Mark Boulton

Weeknote 30

  • 4.55am. The alarm goes off. Well, I say the alarm. What I mean is 'dog'. And when I say 'go off', what I mean is 'bang on the door' as he wants to come and sit by my bed. This is just one of the things that have slipped during lockdown.
  • The other is my hair. For a laugh, I let it grow a bit. For those who know me, know I've had the same 'Boulton Family Haircut' since about 2001, or thereabouts. Shaved. It's total laziness, really. It's one less thing to think about in the morning. That, and when I let it grow, once I get past the 'Carpet Phase', I quickly move onto the 'Leo Sayer Phase', before, finally, the 'Kate Bush Phase'. Me and my hair don't get along. Never have. But, this last few weeks, I've let it go a bit. It's really, really grey. Like, really grey. White grey. Dumbledore grey. Gandalf the Grey, erm, grey.
  • I have been so busy this week I've not had time to think about my hair and it's increasing greyness. My type specimens project has been keeping me really busy. I've been talking to type designers this week – a group of people I have unending respect for, and who are all very, very lovely people to boot.
  • I'm trying to understand how people choose type. Not the thing big organisations are interested in – like, 'who works in procurement?' Or 'How do big brands buy type?'. No. I had enough of that a few years ago. The type of thing I'm interested in is trying to coach a designer through their decision process. Why did they fall in love with that lower case 'g'? Why do they need that particular slab serif over that other? Why is that rather latinised version of Arabic distasteful compared to the other, more traditional, one? This stuff is hard. People are not used to talking about type this way.
  • So it finally rained in Wales. Can't believe I said that. The garden is happy. My little bonsai are, too.
  • Remember all that flour I bought at the start of this lockdown? The only panic buying I did, really. Well, I've made my way through the first of three sacks of bread flour. I've got into a nice rhythm of baking four sourdough loaves a week. Two of which are for my in-laws, the other two for Emma and I as the kids aren't that fussed.
  • What I like about baking bread (and, I never really thought I'd be one of those people) is the process. It's long and slow, and you get a subtly different outcome each time. I've had a couple of disasters, but, by and large it's going ok.
  • I had my head in Eleventy code all week trying to fix bugs and things introduced on my specimens project when I started building it. Technical and design debt are funny things. You can never get rid of them entirely, never really get away from introducing them, and they can be a source of stress as it's seen as bad planning. I don't see it like that, personally. I think the best way of thinking about it is like gardening. You always have to do the weeding. There are always maintenance jobs to do. And, you know, there should be joy in that work. Gardening is really mostly that. It's tending to your creation. Same with websites. They need tending. They need attention to even the most mundane of maintenance tasks. Much of design is like that, too, and I feel like sometimes we get so wrapped up in the creation part, we miss the pleasure in just watching and helping something grow. Quietly. Slowly. Strongly.

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