I was thinking the other day that I am incredibly grateful that past me (back in
September last year, which seems about a decade ago) decided to take the plunge
and buy a proper sit-stand desk. Like many people, I’ve been basically living at
this desk for six months (though I’m very lucky to be able to work from
home), so it has been fantastic to have a good, ergonomic setup which allows me
to change position throughout the day. It doesn’t make endless Zoom meetings any
more bearable, but my body does thank me at the end of the day.
I’ve made a couple more tweaks recently to improve things further: I’ve added a
home-made desk shelf and a felt/cork keyboard mat.
Apparently — to quote The Byrds — ‘to everything there is a season, turn,
turn, turn’. Despite what I have written, I’ve gone back to Doom’s evil (i.e.
vim) bindings. As I thought about it more I realised that it made more sense to
go with the grain in Doom. Doom works perfectly fine with plain Emacs bindings
(if you tweak a little), but it is designed around evil-bindings, so you are
missing out on some well thought-out aspects of the configuration. You can, of
course, still use plain Emacs bindings in insert mode (which is often quite
useful), and you can switch to Emacs mode temporarily by using the binding C-z.
The two systems co-exist quite peacefully, so it is easy to use whatever
seems best in context. I have, for example, continued to use isearch rather than
vim-style search because I have found that I prefer it for simple searches.
However, for search and replace, I prefer the vim :%s/foo/bar/ command. That’s
no problem in Doom, and you can use either whenever you want.
A while ago I came across a link to a new CSS framework called Tailwind CSS.
What I read intrigued me. I’ve used a number of different frameworks to style
this site, including (most recently) Skeleton and also the Bourbon Sass toolset.
The tools certainly made styling the site how I wanted and also making it behave
nicely on different screen sizes easier than plain old CSS, but I still came up
against frustrating problems that I found hard to fix because I don’t understand
CSS in enough depth. Tailwind looked interesting, so I decided to give it a
whirl. When I redesigned my photography site, I used another framework
(Tachyons) with a similar rationale to Tailwind, but I like Tailwind much
Remember when I wrote about switching to the BEAKL15 layout, and an anonymous
commenter said that it would wreck my ability to type on a QWERTY layout
keyboard when I needed to do that? Well, it happened. The better I got at the
new layout, the worse I got at QWERTY. It got to the point where — if I needed
to just hop on my laptop keyboard for a moment — I was single-finger typing,
and having to hunt around for every letter. I’ve reluctantly reverted back to
In these times, I think we all tend to find comfort where we can. We certainly
haven’t run out of new things to watch, but Mr Bsag and I have both taken
comfort in re-watching some high quality series again. I don’t know whether it
is significant that both happen to be set in earlier periods (late 1950s to 1970s)
— perhaps that distance in time helps to immerse us in the fiction and
disconnect us temporarily from the present, I don’t know.
The two series we are working our way through again are Endeavour (the prequel
to Inspector Morse), and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel which is a comedy-drama about
a Jewish-American housewife who gets into stand-up comedy. Technically, Mr Bsag is
watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (or TMMM as I’ll call it for brevity) for the
first time as he only saw bits when I watched it the first time, but got drawn
into it. Both series are superb, and are a rewarding re-watch for different
reasons. I’ve also found myself newly drawn to some of the peripheral characters
in both series.
One of the delightful and surprising things about Emacs, as you get to know it
better, is the depth of customisation which is available. Emacs can be a
completely different editor for different people and for different purposes.
Being able to tweak things on the fly and try them out before you commit to
them, or even as a temporary fix to solve the particular problem you have right
now, is empowering. The more you delve into it and try things out,
the better you understand what is possible and the more comfortable you get with
writing elisp. Recently I discovered the ‘advice’ system in Emacs, and now every
problem looks like a situation for some well-placed advice!
I’ve never been an enthusiastic exerciser, at least not exercising for the
sake of it. I’ve always enjoyed walking and cycling, but as a beneficial
by-product of going somewhere interesting and enjoying the outdoors. Apart from
a brief period of running while I was at Oxford, and practising Tae Kwon Do in
my teens, I have never really done an organised exercise program. That wasn’t
too much of a problem while I could be active as part of my normal day, but
during lockdown, that outlet mostly disappeared. In truth, I had already started
to realise that as I was getting older, I needed to get serious about doing more
weight-bearing exercises to prevent my muscles from wasting away. Predictably,
my plans to do something about that always started tomorrow.
I haven’t sewn as much as I thought I might during lockdown — partly because
I’ve been busier with work than I expected — but what I have sewn has been a
joy and something to be savoured. This weekend I finished making a second pair
of Persephone Sailor Pants, this time using some lovely linen mix fabric from
I look at you and see My life that might have been Your face just ghostly in the smoke They’re setting fire to the cornfields As you’re taking me home The smell of burning fields Will now mean you and here
Ooh, the thrill and the hurting The thrill and the hurting I know that this will never be mine
I want you as the dream Not the reality
— ‘Never Be Mine’ by Kate Bush
Great works of art (of all kinds) have a tendency to make you think, and to
encourage your mind to make connections which you might not have thought about
before. Yesterday I watched Portrait of a Lady on Fire and absolutely loved it.
I can’t stop thinking about it and it has made all sorts of interesting links in
I don’t really know what I was thinking. It’s just that sometimes I get an
idea in my head and I run with it. I’m pretty sure that it is going to
be a good thing (or a very good thing) in the long run, but it has challenged my
poor old brain a good deal, I can tell you.
It started when I got one of the regular newsletters from ErgoDox, the makers of
my keyboard. They were featuring a ‘layout of the month’ produced by Graeme
Geldenhuys which used the BEAKL15 keyboard layout. I was intrigued. Typing has
felt much more comfortable since I got the ErgoDox, but there’s still plenty of
room for improvement as QWERTY still involves awkward reaches and an unbalanced
workload between the hands. Since I could just download and tweak Graeme’s layout to
try it, there was no reason not to, and so it began.