About week 1644: Back to work

The first week back at work after prolonged time off (in my case three glorious weeks) isn’t the easiest. One of the benefits of having time off is being able to relax and wind down and view your life from afar. The downside is that you reset your rhythm twice: once when the holiday begins and you don’t have to get up before anything good happens – and then once again when you have to wake up early again. So I won’t say it was the easiest of starts, especially when my normal rhythm (my 4-day-work-week with a day off on Wednesday was disrupted due to other nice engagements), but by Friday I found somewhat of a rhythm again. Though I look forward to the time when there’s something resembling daylight when the alarm goes off…

Doggo

This weekend I got to hang out with Pablo, the cute dog that barks loudly sometimes. He’s nice and cuddly most of the time though, and he has nice eyes. But sometimes he barks really loud. When I was a child I was a bit afraid of dogs, so I’ve come a long way to sort of befriend an animal creature like this. But I still can’t get used to the (loud) barking. I remember going to see the first Lord of the Rings movie way back in the cinema. In the first half of the movie there’s a scene that made me jump up to such an extent that the whole row noticed in because their seats moved too… It didn’t have anything to do with orcs or Sauron. It was a barking dog that made me jump…

Watch

  • I completely forgot to mention I saw Spider-Man: Into the Multiverse in London. It was absolutely glorious, poking fun at the many Spider-Man origin stories we’ve seen in cinema (and comic books) in the past decades, but also paying homage to different art styles and comic books in general. I don’t remember when I last saw an animated film that felt so fresh and unique. Whole-heartedly recommended, even if you feel like you saw one or two too many super hero films in recent years.
  • My girlfriend made an animation (with her friend) which is available for your viewing pleasure here. I did some funny / weird voices for the philosophers. It’s in Dutch, mind you, so you might not be able to make sense of it. But it looks good, right?
  • We finished the Netflix adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Saturday. I thought the ending was rather satisfying and the last season brought some real depth thematically. Enjoyed that a lot.

Read

Listen

  • Three albums I’m looking forward to: Rosie Carney’s Bare, plus the new Jessica Pratt and Cass McCombs albums. Yes I’m now on the Cass bandwagon.
  • Andy Shauf and his band made an album under the name Foxwarren. I’ve only just discovered it, but it sounds pretty good. Check it out.
  • A bit late, but I really enjoyed this Slate podcast about Christmas no. 1 in the UK. Besides racing past some nice, awful, weird, wonderful songs that made Christmas No. 1 in the United Kingdom (or nearly made it!), it tells some nice tales about how some of these songs came to pass. One of the songs included came to because of snarky comment by a mother… I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

Cook

  • This recipe of sweet potato, spinach en lentil dhal worked out pretty well. Obviously we used way more garlic than the measly single clove mentioned in the recipe and I may have gone a bit overboard with the turmeric. But hey, it tasted good. Also I have no clue where to get Thai Basil here. So we changed it to parsley. Not the same I know, but that leaves something to be discovered the next time we eat it.

Journal

  • I picked up bullet journalling again this week. I fell of the wagon last Autumn, and initially didn’t think I would start again, but then, suddenly, I did. So, yea, hopefully these notes will benefit from it.

About week 1641: video games, London, Christmas run-up

Video games

Consuming entertainment as an aspiring creator of one, isn’t ideal. While it’s perfectly fine to get inspired by reading, watching or listening, there’s sometimes a bit of guilt involved when it comes to life and things. Then again, sometimes it’s great to take a deep dive in something as immersive as a video game. This week I rediscovered The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Switch. I had clocked many hours in this game already in 2017, but never bothered to finish it, let alone play the DLC-content which I purchased too. It’s not that I didn’t want to finish it, I just felt like I had to make the most of the experience before definitively finishing it. This week I decided I should probably finish it already, otherwise I might never. And thus I did defeat the final boss and then dove straight into the DLC. Turns out the whole DLC thing is such a joy and an absorbing experience, that I spent a fair few afternoons this week strolling through Hyrule and its different areas. Great fun, but then again I had also sort of promised myself I’d work on some websites, finish a book I’ve been reading for most of the year and do some writing. So enough is enough, and here I am writing my second ever week notes to kick things off…

Christmas

Ah, Christmas. I regret to inform everyone reading here that I have no Christmas tree this year. I had a tiny mini small not that big a Christmas tree, that sadly perished in the Summer drought this year. I have some Christmas lights up though, so that’s something. We thought about getting a tree but it’s getting a bit late now, and while I will be home for Christmas, there’s a lot of plans coming to fruition that might not make the whole Christmas tree thing worth it this year.

London

Since I found some of the best friends I ever had in London back in 2005/2006, I’ve been visiting London almost every year, usually coinciding with a London show of my favourite band. But this year, while I did make a whirlwind visit to a southern part of the UK in October, I didn’t see my friends or my favourite city yet. Thankfully, right before the year is over, I’ll visit the London by ways of Gatwick (let’s hope no drone disturbances, then…), for New Year’s Eve and a couple of bonus days. No Turin Brakes gig planned however, though there is one happening in February. On a Saturday night. Ehm, I feel like it won’t be a year till the next London trip… We’ll see…

USA

I haven’t really written about my America trip yet. Even though there’s plenty of experiences to write about. I might find a way to do that sometime soon (but no promises). Here’s something.

