Focused Distraction [265]

Greetings from my shed...

Let us think of other things.

A profound distraction and weak curiosity can still open doors.


The worst part of being into an obscure sub cultural pastime like amateur radio is the sleepless nights when it’s windy. The kind of wind when while searching for your bins you spit and it never lands.

Two days now. At night I lie in the dark wondering how flexible scaffold poles can possible be. About how much of other peoples stuff a 43 foot antenna mast might reach when falling. So far so good though. The main danger to the aerials seems to be from other peoples flying fence panels.

In other news, this week both my kids were back in the plague pit. I don’t seem to have any extra time but it’s certainly quieter round the house.

Also, the injury from my drilling accident has pretty much healed. Down below you can see how the up-cycling project ended.


When Mike @Sizemore recommends me a TV show or film you can be damn sure i’ll watch it. Last week he recommended Wayne.

At 30mins per show and just the one season, it didn’t take long to watch them all. Some of the best TV I have seen in a long while.

Just as Mike’s TV recommendations always deliver, so too will his new newsletter. The ink is still wet and you can find it here.

A handy tool for easily resizing your images so they look better in the Twitter timeline.

What is currently the most career limiting thing you can do?


I was reminded this week that about 12 years ago I bled out of my eyes. I was sat in the bathroom in a small cottage in Northamptonshire with a really bad and very sudden nosebleed. While pinching the end of my nose the pressure was too much and the blood diverted to my eye sockets.

Weirdly my first thought on this recollection was to write this ‘achievement’ down on my ‘things i’ve done’ list. A list I misplaced a while ago.

But apparently, true wellbeing does not come from compiling a list of achievements.


In a follow up to the other week… What really happened to ReplyAll.

“Why are girls growing up feeling like it’s their fault instead of being taught about this? And why are boys not being brought up to understand that this is gender based violence and that they cannot continue to perpetrate it?” ~ Maya Tutton

Did you hear the Today program on the 11th? Do me a favour (especially if you are a man) and listen to this audio. Especially from 2hrs14m for a particularly powerful section.

Maya Tutton is the cofounder of

RIP Lou Ottens. Inventor of the cassette tape.


Yes I’m sharing a photo of my breakfast.

Every morning (if it’s not a weekend and I’m eating something really bad for me), I’ll take out a small glass bowl and assemble my breakfast. A sprinkling of a spelt based serial with nuts, a small chopped banana, blueberries if we have them and some natural yoghurt to finish.

More often than I like, I’m reaching for an empty cereal box. My kids like to eat their body weight in breakfast cereal and even if we have six different types, mine will be the first to go.

So I’ve taken to hiding half a box in a mason jar. Hidden on a shelf behind the lentils and brown rice. That way if I retrieve an empty box I can immediately go to the emergency stash. If you’ve ever stored cereal in a mason jar you’ll know how satisfying it is to fill it to the brim — then shake it, to then be able to magically fill it further as the smaller flakes slip down to fill the empty spaces. Try it. It feels like clearing 10 lines in Tetris.

OK. We are far enough down the page for me to open a beer. I’m cracking this ‘dirty, hoppy, farmhouse ale called ‘Fazers on stun’. Made with pineapple weed.

It’s a small bottle as it’s 6.8% but shouldn’t make my spelling any worse.


Don’t be fooled. These are not cutesy candles I’ve been making. I’d like to think they are a mosquito repellent force field.

But some studies show that citronella is not all that effective against mosquitos. In fact it might just be masking human odours from the tiny flying vampires. The good news though is that lemon eucalyptus spray is effective, and I just so happen to have a massive eucalyptus/gum tree in the garden. Oil extraction takes time but is not hard. And now I can make my own candles it’s another possible project on the list.

After making contact with Puerto Rico using only 10W last night I realised how easy it might be to do the same with a human powered radio.

As all of my ham radio gear will run off 12V I sent myself down a rabbit hole of human powered battery chargers. Obviously my solar panels and the option of a wind generator would be far more efficient. But if i’m already doing thirty minutes to an hour of exercise every day, perhaps I could experiment with a bicycle generator for windless nights. I could easily power my radio using low power (or as Hams say ‘QRP’), but I certainly could not power the average American home [video]. Damn they use a lot of power over there.

There are plenty of videos around showing you how to construct your own pedal-powered generator but if I plan to exercise as well as operate the radio i’ll need something more compact. Something like this little device used by German radio operators in 1945. The Tretmax TM5a1 5W pedal generator.

I found this and thought there must be a modern version. Enter the K-Tor Powerbox 50. A 50 watt generator delivering 14 volts at 3A.

Here is a video review of it alongside their little hand crank USB charger. I WANT ONE.


Last week I asked paying subscribers if they would like to let me phone them so I can record our conversation for a podcast. Thanks to all those who messaged me. Especially to Harriet Dodd and Jim Robbins who have already let me call and record with them. I hope to get round to the others soon. If you are a non-man-supporting-subscriber and would also like to have a chat, let me know as my list is now entirely male.

A supporting subscription to this email is obviously not for everyone. It might be that should we be allowed to hang out you’d buy me a coffee. I know i’d buy you one. Well why wait. This button enables you to do just that.

Buy me a coffee



Next week is a supporting subscriber issue so if you’d like that and the audio I hope to post soon, you know what to do.

Either way. Thanks for reading.

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them. ~ Margaret Atwood


See you out there.