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Showing posts from 2019

Another week flew by

I didn't mean to wait an entire week between posts but that is how life goes sometimes.

Unlike last week when I was on vacation and in the woods, this week was all about the typical routine. In addition to being back at work and dealing with the typical chores, I got to sit outside on the deck and record a podcast and sit out on the deck and read a bit.

It has been blistering hot here (typical July) but mostly dry this week (a welcome relief). Of course, Tropical Storm Barry is on the way and will bring a bunch of rain into next week so I am going to do my best to get in additional deck time today between working no matter how hot it is!


Speaking of chores, I've been trying to spend more time through the week getting some rest and I've been piling most of the chores (aside from washing clothes which is a nearly daily pain) to the weekend.

This has given me more time to read also and to watch some movies, mostly on Turner Classics. We watched "Where the Boys Are" last night because Turner Classics did their annual day of beach movies and I recorded them all on YouTube TV. Sure, they are cheesy but there is something that draws me to watching them just about every year. I have "Beach Blanket Bingo" and "A Summer Place" to watch this weekend along with a handful of others.



Summer seems to be dwindling away even though it just started a few weeks ago. School is about to fire up and band season makes August to October fly by. I wonder what life will be like when those responsibilities dry up? Will summer and fall somehow magically slow down?

Oh, yes, one more note - my carrying around the Sony camera experiment died off fast, as predicated. I took that camera to camp and never pulled it out of the backpack.

Back from the woods

I am back from the woods and still reflecting on what I learned about everyone on the trip including and especially what I learned and rediscovered about myself. I expect to sit in front of the recorder soon (maybe even today) and talk through some of my thoughts.

I did find that being disconnected was as wonderful as I expected. I never felt bored. I never felt like I HAD to reach for my phone. There was always something to do and when there was not something specifically scheduled to do, I found something to do.

I hope I can hold on to some of the lessons I learned. I hope everyone else that was there can also.


Off to the woods and away from the onlines!

On Sunday, I head off to the woods on a camping trip where I will have no access to the onlines. No data connection. Terrible cell service. My plan is to keep the phone off. My family will have a landline number to me in case of an emergency. It will be interesting to revisit what life was like before we were so connected even if it's just for a few days.

In preparation for this, I am using the magic of Posthaven and Tweetdeck to still make my pointless contributions to the internet in my absence!

On Monday, you'll get a pre-scheduled tweet and a new episode (pre-recorded, of course) of Up In This Brain to celebrate Canada Day!


On Wednesday, starting at 6PM Central, you'll get 24 hours of tweets as a tribute to the original vlogger and creative pioneer Nelson Sullivan who left us thirty years ago this week. Nelson recorded hundreds of hours of his life between 1983 and 1989 and many of those videos are now online thanks to the work of people like Dick Richards. Hopefully, many people will be sharing his videos on this anniversary of his passing. I think he certainly deserves to be remembered and I talk more about that in the podcast that will be published on Monday.

Photo credit: Photo by Paula Gately Tillman - © nelsonsullivan.com

So much content while I am away! Exciting!

I hope you all have a good week. I will be back online either Friday or Saturday unless the bears get me.

In your face(book)

I am amazed sometimes by what people post on Facebook. Posts I see range from absolutely stupid to absolutely gross to extreme TMI.

Facebook is a weird beast. It's a guaranteed audience for your entire post made up of a percentage of your "friends" that happen to be poking around the feed at any given time. If you have 500 "friends" on Facebook, I think you can assume that 150 to 200 might be exposed to your post. These 150 to 200 might be your family members, people you went to school with, people you work with, plus the randoms that you barely know but somehow they got in there.

Do you really want all of these folks knowing your dumb thoughts and observations on food, television commercials, political topics and more? Are your dumb thoughts and observations so important that you think hundreds of people should be exposed to them?


I enjoy seeing pictures of trips and events people attend. I like the milestone posts that are positive. I don't have the need to know that someone I was in one class with thirty years ago has an Amazon package being delivered late. I also don't want to read someone continually ranting and raving over this and that no matter how long I've known them.

In Facebook, it is very difficult to tune certain stuff out. I have to unfollow the person as a whole because I can't block certain words like I can on Twitter so I have a ton of people I have unfollowed on Facebook just for the sake of staying on the platform.

With the "internet of old" like this blog, you see the title of the post on Twitter and maybe a picture and you can choose to click that link and come here and read this. I don't jam the whole post in your face. I leave it up to you whether or not you want to participate. The same goes with the podcast.

Facebook is the equivalent of me stapling a flyer to your nose every time I have a thought and that, not the lack of privacy, will hopefully be its downfall when we all wake up to how crappy it is to have a nose full of staples.

When to stay put

At this exact moment for the last two Tuesdays, I have been jumping in the car and heading north, driving an hour and a half or so to play in a community band. Today, I am sitting here in the home office writing this post.

As I explained on the podcast today, I could feel my body starting to reject the limited sleep I have been getting lately and not just from my two nights of community band a week but also from the late hours doing concession stand work plus the typical early hours of work and the strain of summer yard work.



Several years ago, more stubborn me probably would have kept on keeping on until I ended up sick. Now, I realize that a healthy life involves proceeding with caution. Do as much as you can but know your limits and note the signs of increased stress, lack of concentration, etc. that come with pushing those limits.

Yes, there is still an urgency but we need to move forward with a healthy urgency or we'll end up being stopped in our tracks when our aging bodies finally say, "Enough!"

Sony Cybershot Pics 1

Here it is, the inaugural post of a new series that I'll probably forget to keep up with next week. On the podcast today, I talked about finding my last digital camera, a Sony Cybershot DSC-W800, in a tote. I thought it had gone to the thrift store a while back.

I charged it up and am hoping I will carry it around and take random pics with it that I will post here from time to time.

