The body remembers in a hundred broken ways. Even those pictures in our heads we call memories are not unitary things: you build them afresh each time from your mess of neural pathways, wearing some grooves deeper and smoothing over others. Those memories may not agree with each other; may not agree with themselves; may not agree with the scars on your skin or the way the smell of spilled beer makes you feel or the tightness in your chest when a phone rings. Like everything we do on Earth, remembering is about who we are and not who we are. But the spirit remembers singly and truly. In truth it does not remember at all: it simply is, across time, all of us at every moment. When our bodies stop being, our spirits continue, and all that our bodies experienced is laid out for them like a map. There…
Building a children’s storybook reader
I made a Tonies/Yoto-style story reader and I promise I did it mainly for my son and not because I thought it would be fun.
Lessons learned from using PiMyLifeUp’s MFRC522 Python library with MiFare Ultralight NFC tags.
I bought All Day Long when it was published in 2015; I distinctly remember ordering it online with great enthusiasm following a recommendation from somewhere. As with all parcels, I waited impatiently for its arrival. I then put it on a shelf, where it sat patiently for eight years while I never quite felt in the mood to read it.
Sussudio apt-get install earworm
I’m constantly surprised by my brain’s ability to turn any detail of its environment into an earworm. Last night I had Nizlopi’s 2005 number one ‘JCB’ in my head and I’ve just realised it was because of this filename (the result of testing out the Raspberry Pi-based MIDI recorder I’m building for my wife’s piano on her performance of Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘Inizio’). Throughout the renovation of our house, I had ‘YMCA’ in my head. Eventually I spotted that this must be because of the Youngman-brand stepladder I was using. My belief that I have to much mental fortitude to fall for Derren Brown-style ‘power of suggestion’ conjuring lies in tatters.
The Long Take (Robin Robertson)
This is an unusual book that feels like it shouldn’t be unusual. A long poem or verse novel set in the post-WWII USA, The Long Take is accessible enough that I can easily imagine a world in which it kicked off a popular interest in its form. Perhaps if it had won the 2018 Booker, for which it was shortlisted, this wouldn’t feel like the kind of thing only bookish weirdos with English degrees read, novels-in-verse would be less of a rarity, and I wouldn’t have found this one in a remaindered book shop at a knock-down price.
The City and the City (China Miéville)
I’m always delighted to approach books (and other works) with as little knowledge about them as reasonably possible. (If you’re the same, and you haven’t read The City and the City, then please forgo reading this post, which contains conceptual spoilers if not plot ones.) This novel, which sat vaguely on my reading list for some time until I received it as a Christmas present, occupied a middle ground: I vaguely knew the central conceit of its setting, but nothing beyond that. How delightful, then, to discover that my understanding was wrong. I had The City and the City categorised as sci-fi; I thought its twin cities Besźel and Ul Qoma occupied the same physical space through some quirk of physics or magic. The novel doesn’t outright contradict this, but it certainly doesn’t require it: the two cities, and the skin between them, are seemingly constructed entirely in the minds…
My 2022 New Year’s Resolutions In Review
Last year, I asked one of the various large language model AIs that people were dicking around with to generate me a list of new year’s resolutions. The year is about to turn, so it’s time to see how I did. The list starts at 2, for some reason. 2. No more drinking I stopped drinking a few years ago, so this wasn’t much of a change, but I did toast with a few sips of champagne at a wedding. A fail, if we’re being picky. 4. Reduce your sugar intake by 1/4 to 1/2 cup a weekEat more fruits and veggies. That sounds like quite a lot of sugar? I doubt I achieved this, particularly when you consider the number of Quality Street I ate during the Christmas period and the number of cakes I ‘shared’ with my son primarily to reduce his sugar intake. I think I probably…
In our house, we each wrap up our right foot on Christmas Eve and unwrap it on Christmas morning. It’s odd, I know, but it’s because a few years ago my sister hurt her foot very badly. It was bandaged up for months, and she couldn’t walk on it. But on Christmas Day she unwrapped the bandage to change it, and she thought it looked well enough to leave the dressing off. She managed to get herself around on both her feet that year, and even to take a few steps out into the crisp winter air. She said it was the best present she ever got. So the next year we all wrapped our feet up, as a joke, but when we unwrapped them we felt genuinely grateful. For our bodies, for our health. We’ve kept it up ever since. 🧦 In our house, we wrap up our right…
How I Wonder
Lying on my son’s bed as he fell asleep, I couldn’t believe quite how much the glow-in-the-dark star stickers on his ceiling resembled the real thing. Even so close, they evade your focus as a real star does from inconceivable distance. As the fovea dances around them and the eye’s blind spot flicks across the imaginary sky, they even seem to twinkle. At the edge, where the landing light spilled through the crack between door and doorframe, there was the last hint of sunset. He snorted, fidgeted, turned around to me and asked: ‘Daddy, what happens if you have a boiled egg?’ I gazed into the infinite blackness between the stars and answered him as best I could, and we drifted together, reassured.