The amaryllis started to fall over. The first stem (let’s call it Stem A) to rise bloomed very happily, but in an effort to make the second bloom (Stem B) as successful as the first, I was probably a bit zealous in watering and feeding it. (Floppiness is supposedly a symptom of waterlogging.) I staked Stem B and the foliage in place to stop it drooping further. Once I cut Stem A back, I adjusted the stake to make Stem B curve a little closer to the centre of the pot. I think it’s happy now. I did lose an unbloomed flower off Stem B in the process, but I can see three more waiting to bloom. The hyacinths I picked up just before Christmas are flowering too.

On the topic of plants, my spring bulbs on the balcony are coming up very early. The ominously warm winter to date maybe means we’re in for an early fireworks display. I was worried that they’d have trouble coming up through bedding plants, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem for them at all. Now we see if our mostly shady balcony gets enough incidental light for lots of flowers and lots of colour. If nothing else, it’s nice to look at now. I took the camera out and took a few arty close-ups.

We have COVID case in the house. He’s doing fine. I, meanwhile, have been sleeping on the sofa and testing daily and haven’t left the house except to exercise or to buy food/supplies, FFP2 masked all the time. I thought I’d got away with it, but felt a little grotty yesterday. 2 lateral flow tests both initially appeared negative—but well after the 30 minute validity period, a faint test line appeared on both. With these plus my sore throat and very mild cough, I took a PCR test to be safe—there seems to be no shortage in Newham and Waltham Forest—and, hilariously, got a ‘void’ (unreadable) result, so had to re-test today. I’m fully vaccinated and boosted, as is my partner, which at least means we’re unlikely to get seriously ill.

I’ve been trying to write something for my professional blog about the state of play with the metaverse, blockchains, and ‘web3’ (the web, but slower and everything is paid-for and environmentally ruinous.) It’s quite hard to nail down the point on exactly why it’s harmful, because the language is deliberately vague and obfuscatory and constantly shifting. I did enjoy this Gawker article from McMansion Hell’s Kate Wagner on the grimness of a virtual reality Walmart demo. I found this particularly hit me like a tonne of bricks:

The more I see from the Metaverse, the more I want to scream, "I live in the real world and I will die in it." I will not be coerced or persuaded by fake H&Ms and being a size two in the land of ones and zeros. I will not be seduced by maybe owning a digital house just because I've given up on buying a real one.

—Kate Wagner, Even Walmart Is Worse In The Metaverse

I made it to the Duolingo ‘diamond league’ finals. For context, I’m learning Turkish, German, and recently started on French again (having not formally ‘learned’ it since GCSE level.) I re-took my Mastery Quiz in German last week, and found my score jump from 45% to 80%—a tad suspect for three months. I reckon I just got very lucky with the run of questions. On a general note I’m pleasantly surprised at how much of my French from school has stuck around, and also surprised how much German I can understand after six and a half years at a Swiss-German company. I guess getting Was ist dein Lieblingsfach? from Hallo Aus Berlin as an earworm was probably a good thing. (The club remix is a banger.)

Weeknotes 2022.1