So, here we go, the first 6 random pics from my rediscovered digital camera. All of these were taken on the deck at lunch and the last one was an accidental button press!







The Square Rigger Attache

Recently on the podcast, I talked about my latest bag acquisition, a vintage Lands End Square Rigger Attache. I am not exactly sure why this bag popped into my head and I wasn't going to spend a ton of money on one but I was willing to spend a maximum of $20 on this one and luckily, I got it for just $14.99 shipped.

So, what was the Square Rigger bag? I would call it a canvas alternative to a briefcase. I don't guess many people carry briefcases anymore and I'm guessing backpacks are much more common than anything else these days so a bag like this is probably not going to be in high demand anymore which I guess is why it's no longer being made.


And, for the price, this bag would be expensive to replicate today. These bags sold for $39.95 in the 80's which is about $100 in today's money. One interesting feature is a very nice heavy-duty zipper around the bag. It never gets caught and seems to be as smooth to operate today as it was new. One unfortunate feature that you could get your initials sewed on the bag either for free or dirt-cheap so the majority of these bags has initials on them. The one I got does but I don't care. You can spend a lot more for one of these that has no initials but I see no point.

So, here are some pictures of the bag I got. It's in great shape for the age. The lighting wasn't perfect in the room where I took these (the kitchen) so the burgundy looks a bit washed out in the phones while it is not washed out at all in person. I've cleaned some spots on it and I am not using it just yet but I can see some trips to the library coming in its immediate future.





Just like inside of a briefcase, you have places for pens and even your calculator!



I don't know who VNA was but I'm glad they barely used their bag. This one is in great shape!

Don't mess with Mr. In-Between

My personal war against negativity rages on.

I mute accounts and if I get a notification and open an app, I try to I quickly move directly to the notification and not glance at the timeline.

And, yet, negativity still seeps through. I've seen two examples that I would call shocking in the last two weeks from people I semi-know (neither readers of this blog or part of the podcast community) who I think went way over the top in what they shared but it is probably just par for the course for them.



Just over a week ago, Warren Ellis wrote this in his newsletter (If you are still not subscribed but you read what I write here, my goodness - what are you thinking?) -

I'll only ever tell you about things I think are good.  Because, really, that's all we should be spending our time on, and all we should be raising up into the conversation.  Save your badness hot takes for Twitter or some other place where people prefer misery to joy. 

This has kept me thinking about why so many people spend their time sharing hate, negativity, anger, frustration, etc. and it has kept me considering each word I write here or say on the podcast. Should it be our mission to promote positive ideas and surround ourselves with positive people in our real lives and our virtual ones while many stew in anger? I am thinking, yes.

*********

In other positive news this morning, here is a great post about the importance of blogging in a social-media driven world and here is the archive for 1000 words of summer, which started back up today.

Finally, this blog looks a little more like a blog now. Thanks to some tweaks I made to the template yesterday, you can come to the home page and see and scroll through whole posts instead of just snippets.

Reconciliation

How long does it take to reconcile who you thought you would be x number of years ago with who you actually turned out to be?

In my case, a very long time but I think I've finally made it although I hate to admit it because I don't want to jinx myself.

The moment of reconciliation had been approaching for the last two years thanks to my involvement locally with the music program that my daughter is in.

The moment arrived last week as I walked through the hallways of the music department at my alma mater when I knew I was finally, after over two decades, at peace with the fact that music was my major but didn't end up being my life.

I am no longer distancing myself from playing music in order to distance myself from what I perceived as disappointment I thought I might have caused people who cared about me and invested time in me all those years ago.

I am no longer keeping my distance from people (or from places that conjure up memories of people) I thought I had disappointed.

And, now I realize that no one was disappointed at all.

We're not expected to know who we are going to be when we fill out that college application. They knew that. I didn't. And now I realize that any disappointment I perceived was projected from my own insecurities.

As much as we change and as much as people say you can't go home again, I have come full circle and I have discovered that the long-ago me that loved playing music has been right here all along waiting for me to find my way back.

What's a blogger?

In Crankshaft this morning (yes, comics are still in the newspaper although I read them online now), we have the question everyone would love to know the answer to.

Here is an answer but certainly not the only one.

A blogger is someone who enjoys writing and is too stubborn to quit writing on a blog even though the rest of the world has moved on to social media.

Staycation ponderings

Two notes as I pass the mid-point of the staycation.

First point - I've been quite mindful to make this a real staycation and that means shirking as many domestic responsibilities as I can. Sure, I mowed the yard because the forecast is calling for a ton of rain starting today. But I did not do most of my usual inside tasks such as mopping, cleaning the shower, etc. These items can wait a week although typing that just now makes me cringe with funkiness. Thanks to this additional freed up time, I have been able to watch several movies on TCM, finish one book, get an impressive head start on another and read most of the New Yorker Summer Fiction Issue.

Second point - With staycations come not cooking at home much/at all and that means eating out more than usual which would not please my doctor but does please my desire to reduce my domestic responsibilities this week (see First point) and this has exposed me to more terrible restaurant service than I am used to. Even if the service is technically good, meaning that the order arrives correctly the first time (which has not happened at two major chain restaurants so far this week), most employees I've encountered are just not polite. You say thank you, they just glare at you. They almost drop the plate on the table and not because it is hot (I checked) and they are so distracted that you have to ask for something two or three times before you get it. Of course, you may rightfully point out that restaurants are under-staffed and there is a greater population of people who go out to eat versus cooking at home now versus the olden days when I was a kid and yes, this is true, but even in my fast food days, we had minimal payroll and we were still expected to be nice.


It's gotten to the point that when someone is nice, whether they are the person checking you in at the doctor's office or checking you out at the drug store, they stand out because the majority of the population cannot seem to hide the fact that they would rather be anywhere other than where they are and yes, I get that also, but you are being paid to represent a company and not just how you happen to be feeling on a particular day.

