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Archives for October 2020

Joy the Wanderer

Joy has wandered to Kraków.

Taken at SteemFest3 in Krakow, November 2018. I like this preset and have lost it. Thankfully Lightroom retained its name in its history, so I can seek it out again and hopefully find it. It’s called Chestnut.

Letter from Bruce Springsteen

Up early again. I woke up at 4 and got up to pee, then got back to sleep till 6, but that was it. So I’m up! First cup of coffee is finished and I have the urge to write out my thoughts, so that’s what I’m gonna do.

It strikes me that some of my previous morning pages entries have ended up more like blog posts that brain dumps, and that’s kinda not the point of morning pages as I understand them.

I watched Bruce Springsteen’s Letter to You last night and it was fantastic. It helped me with a decision, which was whether to help a friend out or not. I decided that I would. Dónal asked if I would like to record with him for a support slot to go out on one of his friend’s music channels. He wants me to bring my video gear and record and edit the whole thing as well as play with him. It’s actually a LOT of work, and that’s why I balked at first. My thought processes went like this:

  1. Do I fuck want to play (my typical spectrumy response to pretty much any request for me to leave the house for anything at all).
  2. I kinda would like to play, but fuck me, that’s a lot of work for someone else’s channel.
  3. Actually, tearing down my gear out of my studio is far too tall an order.
  4. Is this a room for growth in any way? Is it a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset thing (based on this book that I’m reading just now).
  5. Is there any way I could do it without having to unplug my digital mixer?
  6. What’s in this for me?

So I walked the dogs and turned off the audiobook (Mindset) so I could think about it. By the time I got home, I was no closer to making a decision. It was dark and I was wet and cold. In fact, I was probably closer to saying no if I’m honest and I didn’t like how that made me feel.

I decided I would put on the new Springsteen studio concert movie Letter to You for some down time, wondering whether that would influence my decision. And d’you know what? It really did. And the decision I made was that yes, of course I would like to record.

It was partly thinking about the signal chain that tech that prevented my getting back to sleep at 6.

Systems Thinking Book

Am I continuing with the Systems Thinking book because of my all or nothing approach to life? Is the challenge I’m finding in understanding it a mindset thing? It’s very scientific and I’ve always said simply and emphatically that ‘my brain doesn’t do science’. That’s a fixed mindset right there. Languages? Yep. Music? Uh-huh. Science and maths? Nope.

If I look back on that, it’s almost certainly linked to my high school. Every single pupil in my O Grade chemistry class dropped it. We used to play cards. I got chucked of maths for bad behaviour and was permitted to take only arithmetic after that, which I failed.

Prestwick Academy was the worst.

And now I’m left with the fixed mindset that I don’t do science or maths. To be fair, I do find them difficult and I really have no desire to get better at them. But when I come upon a book like Thinking in Systems: A Primer and I know it’s a concept that I want to understand, I find my brain struggling to parse the diagrams and understand the jargon. I mean it’s fairly jargon free, but you can’t describe a thing without using the words that go with that thing really. As a linguist I can understand that.

So, do I continue? I’m half-way through and have understood some of it. That’s better than understanding none of it, right?

I write this knowing full well that I will continue because that’s my character. It’s almost like I want to be able to check the box and say that I’ve read it, even if it means skimming some of it and not really taking it in. Is there any point in doing that? That’s my question.

Playing Guitar

I played the Gretsch White Falcon a bit yesterday while watching the Springsteen movie. It was unplugged, so kind of silly, but it felt nice. I think that’s the first time I’ve picked up the guitar in over a week. I’ve been thinking about that as I read the Mindset book. It talks about how talent is overrated and that perseverance is a super power. If playing guitar REALLY is my passion, how come I’m not playing all the time? Yes, that old chestnut again. I got good because I played ALL THE TIME. What happened? I mean I’m not going out to work now and am home pretty much all the time, so how come I don’t play every day?

I don’t know.

