Vibe Check #4

Every year my brain tricks me. June, it says, June is summer. And every year around this time I get long daylight hours but seemingly endless wind, rain, and rarely-over-twenty temperatures. Some days have been beautiful, but many (like today) are unadventurous. I sit inside a cafe to write.

The weather can do as it pleases (despite what we tell it to). Summer is a state of mind. I love how far we are from the long nights and dismal days, I love waking up when it's light and getting into bed just after it goes dark. I love the promise of summer holidays to come, and the days still getting longer (though not for long). The days feel expansive and my brain feels like it can really settle into something.

This month I feel I've really progressed. I've spoken more French out loud in the last month than the year which proceeded it. I've made things with my sewing machine, things someone else would recognise as clothes. The spacecraft of code that keeps my employer's business afloat has had some cool maintenance work done, especially around some of the most unvarnished, exposed, edges. We're trying a new way of building the space ship.

While we're talking about code and craft, the fellows over at the Shop Talk podcast discussed a few metaphors which resonated with me:

  1. Comparing your team members and working styles to D&D classes (clerics, paladins, rogues). I like this metaphor because it reminds you that people contribute in different ways, and often in ways which complement each other. (Episode 493)
  2. Building software isn't like building the plane while it's flying. I think this metaphor is common because it's funny and dramatic, not because it's true. It's not how airlines do their repair and maintenance work, they do everything they can to keep planes in the air and on flight. Maintaining and improving production systems is a balancing act of keeping all the flights on time and in the air, while gradually improving the planes in the air. (Episode 516)

This month I've needed to slow down and focus so that I can enjoy the work. Normally I tell myself that so that I can do the work. Only one project at a time. Be present in the act of making. Write things down, even when you feel you don't have to.

Highlights from this month include

  • Intentionally writing with a lot of inks and pens (colours are cool)
  • Sewing my first successful, whole garment (a dark grey-blue t-shirt)
  • Seeing and hearing sky lark song
  • Taking a five-hour cycle with a friend across the Oxfordshire countryside (and only one puncture between two people)
  • Speaking French, out loud, weekly with a French person (who I pay to help me be better at French)
  • The debut meeting of The Ex-Housemates' Book Club, a mere eighteen months after inception, to drink wine and talk books with dear friends (who are, indeed, ex-housemates)
  • Eating the most amazing hake dish I've ever had, at a local restaurant by The Thames
  • Going back to the exact same restaurant two times in three weeks (see above)
  • Getting free ice cream after pushing the owner's car down a hill (her battery wouldn't start, it was helpful pushing)
  • Three bank holidays in a month, including a four day weekend, courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.


  • Caliban's War, by James S. A. Corey. Holy shit I love space ships now. Blasting through this one on Audio Book. At this rate, I'm going for the whole series.
  • Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco & Tim Lister. Building software as a team is hard, so I'm reading books other people have written about how they do it. I'm not far enough into this book to comment deeply, but so far it seems pretty sensible.
  • Somebody's Daughter, by Ashley C Ford. This is a book recommended by John Green (one of my favourite living humans). I love a good memoir, and Ford sure has a way to fit words and experiences into a narrative.
  • Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi. The book I read for book club. It made me google a lot of things I had no idea about, like the legal gymnastics the US went through to keep enslaved treated as property not individuals. Narratively, I wasn't taken or captured. It's told in a many-person-narrative style, which can make it hard to attach to any singular thing.