Are we no longer teaching people to be nice as they grow up and then we're not training it and expecting it when they become employees? Maybe? The big problem, in my "old man yells at cloud" opinion, is that it's hard to know how to interact with a human being when your main interaction with others for hours a day is via a screen.


Staycation 2019

Thanks to Corner Gas, we have the concept of the staycation and I enjoy one every chance I get.


Most of my staycations happen because we've been too lazy to make plans and go anywhere.

This time, we have so much to do next week that we couldn't get away if we wanted to. We've stuffed in doctors appointments, car repairs, another evening working the concession stand and even a symphony concert.

It's going to be a full week.

How is this not just like every other week? Well, the big thing is I will be deactivating my work email from my phone. Out of sight, out of mind.

And, I have books checked out from the library and the deck is all done and ready for a lot of sitting and reading time.

It's going to be my kind of week.

Sunday Miscellanea

We have arrived at another Sunday afternoon and my laptop is out on the kitchen table so I might as well take the opportunity to post something. I don't have one particular cohesive thought to share so here are some odds and ends.

It's hot. Too hot. Spring went right to summer early and I'm already tired of it. I don't mind hot weather normally but this is baking weather and it wears me out. Instead of the normal highs around 80, here we are at 92 or 93 or more. Yuk. Everything I do outside is torture and this seems to be the time of the year when everything I have to do is outside.


Last night we were sort of outside running a concession stand for a concert that ended up being the biggest concert in venue history so, instead of getting home and getting to bed by 12AM, I got home and was in bed at 4AM. Ugh. I have some good stories to tell on the podcast so hang tight for those.


Tomorrow, I play in two concerts with the Community Band for Memorial Day. We start off in the morning playing at a Memorial Day ceremony at a Veterans Memorial Park and in the afternoon we will play a full concert at a park here closer to where we live. The good news is that they have taken the forecast high down to 92 from 95. :-)

Then next week, vacation! And it's a staycation this time because we just have too much going on. I start off the week with a physical and bloodwork (thrilling) and I have to take the Buick to a mechanic to get some work done on it (expensive) and we have another evening of fun scheduled at the concession stand (exhausting).

Now you are pretty much caught up on what's happening here in Armpit.

Until next time, I shall quote the words from the latest newsletter by Warren Ellis that dropped into my mailbox this morning. If you are not subscribed, you are missing out big time. You need to go out and sign up for Orbital Operations right now. I love getting it every week and you will love getting it every week. I guarantee it.
Take a breath.  Feel your feet on the ground.  You're standing on a ball that's spinning at a thousand miles an hour.  And the ball is moving through space at sixty seven thousand miles an hour.  You're doing all that without even trying.  Whatever the next week brings, it's not going to be too much trouble for someone moving at sixty seven thousand miles an hour while spinning around at 1000mph, is it? You can do anything. See you next week, speedy. 
- Warren Ellis (Orbital Operations 26 May 19)

The Podcasting Pouch

I've decided to try moving away from recording on the iPad for a while and that means I will be back using the trusty Sony recorder that I started out with in 2013. I've been storing the Sony and some of its accessories in a great banana pencil pouch I found at Target and now I have added a few items to allow me to grab and go when I want to record so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show it off.

So, here is the pouch, posed with some fast food condiments that just happened to be on the kitchen table.

In the outside pocket, I have a very old Radio Shack stereo microphone which originally came with a cassette recorder. It works nicely for in-car recording. I also have my patch cables for when I need to record audio off of the computer or another device. It don't use either of these very often. There is also room in this pocket for a couple of spare batteries just in case but the Sony recorder can record for hours and hours on one set of AAA batteries.

The inside pocket is stuffed full of goodies. Of course, this is where the recorder lives. It is no longer made but I think the newer version is fairly similar. Mine is a Sony ICD-AX412. I also have the earbuds that came with the first iPod Touch I got. They don't have the microphone on them so they are perfect for monitoring recordings. The external mic is a Sony ECM-DS30P Electret Condenser Microphone that @MMD sent me. My recorder is a model that has the ability to power that mic so that is pretty cool. Finally, I have my USB cable for transferring recordings so I can get my very valuable mundane thoughts out on the interwebs as fast as possible!

Website Woes

If you are one of the eight people that follow me on Twitter, you know that the hosting service for my podcast and a few others including In Your Earholes and Anthony Marco's podcasts is no longer working correctly.

This is disappointing personally for a number of reasons. Posthaven is cheap and up to now it has been reliable. You can't do much with it but you don't need to. As a podcast host, it's hard to beat.

Recreating the years of posts I have there would be a ton of work so I doubt I will do it. For now, I will put in a workaround on the sites I control and will start pondering a "life without Posthaven plan" just in case it comes to that. If I have to create new sites somewhere else, I doubt I would repost most of the archives. It would just take too much time.

The complete silence from Posthaven on the current issues is not a confidence builder but that is ok. Maybe this hiccup will prompt me to do something exciting and new or at least a bit different. Or, maybe the workaround will be perfectly adequate. There is nothing wrong with adequate.

I just do and do and do

Here it is, 8:50pm central on Sunday night, and I have the Asus Transformer out getting things done that I could put off until tomorrow but then I would have too much to do tomorrow so here I am reaching out to people and making plans that will take us right through the month of June.

Is there even such a thing as free time anymore?

If June is supposedly my quiet month, why is my June calendar steadily filling up?

I did get to sit out on the deck for about 30 minutes this morning reading and drinking my coffee and that was nice especially after all of the hours I spent getting the deck stained over the last few days and, wouldn't you know it, I saw little odds and ends I missed while I sat there and that took a little bit of joy out of it. It did rain this afternoon so there is no time for touch up today and there is graduation tomorrow so there will be no time for touch up then either.

