Sweaty, consternated London


The last couple of days have been filled with various walking around, meeting with friends, and helping Arnaud with his new apartment. Monday I met up with George again, and we wandered around a bit, went to the British Museum, had a drink in Soho, and met Arnaud for dinner. It was very hot and humid out, and George had a couple of bags with him (as he was planning to change accommodation to another friend that night and leave for Amsterdam in the morning), so it made for a rather awkward stroll. It was really nice seeing George, but something a little sad for me about it as well, as he didn’t seem at ease in his skin. The awkwardness of the bags and heat and moving around seemed to hold up a mirror to his inner (or perceived by me, anyway) state. And the entire day was filled with little troubles for him, mostly due to a lack of planning for his big trip. So, for example his ticket to Amsterdam was more expensive than it needed to be because it wasn’t done in advance, his card was canceled by his bank because he didn’t call to tell them he would be out of the country, and we spent a fair part of our time together with him dealing with these various things and getting a bit frustrated. The evening ended on a better note as we ate outside in a nice Italian restaurant in Soho.

Yesterday, it was another sweaty mess out. I walked around a bit and took a few photos before meeting Arnaud in the evening for a trip to Ikea. Arnaud, as I have mentioned, just moved into a new flat and I have been trying to help out with various things like decalcifying taps, receiving workmen while Arnaud is at work, helping him pick tiles and fittings, taking measurements, etc. I feel like it is the least I can do as a good guest since I am staying so many days in his apartment, and besides he is my friend and I want to help in any way I can. With his kitchen, what started as a simple idea to replace the countertop has morphed into a possible full scale kitchen remodel, and so we thought it a good idea to go to Ikea yesterday to look at cabinets. There is no Ikea in central London however, and it was a rather bleak trip out to the place in Edmonton, with a wrong train and lots of walking past sub-urban wasteland. When we got there, Arnaud became a bit flummoxed by the possibilities and it seemed to really stress him out. We walked around and looked at the various options and tried to match it to the existing space, but not being sure of what one wants sort of gets in the way of making choices. I have to admit that I myself can only stand Ikea in doses and by the time we left I felt exhausted, despite the fact that we had made no decisions about anything. I could feel the exasperation coming from Arnaud as we left and I felt really bad about it, but there was nothing I could really say or do at that point to make him feel better alas.

Many dead ends


Today was one of those days when I worked very long and hard and accomplished nothing tangible. I have a site I am working on that is presenting some technical challenges, and I have gone down many design and programming dead ends today. As is often the case, many of these dead ends stem from decisions made to to try to speed up the process in the first place. For example, I decided to start this design using a free template as the basis, but it turned out that reverse engineering the decisions of the template designer and fixing some of his coding mistakes actually took longer than it would have to build the thing from scratch. Live and learn, I say. (But really, I am not sure I would have made another decision even knowing what I know now.)  And I am still without a design that works as it needs to. Sometimes the road to greater knowledge is full of rocks and potholes and wrong turns. And sometimes, you need to get away from something to be able to move forward on it.

I think I will take most of the day off tomorrow and start again on Thursday. Saying that makes me realize how happy I am to be a freelancer.