I love reading. I’ve been a voracious reader since I first learned to read, and while I sometimes lack the time to indulge my reading habit as much as I would like, I read at least a few pages of a book almost every day. I don’t really mind how I read. I love the experience of reading a paper book, but we don’t live in a large house, and as Mr. Bsag is as voracious a reader as I am (and also loathe to sell or give away books once he has read them), our shelves are seriously overflowing. For that reason, I have had a Kindle for many years, and use that for reading ‘standard’ books, in other words, ones without interesting illustrations or layout.
My Kindle was starting to struggle to hold a charge, and despite the fact that I have bought plenty of books in Amazon’s ecosystem, I really wanted to escape the grip of Amazon, and also start borrowing books from the library using Libby. After reading a lot of reviews, I bought a Kobo Libra 2. In short, I love it, and it has seriously boosted the amount of books I am reading.
In the way of holidays, it seems a lifetime ago now, but I have been thinking recently about the holiday we had in late August this year in the Sussex town of Lewes. We have visited Lewes many times now, but this year we stayed in an AirBnB place in an area that was relatively unfamiliar to us. I have been thinking about the place a lot since we got back home, and about what influences the atmosphere of a place.
It had to happen eventually, I suppose. Since the start of the Covid period, I had somehow escaped catching Covid. I may have been asymptomatic, but I was testing regularly and had nothing but negative tests. Then, about three weeks ago, Mr. Bsag came back from a trip to Brighton feeling unwell. He did a Covid test and was positive, and when I started to feel ill too, I also tested positive. I’m lucky that I had escaped it for so long, and luckier still that when I finally got it, I was protected from the worst by vaccination. However, I still cannot recommend catching Covid. I felt very unwell for a long time, and even now that I am over the worst, the fatigue and loss of my sense of smell is still bothering me. My friend has suffered from Long Covid for three years now, and so I have been very wary of trying to do too much too early in my recovery. Just as when I was trying to recover from chronic fatigue syndrome back in my mid-twenties, I have tried to balance rest and exercise, and listened carefully to what my body and mind needed.
I mention this because a rabbit hole I have been exploring while recovering has reminded me that everything interesting and difficult involves this same tightrope walk between effort and relaxation, control and letting things run free.
It started with a video that Bernadette Banner made about learning to spin flax on an antique spinning wheel. I have only recently discovered Bernadette Banner’s channel, but find her videos about hand sewing historically-accurate pirate shirts or tailoring a 19th Century lady Mob Boss suit completely absorbing. Anyway, in the spinning video, she consulted with another Youtuber JillianEve, who is a spinning expert, and before you could say ‘distaff’, I was off on a rabbit hole and learning about spinning yarn with a hand spindle.
I have always been reluctant to exercise for the sake of exercising. I’m always happy to walk outside to get somewhere, or just enjoy nature, and cycling to commute is fine too. But putting on special clothes and doing a ‘workout’ has always made me sigh deeply and want to do something — anything — else. However, I do understand that it’s good for me, and that it will make me feel better in the long run. I get enough cardio exercise from walking, but weight-bearing strength training (using weights or body-weight exercises) is particularly beneficial as you get older to slow muscle wasting and bone density loss.
During the first Covid lockdown, I started a habit of doing regular strength workouts from the Sweat app. I found that I enjoyed strength exercises more than other types, and enjoyed the process of getting gradually stronger. I got quite disciplined about it, all the time we were trapped inside, and for some months afterwards. Eventually I started to drift in my discipline, skipped sessions, and then got really sore or injured the next time I worked out. It wasn’t working any more and I needed to reset things.
As we walked up the steep footpath to the top of the hill (part of the South Downs range), there was a growing bundle of anxiety in my chest. This holiday was supposed to have been relaxing, restorative — a chance to let go of the stresses of the previous few months.
Now that I have settled in to using my Nine keyboard (see Part one and Part two), I have been thinking about small tweaks to the layout. I think that you need to use a layout for a reasonable amount of time before you figure out what really works and does not work for you. In my case, I wanted to rethink the one-shot aspects of the second alpha layer.
There are many things that I enjoy about both Emacs and Vim, and I have used both for extended periods. I remain resolutely neutral in the Editor Wars! Most recently, I have been an enthusiastic Emacs user. I used to use org-mode for planning and managing my tasks, but I moved back to Things for that a while ago for pragmatic reasons, and let Emacs deal with all my other plain text needs. However, I kept a very minimal Neovim setup in my Nix configuration that I would use for quick edits to files in iTerm.
Perhaps I’m on one of my periodic ‘minimalist’ adventures (which would seem to be borne out by my keyboard choice), but Emacs has recently felt a bit much to me, and made me curious about the current state of the art in Neovim.