The bad thing is when I do have free time I still have things popping into my head that I need to do and even if I don't get up and do them at that exact moment, the trying to remember to do them later becomes a to do in itself.

Busy, busy, busy....

Now trending - I don't know

Since slamming on the brakes on social media, this site, podcasting, healthy living, etc. I have slowly returned to these things with a mostly new attitude and as part of that I have slowly creeped back into the world of Twitter.

It's interesting to only have 9 followers now after I blew everyone away. I think it's a pretty accurate reflection of how many people still use it on a regular basis. At one point a few years ago before the first purge, I had accumulated nearly 500 followers. I had about 100 before this most recent purge.

I mostly only look at Twitter now on my personal laptop and sometimes I don't open my personal laptop for two or three days and I no longer feel like I am missing out on anything. This has been nice. What has not been nice was opening Twitter and seeing what is trending. Typically what is trending is a bunch of toxic garbage like the so and so is over party or quasi-celebrities who trend because they say really stupid things.

There is no way to turn off this list of trends so I decided to put mine in Japanese.


Sure, it's possible that this is full of toxic garbage also but I don't know that. I can't read any of it aside from the few English works that sneak in from time to time and I never click on those English words anyway. unrated could be about anything and I will never know and certainly don't care.

But, Jason, maybe you are missing out on some important breaking news? And, you might be right. That's the risk I have to take. Google News is the only news app I look at on a regular basis and its algorithm might be excluding important things. Who knows. I also stopped watching the evening news a few months ago and I can't say I really miss it.  

I assume that someone I follow on Twitter will do the dirty work for me and will share or comment about anything that is really important. And I have family members that are tuned in to what's happening who would probably mention if Armpit is about to be bombed or something like that. 

It's odd because I was that tuned in person for years. Newspapers. Magazines. Network news, national and local. I knew it all. But what good did knowing it all do? I was filled with anxiety over how out of control our world was/is. 

For now, ignorance is bliss.

I recorded today

And Monday also.

I'm trying to do these a bit differently. I'm keeping them shorter. I'm not talking about podcasting, podcasters, etc.

That's sort of a change from when I said back in March that I was not wanting to make my life podcasting fodder anymore. I realized in my hiatus that making my life podcasting fodder was not the problem. Being so tied into all of the noise was the problem.

This feels nice.

So far.


I almost recorded today

In fact, I did record but I deleted it.

It wasn't great. It wasn't awful either. It was probably up to my typical low standard. It would have been a perfectly acceptable 425th episode.

Here's the song you would have heard. It is great. It easily would have been the best part of the twenty-one minute recording.



But right when I was about to transfer the file from Backpack to OneDrive, I thought - what is the point of this? Do I really have something I NEED or WANT to say and even more importantly, share?

The answer, for now, seems to be no.

Late afternoon music

This song has a whole new meaning for me these days

Maybe it's always been on the radio and I'm just playing closer attention, but it seems like I hear it at least twice a week lately. I heard it just this morning.

I liked the song and the video when it came out back in '87 but I can't remember exactly what I thought of it.

Now, with my own touch/full swath of grey, it has a whole new meaning!

Newsletters are the blogs of the Tens

My apologies to one of my writing heroes, Nora Ephron, and the fantastic When Harry Met Sally... from which the title of this post was stolen/adapted from the line "Pesto is the quiche of the Eighties."

I subscribe to some really great newsletters. I like the ping of my email app and then seeing one land in my inbox.


There is a nice intimacy of getting a virtual letter from someone dropped in your virtual inbox. It's much the same way I feel about podcasting. I know podcasts are not being recorded specifically for me but there is something about having something delivered versus this format where I just throw words up for whoever might find them.

And, the burden is on you, the reader, to look at the feed or click on a link and come here while podcasts and newsletters come directly to you.

Newsletters are a fantastic outlet for direct me to you communication and they seem to be the next logical step for someone who has primarily written on a blog if you have an audience large enough to make it worthwhile and by worthwhile, I'm not saying financially worthwhile. You would just need to have a pretty sizable community of folks that care about what you have to say and share in order to justify the time and effort it takes to put out a good newsletter with some regularity.

For an example of the work that goes into a good newsletter, check out this tweet and article from Austin Kleon. If you haven't bought and read his books, I highly recommend them plus subscribing to his newsletter and following him on Twitter.
Just the image alone is daunting! Then, read the article!

Think of all of those sources, all of that incoming data that you need to keep up with!

Of course, being a creator is his livelihood and most of us are juggling creating around a full-time job that has nothing to do with what we are creating. For me, getting up early to write this is a nice diversion from the work day ahead which at times feels like mindless drudgery. Whatever I create on the side keeps me going and whatever I do at my job keeps us fed.

So, for now, I have no time and no plan to create a newsletter. I might be able to squeeze out enough time to create a not so great one but I would not want to do that. And I would only have an audience in the double-digits because I have nothing much to offer so the reasoning behind spending that time on a newsletter, time I could spend reading books or listening to shortwave or mowing the yard, is just not there.

That's why I will keep writing here. This right here is what I have time to do. Writing here brings me a little joy when I have time to do it. It reminds me that there is a writer inside of me somewhere and that I do have some ideas to share. I just don't have enough to fill a weekly newsletter.

If you want to subscribe to some of the newsletters I read, now you can! I have added a widget under the side menu of this blog named Great Newsletters. Be sure to check those out.

Finally, there is a newsletter of sorts for this blog. In the same side menu, you can subscribe to emails of posts under the very appropriate heading Get Every Post via Email! If that's too much for you, posts also get tweeted personally by me (no longer via a robot) on Twitter @upinthisbrain.

Book Bankruptcy

I've heard of podcast bankruptcy. It's when you get too far behind to catch up and you have to give up and delete everything but the newest episodes.

