the corner office

a blog, by Colin Pretorius


I've become increasingly unhappy about my productivity during my spare time, and especially how it's affected by the Internet.

People who know me might chuckle, because there have certainly been stretches of my life which have been completely caught up online. That isn't as much the case these days, though. I'm not much into social media, blogs and the like are a much smaller part of my life than they once were. And over the years, I've studied, I have projects, I do things.

Instead, it's a feeling, knowing that no matter what I've gotten done over the past week, or month, or year, I could've accomplished more. It's still all too easy to get caught up reading the news, random stuff on the web, one site to the next, half an hour lost from an innocuous web search, opening up a browser on my phone on the train instead of reading something more interesting, losing the occasional evening to YouTube.

Frustration builds, and then all you need is a nudge. For me, the nudge was coming across Cal Newport's Digital Minimalism, which is really the reason for this post. Having set the scene, review to follow.

{2019.09.02 21:03}

Overheard (On An Airplane)

Overheard while our plane was taxiing down the runway after landing, some kids and their father:

"Why do airports always smell like this?"
"That's the smell of jet fuel"

{2019.08.31 10:09}


I've been avoiding the news (more on that another time) but I'm reliably informed that Boris Johnson is the new Prime Minister.

By 'reliably informed', I mean it's been on every billboard, headline and TV screen for the past few days and everybody's been talking about it. Except me (mostly) because I am staying well out of politics, here and in real life.

But yes. Politics aside, poisoned chalice and all that. Gluggety glug.

{2019.07.28 15:33}

Leadership Election 2019

I avoid politics on the blog mostly, but leadership elections are an indulgence I can't deny myself.

It's been 3 very short, or very long years since the last Tory leadership election (take your pick). Back then, all ra ra and blue rosettes on the coffin lid. Now, Theresa May, bereft of authority, respect, and most of all, a Withdrawal Agreement.

The papers say she's now trying to rush spending commitments and legislation through parliament to establish her "legacy", which strikes me as rather optimistic and not just a little misguided. A bit like her Brexit strategy, come to think of it. The poor aunty's only legacy is likely to be "Botched Brexit" and "WORST PRIME MINISTER EVAR". These days, Gordon Brown goes to bed every night with a smile. Worst. Evar.

A sad way to end a career, but while I have some empathy for her on a human level, my overriding sense is just, as they say in Afrikaans, jy wou mos. It didn't take a genius to see that this particular stint of Prime Ministery was going to be a poisoned chalice, but she took the thing anyway and drank loooong and bloody hard from it.

And so again, a Leadership Election. People are caught up in the tribalism and spectacle of it all, but really, this is still just politicians being politicians: that poisoned chalice is still there, whispering "driiiiink meeee, driiiiink meeeee", and while poor old Tezza slinks back to her crypt, a shadow of her former cadaverous self, the greedy buggers have all still lined up for a swig.

Things are different this time around, though. Whereas the previous affair seemed to be over before it started, the new one seems to be dragging on forever. And whereas the previous one saw Boris' campaign end up like one of those rancid mushroomy things in horror movies which go 'pssssh' and deflate when you prod them, this time around he's played it just right, and he's firm favourite to become the next Leader of HM's Goverment.

In fact, with a couple of weeks to go, I think most of the country are now just sitting around thinking "can he get to the end without cocking it up entirely?" Given it's Boris, nobody would bet on it.

{2019.07.07 20:55}

TCO v4

I started writing up a little post in which I indulged in some first-rate navel-gazing about blogging and how my blog is 16 years old and how things have changed and how I blog less and less and have come close to shutting the whole thing down a few times but don't because this and that and etc etc etc.

But who needs that? Suffice it to say that while I blog far less frequently than I used to, I do want to keep my blog, but felt it was time to make a few changes.

The main and most obvious change is that my blog (and tech blog) now live at my personal site, For over a decade, my blog's been at and my personal site had a single page saying "there nothing here, my blog's over there though". Ten years ago, it was sort of cool, a nice touch for my blog to have its own domain name. Ten years on, my blog is quieter, and I had a hankering to consolidate things, so I have.

