Personal opinions, experiences, and things that I liked or didn't like.
The week before Christmas last year, I went to a Christmas concert at St Paul’s Cathedral. Due to that I ended up in isolation over Christmas waiting for Covid test results, though I did eventually receive a negative. I wrote about it at the time, but never finished it. I thought it was an interesting comparison to when I actually caught Covid.
Well, it finally happened: Earlier this month I tested positive for Covid. It wasn’t a big surprise: Multiple family members had already tested positive, and I’d had a worsening sore throat and cough. But it was still something that made me think.
With Covid changing our lives in so many ways, perhaps it’s not surprising that it enters our dreams. I’ve certainly had some interesting dreams over the last two years: There have been public gatherings, coughing and sneezing, masks, injections - and even scarlet fever.
On this day last year, I did a daring thing: I actually got up to see a sunrise. Perhaps this doesn’t seem so daring to most of my readers, but it was something I hadn’t done for years, and it changed me more than I expected.
In 2020, Covid-induced work from home allowed me to see more sunsets than usual. In 2021, I added some sunrises to the mix (it turns out that, like sunsets, sunrises can be slightly addictive - though they’re still too early in the morning). So what better way to mark the transition to 2022 than watching the final sunset of 2021, and the first sunrise of 2022?
Ten years ago today, I was in India, in the final week of my final mission trip. It was my fifth trip, and my longest. I haven’t returned to the country since, though maybe one day I’ll go there as a tourist. Now, looking back on it, the whole endeavour just feels odd.
Five years ago today, I wrote a welcome post for this blog. The anniversary has crept up on me, but it still feels important to mark it somehow. It was something new that I wanted to try, but I didn’t (and couldn’t) know what running this blog would come to mean to me. It’s been an interesting ride, and sometimes a frustrating one, but I wouldn’t be without it.
This time last week, we were still in lockdown, with our curfew continuing to apply right up to midnight. We’d been told that we weren’t going to have a UK-style “Freedom Day” where all restrictions were ended at once - and we didn’t. But somehow the “70% fully vaccinated” target morphed into a moral obligation to the people of Victoria, and so we got a “Freedom Midnight”.
It was a big deal. A time to celebrate. It was supposed to be the end of lockdown. Not just the end of the lockdown Melbourne had been in since August, but the end of lockdowns in Victoria forever.
So how better to celebrate it than a moonlit walk?
Here in Melbourne, today is officially the last day of lockdown. With the highest total number of days in lockdown due to Covid, we’ve been declared the “lockdown capital” of the world. This has included six lockdowns, three short and three long.
Recently, as restrictions have eased slightly, I’ve been reflecting how lockdowns shrink my world, and how that then affects me when coming out of a lockdown. It can be a conscious effort to choose to go to places or do activities that I would have gone to and done without a second thought in 2019.
Six months ago, I wrote about a year of working from home. At the time, things were going well in Melbourne. Since our long lockdown we’d largely had the great summer we were promised. There had been a couple of scares, including a five-day lockdown, but most mask requirements were gone, we were able to have 100% capacity at the office, and were planning to return to full-time in mid-April.
Well, that lasted around six weeks, before lockdown #4 struck. There were a few opportunities to return to the office in June and July, but since mid-July it’s been back to working from home again.
So I wanted to talk about a (non-)typical week: Last week. A week in which I admired cygnets, saw deer, was chased by chickens, discovered a WikiLeaks bus, and even managed to get some work done.
A year ago today, while Melbourne was in lockdown, my grandfather died. With funerals capped at ten attendees I was only able to attend the funeral electronically, but it reminded me of times spent with him and how he had influenced my life.
A few years ago, I came across Typealyzer: a project to try and detect an author’s personality type from the text they wrote. It seems to be closed now, but at the time my blog was fairly new and I thought it would be fun to try.
Yesterday at lunch time I was out walking in my local area, and I saw some colourful autumn trees that I’d seen last year. In fact, I’d seen them on the day I first discovered my local bear hunt, shortly after transitioning to working from home for the first time ever. At the time our first lockdown was approaching, there was a lot of uncertainty, and I could never have guessed all the things that would happen over the next year.
Yesterday was also the day when my company announced plans to return to full-time office work within the next few weeks. And so, with that chapter coming to something of a close, I got to reflecting on a year past and all that I’d experienced and discovered and become.
Last week, I went to a concert for the first time in nearly a year. Indoors, no less, and with masks. And in 2019 that wouldn’t have been a significant event, but coming now it got me thinking about hope.
Near the end of March last year, as I was walking near my house, I saw a small, blue teddy bear hanging by a peg from a log. At the time I wasn’t to know it was part of the Bear Hunt movement, intended to entertain children with school closures and lockdown approaching. Nor did I know that I would end up visiting Bear Hunts in all weather and taking hundreds of photos of a wide variety of soft toys.
As I look back on the 2010s, I see a decade where I became increasingly independent: Moving out of the family home, working, travelling, making my own choices, owning my own ideas and values.