I tell myself that the environment isn’t right. The house is so cluttered you wouldn’t believe it. I don’t have a comfortable place to read and the clutter really weighs me down. That’s why I love sitting out on the porch so much, but I won’t be doing that again until spring. And I like to have a relaxing space to play guitar and to read. But I do still read. I go and lie on my bed and try to block out the clutter and it kind of works. But I couldn’t really play guitar in the bedroom as there’s nowhere to sit. I tried using my daughter’s bedroom as she’s out at school on the mainland through the week, but her room is cluttered too and it’s not comfortable sitting on her bed.

I can’t really get rid of the clutter for reasons that I won’t go into here, so now I find myself wishing we had a bigger house, instead of being grateful for the fact that we have a house and that ain’t right.

Wait, that wasn’t really about playing guitar, was it? Hmmm.

Building a Personal Operating System

I’ve been enjoying reading over the past few weeks, both for pleasure and for education – not that education and pleasure are mutually exclusive of course!

Having started August Bradley’s course on building a personal operating system with Notion last week, I chose a book from his recommended reading list and started it yesterday. It’s called Thinking in Systems: A Primer, by Donella H. Meadows and it’s very good.

I’ve tried many different personal operating systems to help me achieve my goals, but have never really understood how to plan for the weak points. I tend to have an ‘all or nothing’ character, so I’m either merrily ticking off my habit tracker every day or not ticking it off at all on any day. I’ve tried bullet journalling, OmniFocus, GTD, Things, Streaks. They all have the same problem – me!

What I like about August’s course is that its fundamental focus is on systems with flexible software that you don’t have to try and shoehorn into your personality. He’s just put up his Notion template, which I haven’t duplicated to my own Notion account yet or even really looked at. I’m a little hesitant to do it because it will have that ‘shoehorn’ feeling, but I’m pretty certain that the course will teach me not only how his system works, but how to change it to fit my own goals and aspirations.

I’ll be diving into his videos over the weekend, while keeping my all-or-nothing character in check so that I don’t get grumpy when my daughter needs to use my studio to record her audition pieces. To that end, part of setting up my own personal operating system will have to include a way of adding flexibility and the expectation of distractions. It’s probably more of a Mindset issue, the idea that what I call distractions are actually distractions, or if they’re just life encroaching into my unrealistic expectations of myself. So not over planning will be important, and also being able to focus for fixed periods of time and plan for that by not picking up my phone when it buzzes and by actually communicating with my family in a nice way that I’m unavailable for this chunk of time.

I’m really looking forward to this!

Mindset

Oh, and speaking of Mindset, I’ve also started another of August’s recommended reading books, Mindset, by Carol Dweck.

So far it’s okay, but not really telling me anything that I didn’t already know. Still, I’d never really had it explained to me before by someone else so I think it will be helpful in the long run.

It talks about the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset and I think my characters has elements of both, but probably tending towards more growth than fixed. I’m sure I’ll be able to use what I learn from this book to tweak my personal operating system and make allowances for potential points of failure.

Or will it end up being Yet Another Course that I’ve spent money on and changes nothing? Again, I refer you to Mindset! I think I’ve got this!

Cornwall Trip

Cornwall Trip Thumbnail

Tired. I woke up at half 6. What’s that all about? I awoke from a dream about working at the post office. I suppose that’s a thing that’s going to happen now, just like my recurring dreams of being in Russia or Ukraine or Kazakhstan, the milestones of personal growth and challenge, you know? It was pretty awful though, dreaming about the post office. I was serving a ‘customer’ who wanted me to go through all the bullshit of opening a bank account for him, but have the transaction coded to his branch in Knaresborough. Fucking Knaresborough? I don’t think so. So I was back in that ‘rude skin’ I inhabited whilst working there. That’s the part that will haunt me I think, how that job turned me into someone I really didn’t like at all.

