Watched Slumdog Millionaire for the first time this evening. Not sure why it took me so long to see it, really enjoyed it. 🎬

My Secret Battle – a Grief Shared ›

This week I can across the blog is Simon Thomas. He’s a Sky Sports presenter and a Christian, known by many in the U.K. He lost his wife to cancer in September last year and has been blogging about his grief. This week he shared a post about his Secret Battle with depression and anxiety.

It’s a very honest and open account of the battle he has, and still is, facing. I have a great admiration for anyone who is able to post so publicly about their battle with mental health. I have attempted to write many times about my own struggle with depression, it is not an easy thing to do. I’m thankful that Simon has a strong faith in God that is helping him through this time. My own faith helped me in my darkest time, and I have witnessed the faith of others close to me help them. I am forever thankful for this.

From my walk to work yesterday morning, an absolutely stunning sunrise.

My walk to work this morning was in day light. My walk home from work this evening was in day light. It’s amazing the effect this has had on my mood today. It actually felt like there was still some of the day left when I got home.

📚 Red Rising (Red Rising Saga, #1)

Author: Pierce Brown
Published: 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆
Finished on: 10/02/2018

At the start of the year I needed a new fiction series to read, and I’d seen this one recommended on a few sites so I decided to give it a go. I quite enjoyed it, the story was entertaining and I found myself engaging with the characters well. What I liked about this book was the mixture of settings that allows the reader to put their imagination to work building these different environments. It provided a good way of shutting my brain down at the end of the day. What’s most telling is that I’ve made a start on the second book in the series, that’s usually a good sign that I enjoyed the first.

Not sure why I’ve never looked into using svg files for logo’s on websites until today. They look so good on retina displays and more economical than multiple image sizes.

Siri has stopped working with third party apps for tasks, it just keeps telling me I need to continue in the app. Driving me mad.

Starting to feel the value in my recent Sunday night routine, emptying inboxes, last bits of tidying up around the flat and then planning my week out. It makes a real difference to my productivity and focus on a Monday morning.

I’m not sure if it was a good idea or not, but I found an old backup database of my very first blog and have now imported all the posts to my site. It’s now a complete archive of my ramblings going back to August 2005 when I first started.

An early spring clean

As I’ve been posting here more and more recently, I’ve spotted a few things about the site which I’m not happy with. One of the biggest issues has been around how I sort posts and all the meta data that is related to them.

For the last few years I’ve used WordPress’ built in Post Formats to organise the type of content I post here. They’ve allowed me to display content in different ways for each type of post I make. Alongside the Post Formats I’ve been making use of categories, each post got categorised with a category that corresponded to the type of post it was. This week I realised how redundant those categories are. Essentially I’ve been adding the same information to a post in two different ways, consequently posts have not had much context in terms of what they are about or how to find similar posts.

This morning I’ve spent a bit of time changing that. Posts are now categorised in wider subject areas and contain many different types of posts. I plan to surface the Post Formats information when I redesign the blog to have a design unique to me and that doesn’t make use of one of the standard themes.

One consequence of the re-categorisation of posts is that it’s surface how woefully I’ve been tagging posts. Currently I have 337 tags across 686 posts. That’s a lot of tags, but even with just a cursory look over the tag list shows I’ve got many variations on the same word. One of my next, and probably most tedious tasks, will be to sort out and clean up my tag list so that they provide better granular categorisation.

It should provide a more useful hierarchy of meta data to the site, Post Format (type of post) \> Category (wider subject) \> Tags (smaller subject information). Hopefully it means I’ll be able to find my own posts better, WordPress’ recommended posts might actually be useful and return to the site, and readers will be able to find more posts related to the one they’re reading.

Looking forward to a relaxing day watching sport. First the North London derby and then England v Wales in the Six Nations. ⚽️🏉

Quantity not quality

There’s an odd pressure when you’re trying to exercise the muscle of discipline, it’s tempting to want everything you do as a part of that to be the best that it can be. Sometimes you need to just push through and exercise that muscle. When you’re starting out, quantity is often more important than quality. You need to get used to doing something regularly before you can focus on doing it better, otherwise the fear of not good enough can hold you back and prevent you from making the progress you want to make.