I've also heard of something similar with The New Yorker and I have had it happen to me in the past. It's why I stopped subscribing to The New Yorker. I can't commit to an issue almost every week. It leaves me with little time to read anything else and I was perpetually playing catch up with a stack of New Yorkers taunting me next to my recliner.

Book bankruptcy is a little tougher for me. I hate to give up on a book. I try and try and try to keep going but, especially as I get older, I realize the silliness of this. Time is too precious to waste and there are so many books out there that I actually want to read.

Over the last couple of years, I have had to declare book bankruptcy a handful of times and the latest time was just last night.


I know, I know. James Joyce is a master, a literary legend! Not being able to finish one of his books is like declaring out loud that I don't like real literature, whatever that is.

I just couldn't do it. I got about a third of the way done and had to bail. I had been dreading picking it up for the last few days and it had even been on my to-read list!

There were stories I liked. There were parts of the stories that surprised me. It was high-quality stuff! That would be my quote on the jacket. "It was high-quality stuff! - @upinthisbrain"

I'm just not in the mood for high-quality stuff or maybe I'm not in the mood for this flavor of high-quality stuff. It's good to be at a point in life where I can admit this and stop myself from the self-torture of reading a book that is just not connecting with me.

The perils of the cloud

Some people keep their to-do list on paper. I did for years. And, sure, a piece of paper could get lost or burn up or be sucked away by a tornado, but you can prevent some of those things.

You can't prevent when the site you use for your to-do list, which resides in THE CLOUD, goes down.

And that's exactly what happened to me this morning. I clicked on the Todoist app and boom! I am logged out and can't get back in.


The PANIC!

In their defense, I've been using Todoist for several years and I have never had this problem before and the outage seemed to last less than thirty minutes. Also, I really like the app. I like it so much that I am a premium member. It's so much better for me than the old Franklin Planner I used for years.

But the real PANIC came from the fact that I have a LOT in Todoist and I had never downloaded one of the daily backup files that Todoist has readily available out there until just now.

Yes, that was dumb of me. Todoist has worked fine for so long that I just, you know, got comfortable.

So, yes, I have a backup now and will downloading backups at least once a week. How will I remember to do that?

Well, it's in my Todoist.

Changes

I really loved this in the latest Orbital Operations by Warren Ellis which magically appeared in my inbox this morning as it, thankfully, does every Sunday:

The way I think and work and exist in the world is changing. I figure this is a good thing, and indicates that my brain hasn't started fossilising yet.
I've said this to you before, and I'll say it again: always be checking your practice. Times change and so do you.

More than anything so far in 2019, what Warren shares in his newsletter and on his website has shaken me awake to the point that I am no longer content with staying stuck, dormant, lazy, static, etc.

This process ongoing.

I am not just in a place of reinvention as a creator but I also find myself in a place of reinvention as a consumer of the creations of others, from how I use social media to whose ideas I allow into my head.

It's time to start listening to podcasts again

I've missed them. I've missed the voices I have been used to hearing. So now I have to decide whether to pick back up with the most recent episodes or go back through every episode I've missed.

I started with this one right here while I was ironing clothes this morning.

The grand reopening, now without comments

I was looking at a post at Warren Ellis LTD this morning when I noticed something that I had not noticed before. There is no place for comments on any of his posts. If you want to contact him, his Gmail address is right there on his contact me page but there is no place to comment publicly on his site.

Then I went to Austin Kleon's site. Guess what? No comments.

I like that and I don't know why I had not thought about it in the past. Moderating spam comments has driven me nuts for years.

I think I have always thought of the internet as I first thought of it so many years ago when it entered my apartment on a phone line to a Hayes modem with those glorious little red lights flashing as all of that wonderful data poured in at a speed that would seem unbelievably slow now but was absolutely amazing back then.

Back then, it was a bulletin board, a place for sharing ideas and building communities and everything had to be a community, right? If I post something, I should expect people to comment. That's what being online is all about. It's one huge conversation, right?

I am over that thinking and I am glad to see that a lot of other people are getting over it also. We are building some walls. We're making our Twitters and Instagrams private. We still have communities but now we are choosing who gets to be a part of them.

We will still have our public outlets also (like this site and the podcast when I get around to doing that again) but I don't think they are going to be like bulletin boards anymore.

Maybe blogs and podcasts will be a bit more like books. You can yell at a book but the author is not going to hear it. You can take time to sit down and write a letter but that letter does not become a part of the book.

If you want to write me a letter, virtually, you'll have to reach out to me on Twitter @upinthisbrain and you can even follow me there again if you want but I will have to approve that since I am keeping that account private. (I've back off of this idea of a private Twitter for now. I don't know why. Maybe I am asking for trouble.)

Also, I have broken the Twitter habit and I'm not planning on going back to looking at it often but I do see @ comments at least once a day.

Unlike Warren and Austin, I'm not going to pop up an email address just yet. I know the tens of you that might read this will be disappointed but you probably already know how to reach me if you are reading this anyway.

This website has been locked down for a few weeks because I have been on a bit of a hiatus/reassessment/life reset and, at right around the same time, I started getting tons of spam comments here.

With this post, I have "reopened" the site and turned off comments at the same time. We'll see how that goes.


Time to Evolve

On the six-year anniversary of the Up In This Brain! podcast and after nearly twelve years of blogging, I have posted an episode of the podcast about my move away from personal podcasting and blogging and my thoughts on what comes next.

http://upinthisbrain.com/424-time-to-evolve

For now, a much needed break.....


Sharing fatigue

We were out to eat for supper last night when my oldest daughter pointed out a family that had walked in the restaurant. I had no idea who they were but she knew all about them because she follows them on Instagram. They were a small, young family that publicly shares bits and pieces of their lives on Instagram as if this is a normal thing and everyone does it.

Of course, in 2019, it is a normal thing and just about everyone does do it.

