Portrait of a Lady on Fire

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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 my mind.

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Re-mapping my keyboard and re-wiring my brain

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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.

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The joy of the usual route

There’s a kind of quiet joy to be had in walking the same route every day, even when it is forced on you. My daily walk takes me on a roughly 2 mile route, the middle part of which is a circuit around our scrubby local ‘nature reserve’. The sweeping, majestic plains of the Serengeti it is not. It’s a strip of land on either side of a small stream, circled on all sides by housing estates. But it does have wild flowers and some mature trees, and — as all I’ve had in the way of nature during lockdown — I have come to love it.

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Building a Raspberry Pi Roon end-point

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I learned recently that you can turn a Raspberry Pi into a networked DAC which can act as a Roon endpoint. I’ve always wanted to play with a Raspberry Pi so it seemed an ideal easy project to try it out, and also to replace the ageing Squeezebox player which I currently use as a Roon endpoint. I ordered all the bits and put it together on Sunday — it was fun and successful (the best kind of project)!

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Extending org-roam

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I was in the middle of the activity I’m about to describe below and listening to the BBC Radio 4 programme A History of the World in 100 Objects about the Olduvai stone chopping tool when I heard something that made me smile. Neil MacGregor said something to the effect that one of the defining features of humans is that we make things more complicated than they need to be. Busted!

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Making things in isolation

sewing life View comments

Well. I don’t want to dwell, but I can’t avoid the elephant in the room. This wasn’t — to put it simply — the 50th birthday I would have imagined only a few weeks ago. I’ve had Happy Birthday sung to me on a WhatsApp voice recording, lots of lovely messages and phone calls from friends and family, and I’ve had the fun of finishing sewing this chunk of riotous colour: a Granville shirt by Sewaholic.

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DEVONthink Pro 3

I have been a DEVONthink user for a long time. I’m not sure exactly when I started using it, but my records suggest that it was at least as far back as 2006. For many years, it held all my documents, notes, links, manuals, receipts and other random snippets. However, at some point, I needed to sync at least some of my databases between computers and to my phone for mobile use. The early iterations of syncing were a bit clunky and eventually I threw in the towel and looked around for something else. I told myself that I didn’t need all the bells and whistles of DEVONthink, and that anything into which I could throw my documents and which would sync them quickly and reliably would do the job. For a while, I used KeepIt (formerly, Together) which is a great and easy to use application, but (for whatever reason) I didn’t add items to it very often, and was increasingly finding myself in a situation where I couldn’t remember where I had put that snippet of information I needed. To cut a long story short, I’m back with DEVONthink Pro 3, and couldn’t be happier about it.

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Further adventures in org-mode

Emacs is really the gift that keeps giving. It has now been about 4 months since I started using org-mode to manage all my todos, and it has been working terrifically well for me. Despite having lots of different projects to juggle at the moment, I continue to feel more or less on top of things — or at least, I know how much stuff I haven’t been able to get to yet! The best thing about Emacs and org-mode is that you can expand and develop your system as your needs change. You don’t need to set up a complex system at the start, nor do you need to make the whole system complex if only one part of it needs extra structure. It’s all very flexible. I’ve made a couple of tweaks recently, and also started adapting my system of keeping notes which I thought might be interesting for other Emacs users and the Emacs-curious.

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Tweed waistcoat

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A while ago, I bought a length of lovely charcoal herringbone wool tweed fabric from ClothSpot. At the time, I was vaguely thinking about making the longer version of the Arielle Skirt by Tilly and the Buttons, which I have already made successfully in denim. As I thought more about it, I reflected that I am not really a tweed skirt kinda gal, at least not in a sober colour like grey. I have long harboured an ambition to make something a bit unexpected like a biker jacket out of one of the very vibrant colours of Harris tweed, but this was not that occasion. Eventually I settled on making a proper tweed waistcoat.

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