December was dominated by settling into my new job. Things are chaotic at present, with five hours of meetings some days, and little time to do my actual work. I’m mostly enjoying it but the job has sometimes felt vampiric. Christmas preparations were continually blown away as work took all my energy, and I sent many of my cards late and never got a tree. I didn’t transition to a crunch-mode lifestyle, so my diet was very poor. Things should calm down at the start of next year, but this was a tricky month.
I have done a few things other than work, with Kaylee coming to visit, and Vicky bringing Libby the Greyhound after Christmas. I also worked on the Discordian Parish Magazine, which we’re selling via etsy. I’m enjoying the social side of working in an office in Leeds, including the office Christmas party where we went to a darts venue. Hebden Bridge had snow in December’s second week, which looked beautiful, but turned the streets into a dangerous ice-rink.
I walked 317,061 steps in November, an average of just 10,227 a day, with the highest daily total being for a walk to Howarth. That trek also included a wintry fresh water swim – very short but invigorating. I also had a good snowy walk to High Brown Knoll with Lola the Labrador. There was a failed attempt to walk to the Bridestones where we left too late in the afternoon. We might have annoyed the boggarts, since Jamie’s shoes fell apart. My weight remained pretty much unchanged through the month.
Elon Musk managed to turn twitter into a fiasco with surprising speed, and this spurred me to start using my Mastodon account. First impressions are that Mastodon is slower and quieter, but it’s also friendlier, with some of the feeling of early twitter. The local moderation seems to work much better than the one-size-fits-all approach taken by Twitter or Meta. It’s a very different experience, but could be a good replacement. I’m @email@example.com.
With the end of the year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my writing and decided that I’d rather not spend so much energy on submitting stories to publications. I’d prefer to make my own little story zines, or other artefacts. I’m excited about the prospect, although self-publishing brings its own challenges.
I read 9 books in December. Last One at the Party was a sort of lit-fit versions of the 80s kids comics where only one person survives the apocalypse. Robin Ince’s Bibliomaniac was a cosy book-tour diary that should not have worked, but was a good book companion and got me excited about second hand bookshops again. Keiron Gillen’s Immortal X-Men was fun, but much of the wider plot was inscrutable. I think current Marvel continuity is very much aimed at people who want to be reading the whole X-Men franchise. I don’t really have the attention or the funds to keep up with plots across several ongoing series.
I agreed with most of the points in Laura Bates’ Men Who Hate Women, but sometimes the journalistic/sensational tone did not work for me. The issues Bates discusses are indeed sensational and horrifying, but I would have liked some deeper analysis. For example, while the men described are awful, there’s an odd tension between the sympathy for the boys and young men who are being radicalised, and how those embedded within the communities that were described as evil and irredeemable. Quibbles aside, it was an important book, and a brave one too, given the viciousness of the communities Bates wrote about. Violence and misogyny have been normalised in our culture, and sadly Bates’ book is not making the impact it should.
One Man and His Bog was an account of walking the Pennine Way in the 1980s. I found the humour a little forced, but the Goodreads reviews suggest many people disagree with me. Also disappointing was Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger 3, where Wilson had drifted from multi-model agnosticism to gammony opinions about feminism and PC. I also published a blog post listing my favourite books of 2022.
I watched the rest of The Peripheral, but never felt as gripped as I wanted to. Inspector Lowbeer stole the limelight once she turned up, making me wish she’d been the show’s focus. I watched a little of Netflix’s Turkish linguistics dystopia Hot Skull, which was interesting but didn’t quite take for me. Star Wars prequel-prequel Andor was mostly relegated to background watching. It was exquisitely made, but I wasn’t sure what aspect of the story required it to be set in the Star Wars universe. I did love much enjoyed seeing Cleveley’s seafront repurposed as the resort world Niamos. Just after Christmas, Disney Plus finally dropped the new season of Atlanta. I’m enjoying how disinterested this feels in being a regular show.
I watched 7 films in December, with highlights being Norwegian kaiju flick Troll, and star-filled drama Cop Land. X was a surprisingly good slasher film, with some editing that was so weird and disconcerting that I fell in love with the film. Saint Maud was a slow movie with a surprisingly strong payoff. Silent Night was a very dark Christmas movie that surprised me with how grim it was prepared to get. Even more than the film itself, I loved the reviews by outraged viewers who felt it went Too Far.
Some odds and ends:
- After getting some awful headaches at the start of the month, I’ve been completely off coffee. However, I do have cravings for decaf most mornings.
- Last December we had the log4shell issue, and this year we had the disasters at Lastpass. I’ve closed that account and updated all the passwords I had stored in that manager. Very frustrating.
- Tim Harford hosted a podcast episode called The Conspiracy Theorist Who Changed his Mind which had some interesting discussion of how people do not change their views from argument, but rather from community. Some interesting lessons there.