buying one in a supermarket in Hell’s Kitchen, just off Columbus Ave. I thought I was buying a banana.

What he hell is wrong with this thing I wondered shortly thereafter, completely disgusted and spitting the half chewed contents into a bin.

At the green grocer on Sunday morning I noticed a crate labelled Plantains. And then underneath someone had scrawled ‘Not Bananas!!!’ in sharpie. I felt quite smug that I knew this already.

Supposedly Plantains are a super healthy alternative to starchy carbohydrates. Kinda like Sweet potatoes, so I bought a couple, not entirely sure what I was going to do with them. (I’m trying to mix things up and not buy the same old boring produce every week. Next time I might might dive off the deep end and buy some okra!)

This morning  I furtively googled how to cook a pla…

Placenta?!?!?

I find it quite worrying that Google suggests placenta as an option to finish your search query. Is this really such a commonly googled phrase? I know some cultures do eat* human placenta (I know this from my prenatal class… in so far as you needed to let them know that you wanted the placenta post delivery and that you needed some sort of document or form lest you were mistaken for an organ trafficker or witch doctor) In any event I didn’t really think people actually went for this sort of thing… but humanity constantly surprises me.

*with a fava beans and a nice Chianti?

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Anyways. The first recipe that popped up was frying them up for 4 to six minutes a side. (The Plantains I mean) Which is nice, I imagine, if you like your food resembling and tasting like charcoal. After about a minute and a half on each side they were done.

They were quite tasty. I’m not sure what they taste like…. certainly not at all like a banana… maybe more like a potato fritter (kinda). It had my mind doing mental somersaults. Like some weird herbaceous Batesian mimicry. (There might actually be a term for food that looks like other food that isn’t, but I only know the milk snake/coral snake zoological version)

I think I could get into it though. I’m trying to reduce my carb intake these days and this seems not only super easy to prepare but also infinitely substitutable.

Canis familiaris foetidus

Apparently the noise humans find most comforting is the crackling of a fire, combined with the snoring of dogs. It’s apparently an ancestral thing. I can get behind that with out much further rationale.

Currently however I am getting an additional sensory input. That of damp German Shepherd.

I took the dogs to the park this morning at 5am before it got blisteringly warm. The basset hound being ostensibly lower to the ground than his counterpart and the fact that he is also a firm adherent of the ‘let no muddy puddle be left unplumbed’ school of dog waking, came home looking a tad worse for wear.

While I can abide a stinky French man, my wife/his mother cannot. After a brief chase around the garden the le petite corporal was captured, harangued and then placed in the tub of torture.

The German adding her input on techniques best suited to water board a baguette eater.

It’s not so bad, here let me put this damp towel on your head.

After the basset hound we thought maybe we should give the German a go. None of us really relished the thought. The basset hound, once in the tub of torture, becomes super compliant. The German fights you the whole time. Alternating with shaking like a leaf. Which means I have to implement some doggie type Ju-Jitsu on her while the wife does stuff with shampoo and the garden hose.

For our sins (and because she is basically a 40kg sponge) we now to sleep to the aroma of moist canine assailing our nostrils.

In other news I finished building my Christmas present!

The residents of Joey… polis have a new carousel. And they are very pleased with their benevolent, omnipotent, sky god, creator type person.

I really enjoyed building this set. In fact I’m super impressed with the engineering that went into its construction. The whole contraption is driven by a single axle which is then ‘geared’ up to create the rotation of the carousel and the up and down motion of the animal figures. I’m not naturally inclined towards this ‘type’ of thinking, so I find it incredibly clever. I’m ridiculously excited for this years ‘creator’ releases. I’ve already racked up some serious YouTube time perusing sets and watching reviews.

Almost free stuff.

I broke my Fitbit.

…sooooo my Fitbit broke. (Like a car accident let me not admit culpability). And then two weeks later I broke my wife’s Apple Watch

my wife’s Apple Watch broke (randomly)

The resulting trauma of these events fueled a foamy and introspective apoplexy where I raged against all fitness trackers and vowed from hereon-out to track my fitness data via journal (with a pencil) instead..

…that little endeavor lasted about a week before rolling over and assuming a position not unlike a dead bug. Clearly I have almost no capacity to self motivate.

I need colored circles and stupid achievements. I’m guessing that is probably psychologically quite telling and likely positions me on the spectrum of someone not to share a foxhole with.

I’ve been counting down the days for my banking rewards program to assign spurious pretend money to my account, which happened this morning. (I have this thing about not spending real money on such frivolity)

Sha-zam! Four hours later I have a new shiny Apple Watch.

I have to laugh at the size of the delivery box though. Although maybe they just didn’t trust their courier, so they Trojan horsed it. Which now that I think about it actually makes sense to me.

In other news our slide got delivered yesterday afternoon.

We’ve been building a fort (raised platform, whatever) in the garden for the girl spawn. Up until this point its been a completely free exercise. We’ve using wood (pallets, boxes, container dunnage, etc) that I’ve scavenged from work and brought home piecemeal. The only thing we’ve paid actually money for was the fiberglass slide.

