The papers are gaslighting us. Only one front page (the Times, 6th parag.) mentions that Israel bombed an Iranian consulate, killing two generals and several others, just two weeks prior to Iran’s drone response. Not to excuse either side – only to point out this pretty glaring omission of context.

A little knowledge can enrich so much

Today my wife and I took our little one on a walk through the fields and woods near our house. Having only recently moved to this area and having lived mainly in cities as an adult, this is still quite a novelty. It was a lovely walk — our just-turned-two-year-old managed to go for over 90 minutes. I think he complained less than me.

It was even more enhanced by the wildlife we saw. This included a field mouse, a muntjac, and several birds, including goldcrests and jays. A week ago I could not have identified a goldcrest, and until today I could not have identified a jay. But my wife has recently been reading Be A Birder by Hamza Yassin, a beginner’s birdwatching book. She’s since been telling me things about birds and my interest in and knowledge in them has increased. And so on this walk, I was amazed at how much even the most rudimentary knowledge of birds enhanced the experience. I now know the names and at most one fact about some birds (beyond stuff like pigeons and blackbirds), and it was so much more fun than just thinking “oh look, a bird”.

Another time I have had this experience was after listening to the audiobook version of the Great Courses' How To Listen To And Understand Great Music (unsurprisingly a course that does perfectly fine in audio format). While the course touches on many key developments in western music, at its heart is the classical symphony, with particular focus on the sonata-allegro form, a musical structure that appears once or twice in virtually every classical symphony and concerto. Whatever comes to mind when you think “classical music”, from the Beethoven’s 5th or Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to any of Haydn’s hundred-odd symphonies, it’s probably following a standard structure that includes the sonata-allegro form. Learning just this from this course has enhanced my enjoyment of pretty much every symphony. Plus, the lecturer is a hoot.

I often tell my students when they ask something like “Why do I need to know the ratio of a circle’s circumference and diameter?” something like that “You see circles every single day of your life, do you not think you should know the most elementary thing about them?”. I see birds enough times that it’s worth knowing the first damn thing about them, too. Because the basics are, well, basic, you can learn a lot of them very quickly, the cognitive equivalent of “noob gains”. It’s delightful how little it takes to enrich your experience — just some curiosity and a well-made beginner’s guide.

Day 14: cactus

They make great houseplants that require very little watering

A photograph of a child-like crayon drawing of a cactus, next to two real houseplants

Day 13: page

Day 12: magic

This cat could be familiar?

A black and white photo of a black cat with tortoise shell markings approaching the lens. The background appears to be a street

Day 11: sky

Hoping for some blue skies around here soon

Photograph of a bay with a few scattered small boats and buoys. The sky and water are blue, and the land is green.

Day 10: Train

Woman on train

Finished reading: Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett 📚

Day 9: crispy

Battered tofu and chips by the seaside in Mumbles

Day 8: Prevention

Outside the offices of the Daily Mail in Manchester

Photograph from a climate protest. Two people wearing covid masks wave a pink banner saying 'climate justice'. Another person holds a banner with a pink XR logo and the words 'fuck this shit'. There is pink painted splashed across the walls of the building behind

Day 7: Wellbeing

A few days of healthy meals ahead

Black-and-white still-life photograph of three bell peppers, three onions, a bunch of beets, and a vine of tomatoes on a cutting board with a chef's knife lying close-by

Day 6: windy

Lucky it was quite a windy day today, eh?

I now have an articles category for longer posts. If you’re not interested in short posts and photos, use this feed

Day 5: Serene

New Brighton, Merseyside

See more 30-day challenge entries

A black and white photo of a lighthouse with some rocks in the foreground. The clouds are slightly dark but the sea looks still.

Day 4: Foliage

Harsh sunlight on this day in Ness Gardens inspired me to photograph the plants up close in the shade

Other entries to April’s photo challenge

A close-up photograph of a bush. The branches are dense and short, each with a row of tiny, flat, pointed leaves on each side. The branches in the background are in shadow, giving a variety of tones. The photograph has been processed in a green-tinted monochrome

Day 3: Card

My wife drew this little boat a few years ago. I called him Douglas, and he has lived on my desk ever since

A doodle of a little boat in a kawaii style on a wooden book stand

Day 2: Flowers

This arrangement was snapped at the Malvern Autumn Show last year

Click here to see other entries to the April 30-day photo challenge

An arrangement of flower heads floating in a bowl of water from above. The flowers are mainly pink and purple, with some yellows to accent

Let’s try the April photo challenge. Day 1: Toy

For some this toy would be a collector’s item, for me he is a well-loved old friend

A close-up "portrait" of a well-worn Steiff  bear

I was too busy trying to survive to appreciate Dancing Mad, the final battle music of FF VI. It goes from a choral hymn, into a fugue-like solo organ, and finales as an intense prog metal track. Perfect for Kefka’s “damaged mad clown who becomes God” character. One of Uematsu’s finest.

Finally finished Final Fantasy VI after months of playing in short bursts on Switch.

Now I’ve finished Final Fantasies VI-X, the “golden age” of this series. I can see why VI earns its place as one of the best in the series. Despite it being one of the older 2d entries, VI is highly sophisticated in its storytelling, structure, and world/level design. It tells an epic tale of war, power, love, hope, and rebirth.

Next in my classic games backlog is late 90s read-‘em-up Planescape: Torment