Back when I started doing it through blogging at the end of the 90's, it was not normal at all. And now, after all of these years of doing it, there are times when I just don't feel like writing a post or sharing a picture or recording a clip.

I have decided to call this sharing fatigue. I am sure other people thought of this first. There are no original thoughts left in 2019.

 Another way to look at it is that sometimes I'm just about all shared out.
I don't know if it would be different for me if I was younger and grew up with all of this sharing just being a matter of fact part of life.

Yes, I can remember a time when none of this technology existed and the world was much smaller because of that and my frustration over that is why I was so into radio and I ended up being one of the first people I knew that was regularly getting online even when all we had to look at was terminal screens and you needed a big manual to keep track of all of the commands.

But now I'm just kind of tired and I don't share as much.

It's not because I am overly concerned about privacy. Sometimes I just have nothing to say and sometimes I think, after about twenty years of sharing in various sites and formats, that I have just about used up my "content fuel" and now it's time for the younger folks to put it all out there until they also get a bit burnt out like me. It's inevitable, right?

I think this and it's not long before another family walks in and my daughter turns to me with all sorts of information about what they are up to because they to are on Instagram and are quite popular around these parts.

A new radio: Retekess PR15 AM/FM/Weather Radio

That's right - the radio bug bit again so I bought a Retekess PR15 AM/FM/Weather radio from eBay for the total price of $12.99. It took 5 days to arrive with a US return address but a Chinese customs tag attached so I assume it was shipped from China.

I first saw the radio in this video:


The radio takes 2 AAA batteries and has a DSP tuner. The combo volume control/power is on top. The tuning dial is on the right side.

I had been wanting a small radio I can keep in my bag for when I am sitting at the school waiting on my daughter to get out of various practices. My car radio turns off after a few minutes and I don't want to sit there with the car running just to listen to the radio. Having the weather band is a nice bonus although our weather forecasts are now as close as our phones.

The radio ended up being even smaller than I thought it would be.

It's not as wide as a playing car and just barely taller. The antenna is eight inches in length.

Reception is pretty good on FM, as most DSP FM receivers are. On the weather band, it's not crystal clear like my Uniden scanner is but it is listenable and could be very beneficial during our upcoming severe weather season. On AM, it seems pretty decent. It picks up local stations with ease and the review above says it does really well at night.

Tuning takes patience on these small radios. You have to tune very slowly or you will miss even strong stations. Stations pop up and vanish quickly unlike analog radios I have had.

Sound quality on the PR15 is sort of lacking. It's ok. There is no bass at all and the treble seems a bit too high, if that makes sense. For spoken word broadcasts, it's fine. 

One final note - my Jensen MR-75 does beat this radio on FM. In fact, it beats most radios I have on FM. I don't know why it is so good on FM. It's a pain to tune, especially with the dial going backwards for some odd reason and AM does not work at all. There is nothing but internal noise on AM. But for FM, it's pretty incredible. It picks up weak and fringe stations with ease and it sounds decent. There is barely any bass but it's completely listenable on music.


A few subtle changes and a couple of videos

Just a few changes to report on this Friday that has finally arrived. What a long week it seems like it has been even though it's been no longer than any other week, of course.
  • I deleted my Anchor.fm account so Up In This Brain! Lite is no more. I don't need two podcasts. I barely have enough ideas for one. It was an interesting experiment that is now over. I will move forward sharing all of my pointless thoughts in one podcast and right here as I did before.
  • I've changed up the name of this site. I really didn't like "Word Hut" and I couldn't think of anything better than what I ended up with. The site address stayed the same so your feeds and whatnot are all good and will be forevermore.
  • I've decided not to do Camp NaNoWriMo this year. I just had a change of heart on that. There are other things I need to focus my time on, rest being one of them, and having an appointment set with writing every day for 30 days feels sort of pointless. I've been writing here for nearly twelve years so writing more is not going to give me some skill I don't already possess.
  • I quit Reddit again. I never open it. It felt pointless.
  • I made my Twitter private again. I've been back and forth on that over the years. I'm tired of complete strangers replying and favoriting and following me. Several of you are private and seem perfectly content with that. I have nothing to promote. I have no opinions to contribute. No reason to leave it wide open.
  • I haven't recorded a podcast for this week yet so that will probably linger into next week. I had a few things I thought of to share but I just haven't had time to press record and blab on so I'll save those thoughts for next week.
Here are a couple of videos to end the week with.

The first one is from our local television station thirty-six years ago when one of our anchors left for a bigger market. It just popped up in my recommended videos and it sure did take me back. If you're not from here, this won't matter to you at all but for us, these people were like family.

As I commented on the video, you just don't get that connection any more and I wonder why. Of course, I have multiple guesses and more have to do with big corporations taking the local out of local news.



And here is a song I heard this morning for the first time in years so I thought I would share it.



Have a good weekend!

Music? There's an algorithm for that!

I was reading the latest "issue" or "edition" or whatever you would call the latest the collected ahp newsletter and this part got stuck in my head and relates a bit to what I talked about on the latest episode of Up In This Brain.
I’ve written before about spending more time hanging out with your own mind, and this was a perfect mix of that and just listening to music without distraction, which is something I’ve found myself doing less and less — a product of the rise of podcasts, I think, and the decline of “organized” music ownership. (Infinite music, it turns out, somehow doesn’t encourage infinite listening).
Bam! This is exactly what I have been thinking about lately and it is what prompted me last week to pack my laptop backpack not with a laptop but with my Sony cassette player and my case of cassettes.

 I bet there's a laptop in there!

Nope!

This is the case I had in my car in high school and college. It's been pretty much unchanged since 1994 and I kept it that way on purpose as sort of a time capsule.


The real kicker, the epiphany I had while reading what Anne wrote, is that I get so upset with Twitter for their stupid Home view that is generated by an algorithm yet I let Pandora or Spotify spoon-feed me my music based on, wait for it, an algorithm!!!!