Basset hound used for scale.

The little ‘house’ structure was also free. My brother in law was using it as dog kennel but it was starting to fall apart (and his dogs never used it anyway) so he offered it to me. Replaced some of the rotting timber, a coat of paint, a home made stable door and Tada! This corner of the domicile is starting to take on the form of a real Branch Davidian compound (from which to wage war)

Jo sticks the landing. But gets smashed by a German Shepherd in full gallop shortly hereafter.

*fade to black*

Drums in the deep…

My two year old daughter likes the Pixies.

Specifically Vamos off the Surfer Rosa Album. Which is probably the most ‘insane’ song off any Pixies Album. I used the word probably quite loosely.

To be fair she also likes the Muppet show.

Actually so do I. They don’t make ’em like that anymore. Spectacularly creative titles like, ‘The Great Gonzo eats a rubber tire to The Flight of the Bumble Bee’, and ‘I’m in love with a big, blue frog’.

In any event I’ve been wondering if should buy her a (tiny) bass guitar, à la Kim Deal, in an attempt to head off the inevitable progression towards becoming a drummer (like her mother)

I have this reoccurring nightmare where all my progeny are girls and all of them want to be drummers and I live out the rest of my days in this estrogen infused haze, driven slowly mad by the rhythmic thumping of the tom and snare.

My wife used to have an acoustic kit set up.  The down side to this is that everyone* within a quarter mile radius knows when you’re practicing.

*What do you mean everyone? EVERYONE!!!!!

Its difficult to express in words how much I love Gary Oldman.

Weirdly the German Shepherd loves the drums. She’s used to come in and lie on the sofa. In fact she was super upset (in so far as I can read doggy emotions) when my wife swapped to headphones and electric. The lying-on-the-sofa-playing-PlayStation version of me was very glad. (difficult to hear the sound of my gunfire over the crash of the hi-hat)

My libertarianism suggests that I shouldn’t try influence the musical instrument proclivity or disposition of my daughter… and if she wants to play the Tuba… or the drums… so be it.

 

 

 

*opens browser*

Second Hand bass guitars

GO!

Housekeeping and accouterments

I cleaned out my shooting bag yesterday. I seesaw between fanatical orderliness (The Prussian trait of Ordnungsinn) and the worst kind of slovenly disregard for my gear.

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Everything is neat and tidy (again) and the empty shell casings have been transferred into… a plastic fishbowl… which now graces a position of prominence on the bookshelf in my office…

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Where I imagine that it makes an interesting feature. You may also be able to deduce from this picture that I am a Ryan Holiday fanboy. I would deny it of course…. but I think I really might be. Although I’ve stopped following him on Instagram, because his donkeys and daily workouts are boring and repetitive*. Also I am back on Instagram. (#resolution fail)

*I can be mean about a stoic. Because if he chooses not to feel slighted, he won’t be 😀

The previous resident of the fish bowl was a Brown house snake I’d caught. It had wrapped itself around the light next to my kitchen door and on leaving to go work I’d suddenly become aware of something brown and snake like in my peripheral vision.

I wearily managed to unfurl it from around the light and coaxed it into the fish bowl using my fencing épée. Being relatively juvenile in mind I had to bring it to work to show everyone my achievement. (you know, show and tell)

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I even went to the pet shop and bought it a pinkie, which it dutiful devoured. But then I felt sorry for it, so it was transferred it into a Tupperware container and gave it to one of my sales guys who released it that evening on his small holding.

In other, sadder news, I finished book three of Kings Dark Tidings on Audible this morning on my way in to work.

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I love this series. I’m generally not a big fan of the fantasy and sci-fiction genres, (because there’s so much rubbish) Nick Podehl, the reader of Kings Dark Tidings series, is phenomenally good. In fact he may be my favorite voice artist. I’m sad that I have to wait another year for the next one. My binge reading/watching mind demands immediate satisfaction!

When is it Bibliomania?

I don’t want to brag or anything, but while you were unwrapping your lame ass socks for Christmas I got this…

My wife gets me.

I’m about half way. ‘You can see how challenging it is because it says 16+ on the box’, my sales manager says to me when we compare swag. I agree with her, but afterwards I think she’s might have laced that observation with irreverence and snark.

My weekend was spent building Lego interspaced liberally with reading. I have a modest resolution this year to read at least one book per week. I’m counting The Diary of a wimpy kid box set I bought online as one… because otherwise I’d already be 9/52.

When I wasn’t achieving either of these two activities I was swimming. I say swimming, which might evoke the image of someone earnestly achieving laps, possibly freestyle.

In my case swimming means lazily gliding underwater from one end of the pool to the other using the minimum amount of effort and energy.

I find building Lego and swimming underwater for distance quite meditative, in so far as it allows me to escape my mind for a bit and enter the realm of pure focus.

Interestingly I can’t achieve that with books (anymore). Based heavily recommendation I started listening to The Shallows, what the internet is doing to our brains, on Audible. I’m only about two hours in, but it’s been a frightening two hours. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has been wondering why they’ve suddenly gotten so shit at reading.

