As the pandemic, or at least it's social effects, start to wind down (or certainly in the UK… or in Brighton 🤷‍♀), I thought it would be wise (for me) to write down what I got up to. I'd love to read any of your accounts too … if you even want to remember!

What I gained

Learned assembly - specifically the Z80 flavour. I've always been interested in assembly because it gets me closer to the "metal". I started with Spectrum Machine Language for Absolute Beginners (in actual book form) which I read every morning with coffee as the kids would start to prepare for their lockdown learning.

There's a distinct difference in problem solving between assembly and higher level languages (like JavaScript) - it made for some interesting puzzle solving and I can say it's definitely helped me think about how I code in JS. I successfully released a few projects in assembly, including a tool called http which is now part of the core Spectrum Next distribution.

Built a CPU - 🤔 okay, so built isn't quite right, but I enrolled in a course that had me learn how to use Hardware Description Language (HDL) to build up to a fully working emulated CPU.

Produced my first PCB - and sold every single one I printed and designed and 3D printed houses for these boards. It was part of my MIDI controller to PS/2 project. Hardware is certainly easier than the 10 year old version of Remy expected it to be

Whittled stuff - continuing on the hardware thread, I had been poking around a pen knife and some sticks so decided to get a small whittling knife set and found it's a massively relaxing (and addictive) process. I'm very much in love with the idea that a solid block of wood contains the shape of my idea hidden, and it's my task to reveal it. I took a week off in 2020 to carve a dog and I've made other bits since.

A damn pony tail - my hair has been growing for over 2 years now (I used to cut my own hair) and now, today, it's beyond my shoulders showing no sign of slowing down. I had long hair when I was 18, and as it grew during the lockdown period I figured I'd never have the chance to grow it long again so I might as well let it do it's own thing. My hair is also incredibly thick, the actual follicles

Now however, it's a full mane that refuses to stay out of my face so it's always pulled back. Turning my head in bed is a whole thing of throwing my hair like a mad Timotei advert - and I'm certain that my hair situation is pissing Julie off too! I really want to cut it all off (and probably donate to charity) - but the youngest keeps telling me not to, and who am I to deny her?

What I lost

Grand Papi - my grandfather on my french side died mid 2020 (completely unrelated to Covid). I wasn't close to him and he was always a stiff character, but it was my mum that I really felt for and my heart ached for. She couldn't visit him before he died and trying to travel to France at the height the pandemic was close to impossible.

Fitness - the whole gym going got nuked hard with lockdown closures. I'm not a runner so street jogging just didn't work for me, so I languished and completely lost all my gym habits. Now some 18 months later I've visited the gym perhaps a handful of times and thought of returning is an uphill battle.

My general diet hasn't been terrible, but certainly hasn't been as clean as it was when I was going to the gym, so my body has returned to it's default shape and general blobbiness, for which I am not thankful. I also strongly suspect a link of exercise to having a calming effect on my tinnitus - so I've got plenty of reasons to return, it's just making a brand new habit again.

My perspective - either I've become just old and grumpy or I've not been around actual people for so long that everything just seems to piss me off all the time. The news and social media seems to be chock full of things that make my skin crawl, and the more it happens the more I realise that I'm the problem and that I could really do with re-joining society...

There was lots of other bits and bobs throughout the last 18 months, but that's certainly some of the memorable big ones. Though, secretly I'm hoping I never have to write another "what I did last pandemic" post. I think once a lifetime is enough!