Isn't music far more important than tweets?

The cassettes above are in that case twenty-five plus years later because they were either recommended by a friend or were championed by a disc jockey or program director - actual human beings. Of course, as commercial radio has gotten more automated, I've drifted away from it and now I do most of my listening online to stations like WFUVKEXP, WBAA Jazz and KBEM.

I rarely open Spotify anymore but I do have a soft place in my heart for Pandora's Autumn Jazz playlist which I hope (fingers-crossed) was put together by a human and not a program.

Right now as I type this out, I am listening to smooth jazz on the HD 2 channel of a local station, WUBT. The reason I bought an HD radio was so I could listen to that station and jazz on WMOT HD 2. Most of the good music has been pushed down to the HD channels while "regular" FM is filled with the same 20 to 30 songs over and over plus commercials, regardless of format.

I don't know. I guess I'm getting old. I just miss real human interaction and involvement and I keep searching out and finding them where I can while trying to step back a bit from the artificial intelligence and data streams which seem to be taking over every aspect of our lives and it's getting harder and harder to do so.

Stubbornness drives me forward

When the readership numbers here are abysmal but I post something anyway or when I feel like I really have nothing to say on the podcast but record anyway, I wonder, albeit only briefly, why am I doing this?

The only answer I can come up with is stubbornness. I'm just too stubborn to quit.

It's not spite. Spite would mean I am writing or recording because I am angry or I want to actually inflect pain on someone. Come to think of it, sometimes I think there are certain podcasters who are indeed recording out of spite and they probably enjoy the thought of the listeners being tortured by listening.

Remember when Jerry returned his pants out of spite?



I will stick with being stubborn as my fuel to create and with being unwilling to quit even if no one hears what I say or reads my words.

I will continue forth, tossing my ideas into this abyss known as internet.

Gearing up for Camp NaNoWriMo

I've done NaNoWriMo a few times over the years (and even "won" in 2018) but I've never participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. I've always been curious about it as I've watched it come and go. But this year, this year is going to be different!


I did not want to sign up to write another novel and that's ok because Camp NaNoWriMo lets you bring any project to the writing table so I have chosen as my April 2019 project to write right here on this very site, at least one post each day of the month at a minimum of 250 words. The word count is being kept fairly low (in fact, I might lower it a bit more than 250 words a day) on purpose because my main goal is just to come here and post daily. 

About what? Who knows! I'm not planning to do a lot of prep. I'm just going to sit down at the laptop at some point every day and post something (anything).

I have also committed to not "cheat" by writing "All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy" over and over and by not writing posts ahead of time and scheduling them.

If you are curious about Camp NaNoWriMo and maybe you have a lingering writing project and you need a little momentum to get it going, you can go out to https://campnanowrimo.org/ and sign up. Then look for me under upinthisbrain (of course) right here:

My latest radio purchase: Eton Executive Satellit

A couple of weeks ago, I opened up Facebook Marketplace, which I do from time to time although I had never bought anything on it and one of the suggested items surprised me. In hindsight, it shouldn't have because Facebook obviously knows more about me than I know about myself. It was a shortwave radio and I do love radios. This particular radio is one I had been curious about for a while and the price was insanely low and the seller was just about sixty miles away.

The radio, which I picked up last weekend, is an Eton Executive Satellit. It was being sold as new in box for the insanely low price of $25. That's right, a radio that typically sells for around $110 new, for $25. It seemed too good to be true.

The pictures were of the radio in the box. I asked if it had been tested. It had. The seller had multiple good reviews. I went for it.

And, I'm glad I did. It ended up being exactly as described.


I did place a piece of Dim It Light Dimming Sheet over the display because the display was just too bright for my liking. Since I took this picture early last week, I trimmed the sheet down to the correct size so it's hard to tell it's even there now.

The reviews of this model are a mixed bag so here are a few of my observations:
  • As many of the reviews I read noted, it does mute while tuning, unlike my analog Tecsun PL-660. This results in an almost unpleasant "pop" with every step of the dial (except when fine tuning single sideband). I found it quite annoying at first but oddly enough, I've sort of gotten used to it over the last week and now I barely notice it at all.
  • Compared to my Tecsun PL-660, the noise floor on the Satellit on MW and SW seems lower so it's just more pleasant to listen to. 
  • Scanning shortwave on the Eton Satellit seems more sensitive and is faster than the scan function on my PL-660.
  • Sensitivity on shortwave seems better on the Eton while selectivity is a bit better on the Tecsun IMHO.
  • Switching between slow and fast tuning is easier on the Eton Satellit than on the PL-660 because you just press in the knob on the Satellit to swap back and forth. 
  • The Eton Satellit is on frequency. My Tecsun PL-660 has become misaligned on the airband and FM and my PL-660 has an older firmware that predates the ability to correct this problem. 
  • Aside from the misalignment on the PL-660, airband performance seems equal between both radios although the Satellit has a squelch function which I have not used since the noise floor is so low on it. 
  • On FM, the Satellit is much better than the PL-660. The Satellit even beats my Sangean PR-D4W on FM.
  • The Satellit does have RDS on FM. I turned off the function to set the time using RDS because we have a station here that seems to be transmitting the wrong time via RDS!
  • On MW, the PL-660 is barely edged out by the Eton because of the Eton's lower noise floor. Aside from that, they seem about equal. Neither radio is as good as my Sangean PR-D4W on MW, of course, but all three radios are impressive on MW. The PR-D4W is just at another level. It's an amazing MW radio, the best I've ever owned.
  • Single sideband is sort of a pain on the Eton. I feel like I can find and then fine tune stations faster on the PL-660 although, just like the muting while tuning, I have gotten used to the tuning system on the Eton fairly quickly.
  • The cover that comes with the Executive version of this radio is sort of odd. The antenna has to slip through a hole on the cover. You can't really leave the cover on while using it. The antenna is at an odd angle if you do. I believe the pouch from the non-Executive model would have been more practical but what do I know. 
  • With all of this in mind, I now keep the Eton on the table beside my chair in the living room. It's become my preferred all-around radio.
And, what a bargain I got! It's easily the best radio bargain I have even gotten. 

