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Symbolic Forest

A homage to loading screens.

About Me

This is me, as of 2020. This site has been going for about fifteen years now, albeit not quite continuously, and I’m naturally quite a different person now to when I started writing it. In fact, it’s hard to think of things that haven’t changed since then.

As thing stand, I’m living in Bristol, with my partner and two children, The Child Who Likes Animals and The Child Who Likes Fairies. Order not specific; they were born within about a minute of each other. For work, I’m a software developer.

I’ve not really followed a standard career trajectory, if such a thing actually exists. Back when I first started posting on here, I was in a junior IT-minion kind of job, in a slightly bizarre tiny family-run company which went into any different field of business that appealed to the owners’ whims and where every member of senior management seemed to have their own secret or eccentricity. I shared an office with a guy called Big Dave, a tiny airless room which wasn’t so much an office as a storeroom that happened to have a couple of desks in. Calling it windowless wouldn’t quite be fair, but it didn’t have any sort of natural light; the one window was into a large, mostly-empty warehouse. Every few minutes the flashing light of a fork-lift truck would scroll past the window, usually accompanied by the voice of our fork-lift driver training operative shouting “Stop… stop… STOP!” and I would sit and idly speculate on the chances of Big Dave coming to a grisly end impaled on the tines of a fork-lift coming accidentally through the wall. Some of the things that happened in those dates are posted on here in the category “The Old Office“, but there’s a lot of bizarre things that happened there that I still might write about one day.

Whilst I was there, in between rotating the backup tapes and pressing people’s Num Lock keys for them, I learned how to look after databases, do some slightly hairy migrations, and develop little internal pieces of software to make everyone’s lives easier. After we moved down to Bristol, I found myself a job looking after the IT of a slightly saner small company, developing slightly bigger internal tools, and answering questions like “why are you insisting on using a support ticketing system when people can just come and ask you questions at your desk if they want to?” Slowly, my career bootstrapped itself. Now, I’m a lead developer, and although it says “.NET” at the top of my CV I’m happy to pick up just about anything and start hacking away at it. I don’t have any amusing anecdotes to recount about work any more, unless you count odd little things like why Microsoft have an enormous sword on the wall behind their reception desk, but I can sometimes share my technical knowledge. The Mother, of course, still doesn’t think it’s a real job.

Aside from work, I spend a fair amount of time playing with trains. Every few weeks, normally, I head off for the day or the weekend to play with steam trains in various parts of the country. Sometimes I climb on top of them to polish the brasswork and shine up the paint; more often, I work turns as a signalman (or signaller), which mostly involves sitting in an armchair, lighting the fire if it’s cold, and telling the trains what they can do via the medium of pulling large, heavy levers.

Once upon a time, I read something about how to run a successful blog. Pick a theme. Pick a schedule. Post regularly, stick to your scheme and stick to your schedule, post interesting worthwhile content, and visitors will come. I think all of those rules, basically, have been broken by me at one point or another, and probably will be again. Originally I intended to post something every day, but that hardly lasted (and a lot of the posts from the period I was trying to have since been deleted, because they were pointless filler). The Gardenblog is specifically for my inept attempts at gardening, or just nice photos of plants; but the main blog is really just an outlet for me to write about whatever is on my mind. I also occasionally write technical blogposts for my employer’s blog, when I have the time to, but they’re usually quite in-depth and probably not suitable for a site like this which consists primarily of random meanderings.

I did attempt to give this site a mascot, when it first started. It’s called a gruntlebeast, and it looks like this.

A gruntlebeast

They’re largely invisible, and also pale green, and are named after their favourite food. If you find yourself suddenly disgruntled, apparently for no reason, it may well be because a gruntlebeast has invisibly sneaked up to you, stolen all your gruntles and eaten them. If you hear their hunting cry, “Arrg kxrrt!” then beware. Someone did ask me once if the design of the gruntlebeast was inspired by Daniel Johnston’s frog, but it wasn’t any sort of conscious inspiration. Nowadays, The Plain People Of The Internet are also liable to pop up and interrupt me, in the style of one of Myles na gCopaleen‘s newspaper columns, should I start to digress too much or mention a topic they particularly like.

If you ever feel the need to talk about me, my regular pronouns are he/him. If you ever feel the need to talk to me, my contact details are over there in the sidebar —>