Decided I’m going to spend a bit of time working on a new design for my blog this weekend. Time to restructure some things and, since I’m posting more often, have a design that’s more reflective of me and my design tastes.

Bonobo – The North Borders ›

This year, thanks to the new coffee house I work in part time, I’ve been listening to a lot of Bonobo’s music. I’d come across his music a few years ago, but for some reason never really listened much. Anyway, I’ve been enjoying it so much I thought it only right to share a link to his fifth studio album The North Borders. If you like melodic, layered, electronic music give it a listen.

The Crossway ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible ›

I’ve never read a review of a Bible before, so when Joshua Ginter mentioned he would be posting one recently my interest was piqued. This week I finally got round to reading his review of the Crossway ESV Heirloom Single Column Legacy Bible. It’s not just a really interesting read, it’s also a beautiful visual essay as well. I’m a big fan of Joshua’s photographic reviews, and this one certainly does the new ESV Heirloom justice. Hopefully one day I’ll be in the market for Bible like this.

Habits of Grace

After my posts and thinking about discipline last week, on Sunday I decided to order Habits of Grace by David Mathis. It arrived yesterday and the study guide that goes with it is set to arrive either tomorrow or Friday.

It’s a book that’s been on my radar for a while both for it’s subject matter, and if I’m being honest, it’s design. I’ve resisted buying it in the past because I’m aware I already have a large pile of books to I’ve yet to read, but having spent some time in prayer, reading, and thinking around this subject I decided it was time to get my finger out and order it.

I’m looking forward to diving in over the next month, all to often it’s easy to start grinding things like discipline in terms of hobbies and passions. As a Christian grounding the desire for discipline and self control in God and my faith is of far greater importance. Doing that is far easier to say than it is to do, and so I’m hoping that this book, along with building momentum by writing here on my blog will help that muscle of discipline grow into more areas of my life.

I just discovered that WhatsApp can do bold and italic text with some basic Markdown syntax. Who knew!

Book Budget

I just added a new category in my YNAB Budget under Quality of Life Goals, it’s name? Books.

Since I started using Goodreads in 2013 I’ve read 104 books. That’s an average of just under 21 books a year with a low of 17 in 2013 and a high of 34 books in 2016.

Clearly I like to read, so it made sense to actually budget for these books financially since I’m already making time in my life to read them. There’s something very different about sitting down and relaxing with a good book compared to a film or boxset that I enjoy a great deal. Most of these books are fiction, I find they provide me with a good way of shutting my mind off at the end of the day by forcing me to use my imagination. I have to let my mind create the images that go with the words, converting the writers descriptions into visuals in my mind. The words on the page acting as the brush and my mind as the paint to create the large landscapes and cityscapes as well as the detail of the characters faces and the expressions they pull.

Until a few years ago I had gone a few years without reading a lot, I always had a novel on the go but the number I would read in a year was much less. Gradually as I got older and remembered how much I like reading the number would increase, but the intensity at which I devoured books became greater after I became ill with depression a few years ago. Throughout my recovery, and when I find my mood dipping again, novels become a great source of escape. Usually I find concentration hard when I’m battling a low period, but a good novel (often a familiar one that I’ve read many times) is able to provide me with some escape. Reading the prose of a good fantasy or sci-fi book allows me to find freedom from the circular thoughts and spirals of whatever I find myself fixating on. As a visual thinker letting my imagination build the worlds centuries away from today (in either direction) is a great way of exercising my creative muscles and preventing those unhelpful thought patterns take hold.

Whenever I’ve spoken to friends who have been struggling with similar mental health issues, I always recommend they read. It takes a bit of effort to start, but I’ve found it much more helpful than watching a film. The act of watching images develop on a screen is far less distracting than having to engage your mind with the words and story of a book. Reading, I find, is a form of active rest. I can let my body rest and recharge, while using my mind in a way that’s different from the work of my two jobs, and in so doing letting it refresh and recharge.

So here’s to books, to my new book budget, and to the many more hours of rest that they will provide.