Last week I forgot to mention that @bbcmicrobot has been a source of nostalgic pleasure since it came online a fortnight ago. I spent a lot of my childhood writing silly BASIC programs on a BBC Micro or Acorn Archimedes so it’s heartening to watch other people do it on Twitter in 2020.
Most impressive so far are Eben’s ludicrously ambitious glider gun in Base64-encoded 6502 machine code, and a well-timed Mandelbrot set; funniest are the Windows 3.1 logo and owl drawing instructions; and then there’s this which is a little bit disturbing.
I’m generally a terrible reader of fiction because once I put a book down I forget the plot threads and then can’t find the motivation to come back to it, which means I’m mostly limited to short stories on the rare occasions when I do choose to read for leisure. I feel pretty guilty about this because, well, you’re supposed to read novels aren’t you? I used to get through a lot of fiction as a kid but just haven’t been able to re-form the habit in adulthood, although I do read a lot of unrewarding rubbish on screens all day instead so that’s something at least.
However! This week I read The Fifth Season and enjoyed it very much. It builds a convincing world with enough mystery to keep me coming back, and the structure of the story is interesting without being distracting or confusing. More generally it’s been a while since I got properly absorbed in a story so this felt really good.
The last time I finished book one of a trilogy was when I read Annihilation a few years ago, but I lost interest during the more pedestrian Authority and never made it to the end. At the moment I feel motivated to continue with the rest of the Broken Earth trilogy so I’ve cracked open The Obelisk Gate and will see how I get on.
(The lie of omission here is that I’ve been jumping back and forth between the audiobook at the gym and the paperback at home, which has made it much easier to keep the details warm in my imagination. Is that cheating, or an acceptable life hack for the literarily challenged?)
Conversely, we finished watching The Witcher which I ultimately found quite annoying: after a strong start with decent production values and performances, it became undermined by pointlessly nonlinear storytelling. I don’t understand why they did this. Telling an intentionally disjointed story has a clear narrative purpose in, say, Westworld (or The Fifth Season!), but here it only made an already thin plot more tenuous and sucked away any momentum that might otherwise have built up.
There’s always the hope that they’ve got it out of their system in the first season and will calm down a bit next time, but after such a frustrating introduction I don’t know whether I care enough to find out.
I watch a lot of YouTube which means I sit through a lot of terrible mistargeted ads. I briefly considered a YouTube Premium subscription to make the ads go away, but it turns out that it costs £12 per month — double the cost of a basic Netflix plan. What.
My third attempt at making sourdough this week was as disappointing as the previous two despite using stronger flour: again it produced a very sticky dough that I didn’t have the skill or the patience to shape. In a conspicuous display of either pragmatism or petulance I’m going to take a break from breadmaking for a bit because it’s such a time-consuming process and I’m finding it too frustrating to be enjoyable.
(Update: I just baked and ate that gluey dough and it was still extremely delicious. Damn.)
The more you exercise, the easier exercise becomes.