That independence then led me to places and ideas that I would never have expected at the start of the decade, even to independence from the religion that had once defined me.
I’m not sure that I saw a single sunrise in 2019. However, I tried to make up for it in sunsets, and wanted to share some of my favourite sunset photos.
It’s fair to say that 2020 hasn’t gone as I planned. And sometimes it’s tempting to just write it off and forget about it. But as the halfway mark slipped past, I started to consider what I really want to achieve this year and how I want to be able to remember it.
It is said that our Northern Hemisphere ancestors were familiar only with white swans. When they sat round the fire talking about the swans they had seen, there was no need to specify the colour: The mere concept of a black swan was absurd.
However, sometimes these things are a matter of perspective. I happen to come from a land Down Under where Christmas is in summer, where mothers hop around with their young in a pouch, where spiny mammals lay eggs, and where the swans are most distinctly black. And so it was many years before I first saw a white swan.
Covid-19 has completely changed our world, and we don’t know how long the disruptions will last or what will come next. When people talk about living during a “historic moment”, this is what they’re talking about.
So I wanted to record some of my personal impressions, starting from the time when the novel coronavirus felt like a distant problem affecting other people, not something which would change my life.
As I look back on the 2010s, I get a better perspective on how my deconversion worked and how much changed. Where my 2019 review will probably end up “2019 was a lot like 2018, but still different”, the difference for me between January 2010 and December 2019 is night and day.
At the start of the decade, I was preparing to speak at a Bible software development conference, and my commitment to my childhood religion was unquestioned by all, including me. By the end of the decade I had spent more than a third of it as a self-identified atheist, had started a blog where I wrote critically and at length about religion, was involved in several strongly anti-theistic communities, and was about as certain as I could be that I was never going back.
In October, I wrote about why I didn’t want to do NaBloPoMo. However, I also set a goal for November: To publish at least five blog posts, and if possible to complete a short story I first drafted in March.
In my previous post, I discussed a couple of childhood experiences that gave me a fear of volcanoes.
However, that changed in 2014 when I visited Yellowstone and the nearby Craters of the Moon: Suddenly, I discovered that volcanic action could be more beautiful than dangerous.
Have you ever been scared that a volcano might grow in your backyard?
As a child, I was - and I think that experience shows interesting things about childhood and about newsworthiness in general.
Another day, another weird but possibly catchy abbreviation. Earlier this week I wrote about NaNoWriMo, today it’s time to talk about the blogger response: NaBloPoMo!
With November approaching, this is the time of year I start to think about NaNoWriMo. Over the years I’ve had various family members and friends doing it, and some of them have told me I should too. However, I remain almost as hesitant this year as I have been in previous years.
Overall, 2018 was a good year for me. Some things have changed, while lots of things have stayed the same. There were frequent hikes, frequent online discussions of religion and culture, frequent quests for knowledge keeping me up to ridiculously late hours, and lots of music and reading.
I said at the start of 2018 I wanted to share more photos, and then didn’t. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of the nearly 10,000 photos I took.
I’ve spent most of my life in Australia, it is my home, and I’m proud of it. But there are many parts of it that I’ve never been to, and many iconic experiences that I’ve never had.
So the question becomes: How well do I need to know my country anyway?
2017 has been an interesting year, mostly continuing on with life changes I began after leaving religion and particularly after returning home from a long trip to the UK. I started a blog, did plenty of hiking, and continued to discover how well these two fit together. Compared to 2016, I’ve stayed much closer to home, but have still found plenty of boundaries to push.
Ten years ago today, our third year software engineering team did our final presentation. Since then, I have done many presentations with a variety of visual aids, but that presentation remains my favourite visual aid.
When I put my “tourist” hat on, I become a different person. Untied by work or family obligations, with personal life largely on hold, I am free to search out the best experiences. For others, a holiday may be relaxing - for me it is a full-time occupation (though sometimes relaxing too!)
When I return home, I resume normal life with its obligations, and also with the laziness that makes it much easier to sit in my house talking to my computer all weekend than getting out and doing something. This frustrates me, because I know there are plenty of fascinating places in Melbourne that I’ve never visited. I’m sure if I were a tourist I would spend more time seeking out those places.
A year ago, I returned from three months spent in the UK and Switzerland - long enough to make me pine for gum trees. When I got back, I made a commitment that I would try to bring a little more of that tourist spirit into my day-to-day life. It’s not the first time I’ve made that particular commitment, but this time I actually took steps to make it happen.
Well, it’s come to that point again: the arbitrary point at which we say an old year has finished, and a new year has begun. It’s neither the start of summer in the southern hemisphere, nor the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere. But it does get me a public holiday tomorrow as part of a full week break from work, so I guess I’m not complaining.
Every year is a new adventure and a step into the unknown. For me, though, 2016 was less of a step and more of a leap into a completely different world. So here are some thoughts on what the year meant to me.
If you don’t know me, I’m Jon Morgan, a software developer based in Melbourne. One of my interests is trying to understand the world around me, and then to share what I have learnt. I want this blog to be a place to discuss ideas, and hope you can join the discussion.