For all it’s benefits the internet is changing us. The ultimate double edged sword.

My stack for the next while.

I’ve semi-committed to not buying more books until I’ve finished the ones I’ve got. Which is a basically an untenable situation… and likely a commitment that will be disregarded in the very near future. Maybe even now…

Achtung.

Me and my daughter went to the Museum of Military History this morning and took selfies with tanks (as one does)To be fair I took the selfies and she tried to stick her fingers in my mouth.I’m going to go out on a limb and say Russian T-55. I was too busy chasing the midget through the gun park to read any of the plaques. For the first hour we were the only ones there, so we had the whole place to ourselves, save one lone gardener mowing the lawn. I really like this museum. Mostly because it has this!This is a Messerschmitt Me 262. Only this the two seater night fighter version. It’s the only one left in the world. Designated Red 8 (how very Star Wars). I’m not really a ‘plane’ guy, but the styling and engineering that went into this plane fascinates me. I even have a scale model of an Me 262 on my book shelf.

Along with a plastic bunny.

And Nathan Drake sporting an AK SU 74.

After the museum we went to the bike park. She’s not old enough to ride bikes, but she likes to monopolize the wooden Jeep analog and watch the other children play. I have to sit in the back and occasionally pop a grape into her mouth whiles she drives us to ‘woolies’ to buy ‘sweeties’. At 21 months she already knows where the good stuff is.

Halfling feet and warblers

In the ultimate display of bourgeois fuckery I am blogging (and drinking espresso) while having a pedicure. After nigh on two weeks of not wearing shoes, bare shod rock pool bouldering and beach running, my feet are looking rough. I feel I could march across devil thorns and boiling hot tar and be only mildly inconvenienced.

While I appreciate the practicality in having the environmentally hardened soles of a hobbit, aesthetically it is less than appealing. And so, here I am, surrounded by women getting their French tips done, while Noma (my regular) takes a tool box full of instruments*, salves and lotions to my trotters.

*wait, is that a wood chisel?

I took my daughter to the Bird park earlier (her mother is back at work already). We mozied round in lackadaisical fashion taking in the various avians, but she spent most of her allotted time intrigued by the lemurs.

I liked these hens. I thought they looked wicked, like the sort of fowl that Tim Burton might own. Or the groundskeeper at Bran Castle. Maybe that’s just me though.

We also had brunch there. I left an appropriately themed tip. (Equal parts pretentious and annoying*) The origami one can fold out of a Euro or Rand sized bill are quite limited. USD are longer so you have slightly more options (I think).

*waitrons have to unfurl your stupid design and your notes are so scrunched up and creased that no vending machine will take them (ever again).

Afterwards we browsed books. My poor daughter doesn’t know television exists yet. We’re trying to keep that up for as long as possible. I found this awesome illustrated book on Proust as well as The History of ninjutsu (which didn’t immediately look like bullshit). Both of which I would have bought, only I’d left my credit card at home. C’est la vie. Next time.

Tomorrow is another father-daughter day. We are hitting up a museum that might be deemed inappropriate for a girl child. Caroline Paul would be proud.

Getting your thing wet.

Every year this event polarizes more people than religion, gender or politics ever could. Either you’re the sort of person that makes New year’s resolutions. Or you’re the sort of person that maligns the concept and slanders those who take up the challenge.

I try to be dichotomous about New Year’s resolutions, insofar as, I sometimes make some resolutions, but I also try to be incredibly disparaging about others that do the same. That way I can straddle the divide, dexterously dipping my junk into the strait that flows between us. The great unifier.

To coincide with this rather arbitrary date, denoting a passing of 365.25 rotations that our insignificant planet has made around a 4.6 billion year old yellow dwarf, I have decided on the following resolutions.

One. Stop drinking coffee.

I briefly considered this. But then thought that I have genuinely altruistic motives for NOT curtailing my consumption of coffee beans, born of real concern for the GDP of Kenya, which as I understand it, might be severely compromised if I were to slack off. Don’t worry minimum slave guys, I got your back. Also I really like coffee… and I’m not a masochist (besides having children I mean)

Two. Stop with the news.

I’ve tried and failed at this one before. I found it very easy to slip back into compulsively checking my news-feeds. This one has always been problematic for me, because bereft of information overload I am genuinely more cheerful, but eventually I develop this angst that I’m becoming insular and uninformed. There doesn’t seem to be happy balance for me and so I see-saw between extremes. Not sure how this one will go for me.

Three. No more social media.

This one should be pretty easy, since I long ago weaned myself off of Facebook. I am finally off Twitter. I still have an Instagram account that I have been nostalgically clinging to, but I think the time has come (the Walrus said*) for that to go.

*’to talk of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings. And why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings’.

Otherwise a couple of tweaks here and there. Possibly maybe.

The truth is that I am constantly putting ‘new’ resolutions into play, be they New years or any other day of the year… and constantly failing at them. I fail much more than I succeed.

Four. Listen to more jazz.

I’m listening to Sonny Stitt in the background. It’s really good. I should do that more often.