Holiday

I’m just back from a week’s holiday in Cornwall and it was amazing. There were many highlights, including walking on the beach at Harlyn Bay and taking some great photos of my daughter and her boyfriend. It got me thinking that shooting engagements and weddings would actually be something that I would enjoy and I wouldn’t be terrible at.

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall

Tintagel was fantastic – what a place. The cream tea at Merrymoor in Mawgan Porth was superb, and I’m so grateful that my wife moved us on from The Catch, a seafood joint that we’d managed to get a table at.

Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

The views at Bedruthan Steps are spectacular. That was my number 1 spot to visit on my itinerary, because I have some really nice memories of visiting there with my wife before we were married on my first trip to Cornwall. We bought a painting of that location in Wadebridge and it hangs above my desk now.

The sunset at Daymer Bay while our kids hung out with some family friends kids, making an awesome sand fort – that was a moment.

Future

I was asked a few times – so, what are you doing with yourself these days? It’s got me thinking – why am I reading all these ‘improve your mind’ books, or business books? Why was I thinking about spending $2k on Uncage Your Business? I must admit I got pretty close to ‘converting’ on that one, mainly due to the great marketing job that Rachel and her team did, including TWO personal voice mails after having done a quick review of my ‘business’. I felt almost obliged after that.

But seriously, what AM I trying to do? The honest answer is that I don’t know. I’m soooo lucky that I’m in a position of not having to worry toooo much about it, what with my wife’s job and all, but I do need to start bringing some money in soon. Is my investing into CashFX and Finiko and MTI and Finalmente really going to be all I need to do? Well, if it all works out as I hope it will, then yes, why not? I have a website idea that might work well for me to attract others to come and join and find some freedom. In fact I had a good convo with a family friend while we were away and she seemed interested, so I could really do with having a site that I could point people to with simple explanations of what I’m doing and what they could do too.

That should be my focus this week then.

Social Media Management

What about social media management? I’m not sure. I do enjoy doing that, but I never really got off the ground, or at least never higher off the ground than the Toll Flats in Prestwick. I do still like the idea of doing it for guitar makers and players, but then why have I not edited and published all the videos I made at Ullapool in 2019? I don’t know. I enjoyed recording them a lot – it took real courage and stepping out of my comfort zone even to ask people to do that, so why would I not then edit and publish in a timely fashion?

I don’t know.

I watched a really good 10-minute video tour of Tom Sands’ workshop yesterday on IGTV and thought – ‘hmmmm, I’d love to have done that’. And I probably could have if I’d asked. But of course Tom’s seen how slow I am at getting the final product out there, as it took me over a year to publish the interview I recorded with him and Daisy.

Maybe I need an editor. That’s what the YouTubers are doing these days. I’m so fucking slow at it and I think that’s what’s at the root of my procrastination. But then I’m not earning anything on my videos, so how do I justify paying an editor?

Yes, that old chestnut. Would it not be better to put out consistent content that cost me money in the hope that it would start to draw in viewers through the algorithm’s rewarding my consistency?

Perhaps. Probably.

Or, I just do the work. I mean it’s not like I’m super busy with anything else, even though I always feel like I am.

So I’m kinda glad I didn’t sign up for Yet Another Course. I also didn’t sign up for the Systems Thinking course of August Bradley’s that I wrote about last week. It starts today and I still can’t help but feel that that course might just have been the one that showed me how to build a system that would get me round my procrastination foibles. Oh well, it’s too late now.

Last.fm Weekly Charts, Featuring Roy Harper

Artists charts on Last.fm for the week of 2–9 October.

RankAvatarArtist nameScrobbles
1Avatar for The TheThe The48 scrobbles
2Avatar for Larkin PoeLarkin Poe45
3Avatar for The CharlatansThe Charlatans11
4Avatar for Roy HarperRoy Harper7
5Avatar for Anouar BrahemAnouar Brahem3
6Avatar for AquariumAquarium3
7Avatar for Sufjan StevensSufjan Stevens3
8Avatar for Eric LugoschEric Lugosch2
9Avatar for elbowelbow1

Okay, so by now you know I’m a huge The The fan. I’ve featured them twice before I think and I still can’t get enough of this band.