So, would I have paid full price for the Eton Satellit knowing what I know now? No. 

If I hadn't gotten this deal and instead I had to buy a radio for full price, I would buy a new PL-660 with the latest firmware which allows you to align the radio yourself. Performance between the radios is quite close and the PL-660 is simpler to use overall plus the charging system on it is better. The Eton Satellit is still using the same charging system as the old Eton E5 (Grundig G5) I had that finally stopped working. 

But, the misalignment, which appears to be a common problem with the PL-660, is a real letdown. Luckily, it's just on FM and the airband so I will keep using my PL-660 some for shortwave and the Eton Satellit will be my main, all-around radio with my Sangean PR-D4W being used when I am serious about listening to MW which is usually just about every night!


Sweater repair

I finally had to repair the pockets of my cardigan sweater. The pockets had slowly separated from the sweater and had begun to resemble loose flaps. This was quite unsightly and bordered on embarrassing.

This particular sweater, one of two that I bought on clearance at the local outlet mall, probably in 2003, hangs over the chair in my home office and never leaves the house. I use it on chilly days when I don't want to turn on the heat and on warmer days when the air conditioning is going full blast but I don't want to turn it down because the sun bakes the side of the house where the home office is later in the afternoons.

I've worn it many times and I probably don't wash it often enough but it serves me well and has a nice Perry Como vibe to it.

Here it is, folded back, right before the repair procedure commenced. I used a wonderful product called Liquid Stitch and glued those pockets nicely back in place and then I placed stacks of books on each pocket to apply pressure for a few hours. Sewing them would have required finding a thread that matched and who has time for that? Liquid Stitch has never failed me and is perfect for lazy people like myself.


Don't look too closely at that picture because I am sure you would see corgi hair on there if you did (I just saw one) and I've had to resign myself to having corgi hair somewhere on me at all times. I keep trying to clean it all up but he sheds faster than I can sweep and vacuum.

As I mentioned earlier, there is a second sweater that I bought on that day many years back which is identical aside from being a slightly darker color. It has gone on the lam. It used to live in my bedroom closet and was rarely worn. I guess it was a backup sweater. Don't laugh. Mr. Rogers had a closet full of them but even he could only wear one at a time.

Everyone in the house says they have no idea what happened to it but I am sure one of them took it on a chilly day and misplaced it, hopefully somewhere in the house. I would hate to have it lost permanently and I doubt anyone would have worn it outside of them house since these sweaters are terribly out of style.

Ploink ploink ploink

It is still raining here and I am sitting at the kitchen table, typing this out on my newly-fixed and back in service Asus Transformer (more on that in a bit) and I am listening to the rain coming down. I can hear it hitting the panes of glass on the window beside me and also, I guess, colliding with the deck that is right on the other side. Or maybe that is the sound of the rain making contact with the gutter that runs along just to the upper right of where I sit.

Ploink ploink ploink.

It has been raining for what seems like weeks. We've probably had a foot of rain here this month and dark, gloominess and flooding are our constant companions now. School is out today because they didn't want to risk getting students out of their homes only to have no way to get them back if this is just enough rain to push the creeks and streams into the roads. So far, so good but the heavier rain is still on the way.


Ploink ploink ploink.

I normally don't hear the sound the raindrops make because I am either listening to podcasts (I'm all caught up) or music on the radio or some streaming device (I just didn't think to turn either on when I walked into the kitchen for my cup of coffee and here is the Asus Transformer working again so why not sit down and type out something) but at this moment there is mainly silence which amplifies the ploink ploink ploink.

Oh, yes, you are wondering what happened to my trusty Asus Transformer. I had it installing updates a few days ago and it suddenly powered off and would not come back on. The charging icon would show charging on the screen if I tried to power it on but the power was too low to actually fire up the device. Very odd.

The solution was to take the cover off the device (not for the faint of heart and yes, I did make a little crack but who cares - it's old and no longer under warranty) and then physically remove the battery connector for a few minutes. I guess it was a reboot for the charging system. I plugged it back in and the battery showed as full and the Transformer was completely, eh, transformed from being a useless slab of electronics to a fully working machine again.

But, what a pain. Can you imagine having to do that to an iPad? No, because Apple wouldn't have made a device which requires such an operation from time to time to keep it going.

Ploink ploink ploink.

My coffee is ready. The sound of the rain is nice but I think some jazz would be even nicer so I will return to my desk now and turn on some music.

Dim

It's gloomy here today. In fact, it is so dark at times that I nearly need to turn on the lights and it's not even 1PM yet.

It was a dark and gloomy day. Apologies to Charles M. Schulz.

I resist turning on the lights because I am not a big fan of artificial lighting and I will do as much as I can with as little natural light as is available before giving in and turning on either the drafting lamp attached to my work desk or the small lamp that sits on a dresser directly behind me.

I especially don't like overhead lighting but I'm not exactly sure why.

Maybe it has to do with my wearing glasses for the last four decades and how much brightness and glare seems to bother me more with each passing year.

Maybe I am carrying on a trait of my great-grandmother who would often sit in her chair until it was totally dark, seeing no need to get up and turn on a lamp, which could be quite creepy because I would come home and turn on the light and there she would be, in what was a few seconds before a completely dark room.

Maybe less light just seems more cozy.

So, here I sit, glad that the clouds have thinned out just a little over the past few minutes and I won't have to turn on a lamp, at least for now.