Monthnotes: June 2024

June was a packed but tiring month. It started with the EMF Camp festival, included a visit to Blackpool, a holiday in Wales and many visitors. I came to the end of it worn out, not helped by poor sleep and hurting my back.

I think this is my favourite photo I’ve taken

Going to EMF Camp with Emma was great fun. I was a little shocked on arrival to learn that my talk was in the largest venue. I’m not sure how many people attended, but I had a decent audience in a 1,000-seat venue. I didn’t disgrace myself, and had some lovely conversations afterwards. The festival was a little overwhelming – it was my first since the pandemic started. I enjoyed catching up with a few old friends, including a visit to ‘the Brighton consultate’. EMF Camp 2024 will be remembered for an ‘orphan source’ incident, where some radioactive materials went missing onsite (now listed on wikipedia).

We had a full house to celebrate my birthday, which was lovely. The day itself was spent in Wales at a week-long gathering of about 30 people, with communal meals, estuary swimming and a Midsummer Ceilidh where everyone (including me) made monster masks. I got a carried away when one of the dances was announced as a competition to see who could dance longest, summoning my best inner-Florence-Pugh, but my partner and I came third.

My walking continues to be a maintenance dose, with a total of 372,184 steps, an average of 12,406. My longest day was my birthday, where I managed a total of 22,115 steps. I started a ‘transformation course’ at a local gym, figuring that I needed a short, sharp shock to help me back to fitness. The first cardio session destroyed me, and showed that my body is not as strong as I would like, given that it took over a week to recover.

I’m feeling a little funny about my writing. I’m approaching a full year of running the weekly substack. I’ve enjoyed it, but I also question the amount of energy that I put into my writing. What do I actually want from it? Part of this is wanting to try new forms as I feel I’m at the limit of what interests me about the things I’m currently writing. I tried a few experiments with Mastodon but they didn’t feel right. And an attempt to work on a new zine in Wales frustratingly came to nothing. But, I guess, the answer lies in writing more than thinking about writing. Stop doing the things that I’m not enjoying, focus on the ones that I do.

I do miss performing. I did a very small spoken word set on a staircase in Wales, where Rosy also performed some of her new poetry. I read five stories in three minutes. I can’t see any way to do this more often, other than crashing open mics – or doing the dreaded one man show. Or maybe this is connected to my frustrations with writing, and I need to think about how I can get more direct response for my work.

Work continues to be challenging, mostly in postive ways; I enjoy being a consultant rather than simply a programmer. We had a ‘miniconf’ at work during June, where I did a talk on computer-generated novels (another performance!) which seemed to go well. Our team had an in-person day in Leeds, and it was great to see my colleagues in real life. I ended the month with a trip to the JManc Unconference, which has me resolving to spend more time programming for fun.

The election started out dull and seems to have gone on too long – but the massive failure of Sunak to run a campaign has been amusing. I’ve already decided I won’t vote Labour due to their stance on nuclear weapons. But, given the polling for my constituency, that’s not a difficult decision, since the Tory candidate is unlikely to win. While a Labour victory seems assured, the national mood seems a long way from 1997. Britain feels tired out, and it looks like we’re a long way from anything improving.

Reading continues to be slow. I’ve still not finished Annie Jacobsen’s nuclear war book since I can manage only a small section at a time. RF Kuang’s Yellowface was an entertaining and dark satire. It was very much a book about writing, and contained some interesting reminders of how aiming for ‘success’ can leach away the joy that gets people into writing. Hanna Bervoets’s We Had to Remove this Post was a wonderful and disturbing novella about content moderation.

No new movies have blown me away this month, and the latest season of Dr Who underlined the usual rule that it works better with intimate dramas than the fate of the universe. The best film I saw was a rewatch of Three Kings, which I gave 5 stars.

My best friend’s daughter invited us to come with her and some friends to see Bikini Kill. Watching the band onstage, I realised how much Olympia punk had inspired me and what it has meant to me. After so many years in corporate life I’m hardly punk myself, but I’m still inspired by that passion.

I wrote a little last month about the joys of personal archives, like digital photo albums or these monthnotes. There was a great article in the New Yorker by David Owen, How to Live Forever, which looks at how such things unlock memories. He quotes Marilu Henner “By really exploring your past, or remembering it in some way, you get a piece of your life back. Your life becomes longer and richer, and kind of stretches in the middle.” I’m into the fifth year of these monthnotes, and they are already valuable for that, particularly with the mushiness of pandemic memories.

Life comes in ebbs and flows and June has been intense. I’ve also been overwhelmed with to-do lists, and worry that they’ve distracted me from what I actually want and enjoy. Something to focus on in the coming month.

  • The release for the Indelicates’ new album Avenue QAnon comes closer with the new single, 4CHAN (THERE’S SOMETHING GOING DOWN ON /POL/).
  • I’m delighted to see Chapelle Roan blowing up. I’ve been listening to her on Spotify for a while but it’s great to hear people being excited about her in the real world.
  • I’m increasingly frustrated with people on trains listening to music without headphones. Someone on Mastodon blamed this on the loss of headphone jacks.
  • I tried to get into Tiktok, but the magic algorithm doesn’t seem as wonderfl as promised, showing me mostly rollercoasters and footage of musician Flora Algera.
  • I loved listening to musician Buttress appearing on the Women Talking About Their Lives podcast.
  • Another good podcast episode was Why Didn’t Chris and Dan get into Berghain? on Search Engine, which went off in some interesting directions.
  • In Wales, someone did a close card-magic show and my mind is still blown from that.
  • I forgot about the video where Mike Skinner from the Streets talks about Peter Mandelson’s comeback.
Muffy found me a copy of the Godzilla children’s book for my birthday!
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