Larkin Poe

Larkin Poe though, they’re new! I first heard them on Spotify I think, one of those algorithm jobs, and they nailed it! One song in, I’d bought tickets to see them – since been cancelled, obvs. I put them on again this week and still love them. I need to get to know them a bit better.

The Charlatans

I had Some Friendly back in my army days. According to lead singer Tim Burgess’s Twitter feed, it was the 30th anniversary of the album one day this week, so I listened to it on my dog walk. It does sound very much of its time and has a kind of ‘anyone can do this’ punk vibe to it. I really enjoyed listening to it again.

Roy Harper

I had a reminder come up that I saw Roy Harper on this day in 1994 at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. That prompted me to fire on Whatever Happened to Jugula on my dog walk and I loved it! Jimmy Page’s guitar on Hangman is particularly good, so that’s what I’m going to leave you with for this week’s listen.

Please Let our Young Musicians Practice!

Freya, March 2020, before the lockdown.

Our daughter is 16 and left home to do her last two years of high school at Douglas Academy. She made this sacrifice so that she could follow her dreams of being a professional musician. Douglas Academy has one of the best music departments in the country and it was a real challenge getting in.

Now that she’s there, she finds herself in the position of not being able to practice. This is because of rules laid down the local authority that dictate that brass, wind and choral musicians are not permitted to practice. I don’t know the actual laws and regulations so I can’t quote them. What I do know is that pupils in residence in other council areas in Scotland don’t have this pointless restriction, eg. Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

One of the parents has started a change.org petition to the Scottish Government to have this restriction reversed.

The school and residence have both set up practice and performance areas that are completely compliant with social distancing restrictions. Naturally both these institutions are duty-bound to follow local restrictions, even when they make no sense.

Here’s what the young people say in the petition:

We have given up a lot in order to pursue our dreams of becoming professional musicians, spending every week away from our own homes and families. Please help us persuade Education Scotland, the Scottish Government and the councils which run our school and residence to recognise our unique situation and let us do our music practice in the same way that other pupils are allowed to. If not, all the years of hard work and commitment we have put into music will be wasted.

Lots of kids don’t want to do their music practice. But we really do. Please help us!

Douglas Academy Pupils

Petition

Freya’s Class – Where are the wind instruments?

Here is a direct link to the petition, followed by an embedded Facebook post of mine that you can use to sign directly from there. It won’t cost you anything but a minute or two of your time and it might just made a difference!

Petition page on change.org

Call to #Hive Community

Hive is an awesome decentralised blogging platform and I just know that if I ask the #Hivearmy to come together and help out with a Hive Five and a signature, they will! So, how about it Hiveans?

Petition Link

15 Years Sober – Recovery from Alcoholism

It’s a cold morning, and raining. I woke up after 8 again. That’s two mornings in a row. Nice.

I’ve got a lot to do today, so I should plan. My number 1 goal is to be nice to my wife, to be helpful and available all day and not get snippy. That means I’ll have to get my computer work done and then get off the computer and be available. My Aspergers makes it really challenging to stop what I’m doing to deal with interruptions. It’s really tricky. My son is even worse, although I would say that he’s further along the spectrum than I and actually has a diagnosis. I, on the other hand, got a free diagnosis from the pediatric consultant when our son was in for his. Not that I need it. I know.

I did get Malagueña done yesterday, and I’m sure that that is partly because I wrote my goals down in a public post. I’m quite surprised at that, although I suppose I shouldn’t be. It’s a really nice piece actually and I’m really starting to enjoy going through the Solo Guitar Playing book.

Double Anniversary

Today is an auspicious day on my calendar. Firstly, it’s 18 years since our wedding day. And secondly, it’s 15 years since my last drink. So yes, my wife put up with three years of being married to a practising alcoholic, and for the four years before that too. I don’t know that I would have stayed with me during those years.