Listen

  • Season 2 of Heavyweight obviously. I’ve been writing a longer blog about why this show is so great. But for now just go and listen to it.
  • Spotify has compiled a top 100 list of my most listened to music. Sadly it has been infected by my girlfriend’s musical taste, which is excellent but slightly different. She’s been stealing my Spotify quite a lot, but thankfully the top 10 still looks pretty “Stefan” to me:
    Turin Brakes – Lost in the Woods
    Villagers – A Trick Of The Light
    Flyte – Victoria Falls
    Mark Knopfler – Sailing to Philadelphia
    Sharon van Etten – The End of the World >> my gf used this as inspiration (here)
    To Kill A King – No More Love Songs
    Rhye – Open
    Andy Shauf – Early To The Party
    Roo Panes – Little Giant
    The War On Drugs – Pain
  • Oh should I post Christmas songs here?

Watch

  • I am currently watching the latest season of Bojack Horseman, which remains both depressing, funny, sad and poignant.
  • The gf and I just finished the bizarre but enjoyable Maniac and we are also enjoying the latest season of Doctor Who, which feels very different compared to the previous ones, but nice nevertheless.

Tech

  • As an iPad Pro 2017 user, I’m a big believer in using it as a productivity device, but the fact that Apple feels like it can get away with selling $900+ devices and being bent right out of the box. Well that is ridiculous.

About Week 1623

According to this website, I’m now in week 1623 of my life. Time to try out some weekly notes for a while. I need a way to reflect on my life. This is one attempt.

Houses / Cats
I’ve been living in Utrecht these past few weeks, in various houses, cat sitting for colleagues. In the first house I stayed in for almost three weeks. Which was quite long, but also nice because my daily commute was reduced to 15 minutes instead of something like 90. And in the heatwave that dominated the Summer so far, that was a great convenience. The cat I fed in the first house was nice but edgy. In this second house the cat is absolutely lovely. On top of all this catness, I also visited a friend on Wednesday night. She had just got a fresh new kitten (called Bella) and she was adorable and enthusiastic and playful.

Mood
The week has been a bit stressful, I guess. Counting down to the holidays comes with its own kind of stress. Finishing up things at work and knowing you won’t be able to deal with them for some time changes something in my brain. Combined with not enough sleep in the past few weeks (heatwave), let’s just say I’m happy when Friday is over and the weekend and my time off begins. After which I won’t be back at work till the second half of September.

Read
I’ve been struggling for months to focus on Haruki Murakami’s /1Q84/. Not that I don’t like it, I’m just distracted to easily by other things. I’m at 25% though. That’s something.

Listen
* Tom Speight – /Want You/. Tom has been writing enthusiastic folk pop for years now, and with his album on the way, this celebratory tune is more than welcome. If not for you, then at least for Tom himself, who was hospitalised earlier this year due to Crohn’s disease (for the second time, in fact, life’s a b*tch). Fresh out of hospital he wrote this song. I can’t wait for his album to be released.
* Iron & Wine – /Waves of Galveston/. This has been a favourite song of mine ever since hearing it live at Iron & Wine concerts. I’m glad it finally gets a release on the forthcoming EP /Weed Garden/.
* /Reply All 125: All My Pets/. What starts off as a light-hearted episode about YouTube videos, turns dark pretty quickly without being sensationalising any aspect of it. In the end it will leave you both unsatisfied and slightly alarmed. It’s nice when a podcast doesn’t throw everything in your face. I’ve decided to like his episode.
* Also listening to the new Death Cab for Cutie album (/Thank You For Today/). So far I’d describe it as Pleasant Melancholy. Stream it here.

Watch
* Me and the GF finished /Final Space/, a snarky science fiction animated comedy set in space. The action is over the top, and so are the jokes, but after the first few episodes, you get sucked into the vortex on Netflix. Make sure to watch every recap before each episode though, a lot of the fun comes from hearing Gary recount his own adventures that you’ve just watched. Chookity.
* /Better Call Saul/ is back (as well as Better Call Saul Insider, the great behind the scenes podcast). I’ve missed this show so much this year. It’s a show that inevitably gets darker as it goes on, and while there are still light-hearted moments, it more and more becomes a show about the human condition, shot brilliantly I might add. Good to have it back. It’s on Netflix in most countries outside the USA.

Tech
* Twitter did away with its old API things, which were driving some excellent Twitter apps. I’m a big Tweetbot fan, but I can only see it’s mostly appealing to hardcore Twitter users. The algorithm that Twitter uses to provide highlights to casual users (like myself, I must admit), is actually pretty decent. At least, what it shows is interesting. Admittedly I don’t know what I miss due to the algorithmic highlights. I do think it’s a mistake though, for Twitter to effectively destroy functionality in various apps. We’ll see what the future holds though. Twitter is struggling with lots of things (Alex Jones, spam and trolls, etc) and I wonder whether it can find a way forward. Then again, it’s not as if Facebook is doing that great right now.

Things I learned
* Cats love cheese, but apparently it’s too fat and salty for them. It’s like a big burger for humans: fine for every now and then but don’t eat too many of them.