Back from a well deserved break

I resumed work today after taking a week off. Because I still had 26 days of leave remaining and must use them up before the year ends, I just booked last week without thinking what I was going to do. Despite the lack of planning, it turned out to be a good break. Spending that time without a single thought about work was a welcome change. And even if I wasted the first few days on Discord and reddit, I eventually got bored and turned to the healthier activities of reading books and watching films.

I saw Passengers one more time. I am certainly not equipped to review films objectively, so at the risk of being ridiculed I am admitting to loving Passengers. I think Chris Pratt—who ‘used to be chubby’, P keeps reminding me—and Jennifer Lawrence performed very well in it. They kept me engrossed in a story that has only four characters, one of which is an android. The film’s depiction of solitude and time as a prison and the despair of the condemned is fascinating. When I checked what other people thought of it—on reddit of all places—I disagreed with their suggestion that it should have had a darker plot. But, to be fair, I have a bias for romance.

Amazon Prime then started suggesting the Hunger Games films. The first one, which I had watched a long time ago, had not impressed me. However, after seeing Jennifer Lawrence in Passengers, I gave Hunger Games a chance. They were entertaining, yet not deserving of all the hype that they generated. I still have a new appreciation for Lawrence, though.

I had been reading three books over the past couple of months: Line by Line, a book on English grammar; Writing Solid Code, obviously about programming; and Crossing to Safety, a novel by Wallace Stagner. I wanted to finish Line by Line quickly because it is the type of reading that easily falls to the wayside if the momentum is lost, and I am glad I managed to. Writing Solid Code was always going to be a slower read, the ideas in the book requiring reflection for them to be assimilated. But I finished it, too.

Crossing to Safety gets special treatment. I am deliberately taking my time to read it, and I might have actually been at it for more than two months. Although it is not a long book, it tells a great story, has interesting characters, and is very well written. I continue to savour it by reading only a few pages every night just before sleep.

I made some small lifestyle adjustments during the week. I removed the company’s Outlook and Teams apps from my smartphone. Without these apps, I’ll have to open the work laptop if I need to see my work calendar; but I think doing this to set boundaries is good, especially now that home is also the office. I uninstalled the reddit and Discord apps, realising that they had been sucking my time lately. I then subscribed to about a dozen long-read blogs, which—goes the theory—should make reading the only option left for filling the hours that I recover.

It was a decent holiday overall. I forgot about work, ate at restaurants, ordered take-away food, read a lot, watched a few films, made some life adjustments, and am now reinvigorated to tackle these last few weeks of the year.

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