A kitchen table with a dictionary and some notebooks and pens and a bottle of vodka`
I spent my Christmas eve feeling blue and doing Russian revision with vodka.

Normally I would attend an AA meeting to share my birthday share, but none of that is happening right now for obvious reasons.

Recovery from alcoholism is an ongoing thing and never really stops.

Yesterday’s Productivity

Instead of reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset book yesterday, I binged Utopia on Amazon Prime. I saw the original series back in 2013 and loved it, but never followed up with Season 2. I saw that Amazon had remade it so jumped into that. I’m not actually that into Americans’ copying other countries’ content in theory, but in practice, well, I like good shows! So The Office, Utopia, Les Revenants, Old Boy — those are just a few that spring to mind.

The new Utopia was good, but I immediately followed up by watching the original series again and it was very good. This time I jumped into the first episode of season 2 and boy oh boy, was it good! So I’ve got a few more of those to watch.

I don’t really subscribe to the idea that watching TV or movies is a bad idea, you know, the old GaryVee hustle porn shit that says you shouldn’t be wasting time binging TV shows. It’s not a waste of time unless I’m using it as a means of procrastination or hiding from the world, which is a thing that I do, but this wasn’t that. I’m not trying to justify my binging, I’m just saying that I had given myself permission to have a night off, and d’you know what? It was great!

I did read some 4-Day Work Week though. Well, I say ‘read’. I have the audiobook as well, so I fired that on while folding laundry and I’m really enjoying it. One quote really stood out:

I endure a lot through clever rationalisation for sure. I think that’s why my mum’s dying in 2016 was such a cleansing experience. It showed me that there are bigger things that matter and that I should make some changes in my life. I didn’t make any changes, but it was nice to feel that I could for awhile.

So, time to get on with my day. This keyboard though. It makes me want to continue writing because it’s just so darned nice to type on. D’you ever get that?

Rhymes with Peachy

Oh, I just remembered my dream! I was cycling through Ayr and it had been all changed. I was at the traffic lights at the bottom of the high street and they weren’t changing, so we got off our bikes and went into fort to graffiti the walls. In there I met a guy who was a YouTuber but I can’t remember what his name was. He had a new Mac Pro and was setting it up with an external drive and I told him that I had the LG 49 inch monitor. ‘The Sara Dietschy one?’ ‘Yes, that one’. And then Sara was in my dream and I asked her if I could get a tour of her studio.

And I’ve not even been watching any Sara Deitschy videos recently. Weird.

Do I Need 5k Followers?

Just saw this Tweet from Tiago Forte.

So what’s a Bear to do? Ideally build a list. Mmmm, okay. How does one do that? Should I shift this blog to Ghost? But I’m really enjoying WordPress right now! Build a list with my ActiveCampaign CRM? I could to that. Okay, let’s add a field below and then it really is time for me to get on with my day. If you want to help a Bear out, drop your deets in the box below and I’ll figure this thing out!

I Bought MarsEdit 4

Okay, I did the thing. RedSweater replied to my Tweet really quickly and I got the upgrade price of $24.95, so I’m in!

I’ve got my Applet ready in IFTTT but so far it has been failing. It triggers when a new post is made to the RSS feed that it’s monitoring so this is my testing that again, rather than a notable post. Although it might turn out that way. I don’t really know what I’m going to say yet!

Ah, yes, micro.blog. Have you heard of that? I got an email from Manton Reece—remember him, the buy behind App.net?—with some info about micro.blog. It sounded neat, so I checked it out and went to sign up, only to find that I had already signed up. Presumably that’s how I was on his email list. D’oh!

I put my $5 down and installed the iOS app yesterday and have been quite enjoying it. I wondered whether it would give me a place with a similar vibe to what Vox.com used to be back in my early blogging days. I’ve heard comments that it feels like the early days of Twitter, which is exactly how App.net felt too. So it might have some legs and become a thing that I do, along with this blog here. It’s currently at camscampbell.micro.bog, but if it sticks I’ll get a domain for it.

