Ben Barbersmith

Life (March 2020)

— Posted on Mar 29, 2020

I turned 33 yesterday. Not being allowed to leave the house except to buy essential goods and take one form of exercise made it pretty weird.

I’m an obscenely lucky man with almost everything I want, so my birthday present from Carol was the one thing I lack: time to myself. I was given a day free of obligations. I had a lie-in, breakfast in bed, a nice run, made PBJ chocolate brownies from BOSH!, worked on Spell Tracker marketing all afternoon, played with Anna for a bit, ate burritos for dinner (my favourite meal), watched an episode of The Good Place with Carol, then fell asleep early. It was a good day. Carol knows how to make me happy.

Home life

I’m slowly adjusting to the new reality of lockdown amid a worldwide pandemic. I always wanted to work from home 100%, and it’s nice to do so — but I wish it didn’t have to happen like this. It’s bizarre not being able to leave the house except for my daily run. I’m just grateful that my wife was already a full-time mum so I don’t have to worry about juggling childcare with work.

Speaking of childcare, my daughter blows my mind every single day. Her speech and vocabulary is evolving at a ridiculous rate, and her “danger baby” approach to athletic play is awesome. I’m so proud of her, and it’s a joy to watch her grow and develop. I’m a very lucky man.


The insane economic uncertainty (not to mention the crashing stock market) has put the kibosh on any plans I might have had to quit my job and work on my own business. Trying to build a business when you don’t know what dramatic changes might happen to our society in the next six months seems like a fool’s errand. I’ll revisit that dream when we’re out of lockdown and returning to normality.

Despite that, I’m still working on on Caster Level before my daughter wakes up each day. The goal continues to be to grow it 6x from a hobby business (£4k/yr) into a sustainable lifestyle business (£24k/yr). I’m currently spending my free time trying to grow the MRR from Spell Tracker for Pathfinder 1e.


I’m continuing to work on my Go skills. I completed the Exercism Go Track and had several hours of mentoring to improve my code quality. Next I plan to make a few toy web apps.

I’m also getting tempted to learn Svelte, maybe to use with Humanitarium. We’ll see.


I finally finished re-reading His Dark Materials. The Golden Compass was great, but frankly I found the rest underwhelming — the plot gets messy, the scope gets out of hand, and I felt like I lost my intimate connection to the characters as the books went on. I felt that way when I first read the series as a kid, and again as an undergraduate, but everyone else loves the series beyond belief. I’m kinda surprised that I felt the same way even now, reading them as a fully grown man.

When I was trying to escape the COVID-19 hysteria on holiday in Tenerife a few weeks ago, I rediscovered Discworld. I’ve been re-reading The Watch books in order. So far I’ve devoured Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms and Feet of Clay. They really are laugh-out-loud funny. Highly recommended to anyone who wants to escape reality for a while.


I’m currently running around 50km per week, but I’m not really following any particular plan. Some weeks I run half marathons, others I just plod along for 5-6km every day.

My half marathons were cancelled or underwater, and my all my ultramarathon races have been postponed to the second half of the year. The rescheduled ultras also all clash: I’ll have to choose between a 100km or 50 miler in June, then between a 50km and 100 miler in October. At least I don’t need to start training too seriously yet.


I’m continuing to try and watch my weight, but it’s hard to resist the urge to eat more than I should at each meal. I’m still 3kg heavier than I was at the end of my paternity leave. That said, I do have a perfectly healthy BMI. I guess I should try to remember that and be grateful for my fitness.

Mar 29, 2020 @benbarbersmith