“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” So said the great and oft-misquoted Douglas Adams. And how right he was in his observation. We fill our lives with so much ‘stuff’ that there is rarely time left over to indulge in that age-old tradition of ‘sitting and doing nothing’. That’s something I’ve done precious little of lately, through a combination of an unusually high quantity of work and an influx of new ways to fill that ‘spare’ time in between work, sleep and mealtimes.
On the work front, things have been exceptionally busy just of late. A web designer friend of mine recently handed me all his clients, ahead of his year-out move to America (I think… something like that), and I’ve spent the last couple of days sorting myself out and getting to grips with the new web sites. In particular I’ve had to think more carefully about my client management – storing passwords, contact information, billing and invoicing details, and anything critical to the project. Before now I’ve done it fairly ad-hoc, writing down passwords in a text document where needed, and remembering most of the details myself. With my client-base almost doubled, I realised I needed something more substantial. I looked into creating a database using OpenOffice, but found their database app remarkably difficult to use and somewhat unstable – it got confused when I tried to enter some information, and I hadn’t even got as far as linking tables and doing complex queries! So in the end I’ve reverted to something simpler, but more effective than what I had before, keeping a document of information for each client, with enough information that someone else could theoretically take over if something untoward happened to me overnight. Which I hope won’t happen, but it’s good to plan for the unexpected anyway, just in case.
So that’s all kept me rather busy, and I’ve not really done much ‘real’ work – i.e. stuff I get paid for. I guess that’s just part and parcel of running your own business, you have to do the boring administrative stuff as well as the fun designing bits!
Of course, then there’s all the time in between, which is where it gets more interesting. As timewasters go, we have plenty in this house. Not only do I have my computer, which is connected to the internet is thus an almost endless source of entertainment, we also have a lounge. Lounges are good fun. Especially considering all the toys we keep in it.
For my birthday my Auntie Julia gave me a special offer thing for LoveFilm.com, giving me free access to film rental for 90 days. I’ve registered a whole load of films I haven’t yet seen, and they’ll send me an unlimited amount every month, with a limit of only having one film at home at a time (postage is free too). Ellie already has a subscription to Amazon to do much the same thing, but this LoveFilm one means I can book the sort of films Ellie won’t be interested in – so lots of car chases and stuff blowing up! I’ve already had 3 films come through, and they’ve all been fairly good so far.
And while we’re sat in front of the TV, why not switch on that black box underneath? What black box? You know, that big black box, with a PS2 logo on the front. Yes, I finally succumbed and bought myself a games console. I’ve been after one for a while, but waiting for the prices to come down. With the recent release of the PS3 prices for the old PS2 have dropped substantially, both in the shops and online, and it’s finally become affordable. In fact, my birthday money effectively covered the cost of the PS2 and 2 games, which is pretty neat. I’ve been playing GTA San Andreas for a few days now, and thoroughly enjoying every moment. I’ve also got GTA Vice City Stories, which was a follow-up game using the same engine, but from what I’ve seen isn’t anywhere near as good (despite being newer). Essentially it’s a PSP game ported to the PS2, and a lot of the functionality in the San Andreas version has been lost. In GTA VCS you can’t eat, you can’t go to the gym, you can’t get fat, you can’t build up your stamina and strength, you can’t change your clothes or your hairstyle, you can’t shoot using the old-school targeting system, there are fewer guns and cars available, and the map is significantly smaller. VCS is certainly a good game, but pales in comparison to the original.
In addition to all that (as if three major timewasters weren’t enough) we also have gerbils. Eventually (and by that I mean within the next few years) we’ll undoubtedly be getting a dog (Golden Retriever, on Ellie’s insistence). But in the meantime we’ve got gerbils. Two of them. And they’re so much fun. I could sit and watch them for hours. Except they sleep a lot, so there are times when there wouldn’t be much to see. Nonetheless, we’ve bought them several toys, and get them out to play regularly. They’ve even been up and played on my desk when I was supposed to be working – they look so cute hopping around on my keyboard and running around in my in-tray!
Oh, and then there are the usual suspects: multiple musical instruments, a Mini to tinker with, a garden to plant stuff in, friends to hang out with. It’s a wonder really that I get anything done at all…