I felt slightly guilty about breaking links to the handful of posts which are linked to from elsewhere, and still get traffic, but those are easily dealt with. I may flog off domain one day, but for now it just redirects to here.

The second thing that's changed is how it looks. What actually happened is that I changed the blog's stylesheet to be mobile-friendly for the first time, and in doing so, I couldn't resist tweaking a few other thing as well.

... and with that done, The Corner Office can now continuing ticking over with minimal attention from myself and reader(s) for a while longer.

{2019.06.12 22:14}


Overhead in the local Tesco, a mother to her adult son.

Yeah, you have to flush a couple of times because Maggie (something) (something)

It's possible that if I'd heard the rest, this blog post would never have happened.

{2019.05.06 07:57}


The children, overheard:

It's OK to be jealous, as long as it doesn't ruin your day, or anyone else's

{2019.02.09 14:07}

Snow Report 2019 II

The threatened month-end Beast from the East turned out to be a bit more snow falling this week, on and off. We had perhaps 1 or 2 cm overnight on Friday, but it didn't stick around for long.

Oddly enough, I noticed today that there was more unmelted snow on one side of our suburb than the other, which suggests some microclimate effects I'd not been aware of. Sadly we live in the melted snow part. On the upside, maybe that means lower gas bills.

{2019.02.02 14:10}

Snow Report 2019

You might call it my own personal way of tracking the onset of global warming, but I've written about snow since we moved the UK a long time ago.

A few snowflakes fell one night in December and melted on hitting the ground. I could've blogged about that; I didn't, and not being bothered to write about half-hearted snowflakes accomplishing nothing is in keeping with tradition too.

Then, apparently, we had more snow last night. Only I didn't get to see it, because I'm battling an epic case of man flu and was fast asleep through the whole thing. There was nothing on the ground this morning, just a thick layer of ice on top of the car.

There are rumours that there'll be more Beasts from the East this year, but until it happens, it's best not to get one's hopes up.

{2019.01.23 18:34}

Great Minds

I was browsing a furniture website and every second page I loaded pestered me with a splash screen asking if I wanted to register for their newsletter.

After about the eleventh time I got the same pop-up, and closed it, I gave in. I typed in an email address. Truth be told though, it wasn't really my email address. My name isn't bugger and I have no association with

I was not expecting the website to come back with:

Welcome back! Looks like you've already signed up for our newsletter with this address.

{2018.11.03 20:32}

Things I Learned Today

I started ripping Linton Kwesi Johnson's Tings an' Times last night. The CD has not weathered well, with reported errors on every track, and EAC's been at it for nearly 24 hours, and still has 2 tracks to go. It's an odd-looking gold-coloured disc, and I wonder if that has something to do with it. I started listening to the ripped flacs to see if they'd come out OK, and remarkably, despite all the reported errors and taking hours to copy each track, they sound absolutely fine.

This is one of those CDs I haven't listened to in very many years, and it's a genre I've had absolutely no other interest in, ever. But I bought it in the early 90's while at university, because the opening track, Story, got some air time on the late night shows on Radio 5, and I fell in love with it, especially the plaintive violin solo.

I digress. So what did I learn?

Looking at the liner notes, I saw that the violin was played by Johnny T, who it turns out is an accomplished session musician and composer, and also does voice overs for British TV. says his real name is JT Rawlinson though some think he's John Taylor. His website mentions his pop career started out with The Specials, though Wikipedia doesn't mention him. Youtube suggests he also played with 80s ska band called The Trojans, whom he doesn't mention. They don't have a Wikipedia page, but did well in Japan, and were led by Gaz Mayall, son of 60s blues icon John Mayall, and who after 30 years still runs a regular live music club night in Soho.

I'm not a huge ska fan, but I think I'll be listening to the Trojans for the rest of the night.

(As another odd memory, I always associate the Tings and Times CD with Nandos. As students we'd just discovered Nandos takeaways and we'd trek up Louis Botha Avenue, past an old drive-in restaurant, to what was, I presume, one of the first Nandos restaurants in Joburg. I see the brown-wrapping-paper album cover, similar to the paper bags Nandos was sold in, and I remember myself and friends listening to the CD in my res room while eating half-chickens and chips.)

{2018.08.18 20:08}

« Older | Newer »