Should I try MarsEdit again?

Back in the day I used RedSweater’s MarsEdit to post to this blog so that I could write in Markdown. Ironically I’m looking at it again now, but to go the other way.

Eh?

Well, I like writing in the native WordPress posting window. It’s got so much better over the last year with the Gutenberg blocks and all that, but I can’t get posts OUT of WordPress to sit nicely in my DayOne journal, so I was wondering if I could use MarEdit as a way of converting WordPress code into Markdown, maybe with BBEdit or Atom? But so far I haven’t been able to figure it out.

Brett Terpstra’s Slogger used to be good for getting blog posts in DayOne, but I got way into the weeds with Slogger too many times. I’m not a developer and spent way too much time typing sudo this and sudo that and eventually I gave up and started using IFTTT.

So, I’m now wondering if there is a way of using IFTTT to get my blog posts published into DayOne with RSS? Hmmm. I’m going to give that a try.

Still, MarsEdit is kinda cool for browsing through and editing blog posts once they’ve been published, editing tags and all that sort of stuff. I didn’t install it through the App Store though, so I can’t get an upgrade price. V3 doesn’t install from the downloads on Redsweater’s site.

IFTTT

Oh no, IFTTT has gone subscription only. Aaargh. Ah, but I can do it with the Standard account if it’s an applet that someone else has created and put in the Explore section. Thank you, Funky Penguin, whoever you are!

Right, I’m going to test it with this post, but the real gravy will be if it works properly with posts entered directly in the WordPress CMS.

Except I’m NOT going to test it with this post from MarsEdit, because I don’t have a licence. I’ll have to copy and paste this into the CMS. Wish me luck!

Writing is a Skill that Requires Practice.

Slept until 08:46. Result! Still feeling tired though. I made Illy coffee again because Len was still sleeping. She got up just as the last drips dropped into the mug. Ugh.

I read a nice quote from Scott Adams’ blog yesterday that kind of sums up what I’m trying to do here:

Writing is a skill that requires practice. So the first part of my system involves practicing on a regular basis. I didn’t know what I was practicing for, exactly, and that’s what makes it a system and not a goal. I was moving from a place with low odds (being an out-of-practice writer) to a place of good odds (a well-practiced writer with higher visibility).

Scott Adams

It was that that inspired me to make this a thing that I do and not just a thing that I think about. And besides, I LOVE this Ducky One 2 keyboard with cherry red switches!

Yesterday’s Goals

What were yesterday’s goals? Let me check…

  1. I didn’t decide on the Notion course yet. I’m letting it percolate. I did reread August Bradley’s sales page and it *almost* converted and still very well might.
  2. Profits reinvested into Finiko and Finalmente as well. I had four plans cash out in Finalmente yesterday!
  3. Adding more Last.fm posts seems like a thing to do maybe one at a time as it’s not moving the needle on anything.
  4. I did get all the guitar exercises done, and done well too, including recording one and playing the teacher part to the recording AND tabbing one out in Guitar Pro.

Small Wins

Installing Guitar Pro and tabbing out a tune. That was a bit of a hurdle that I’d been putting off for a long time. There’s a real learning curve to that software, but I managed to figure out enough to notate a whole exercise!

Content Consumed

I did the dog walk loop in the middle of the day and listened to an enjoyable episode of Roderick on the Line. John Roderick talked at length about a relationship and went into the emotion behind it. It really get a lot from John’s candour, but this one in particular was quite moving and inspirational.

I started reading Mindset, by Carol Dweck. This came up on Jim Kwik’s talk for Teachable’s Share What You Know Summit, but the reviews put me off buying it at that time. It came up again on August Bradley’s course page as a prerequisite for the course, so I thought I’d give it a go. So far I haven’t learned anything from it that I didn’t already know. One reviewer suggested not bothering with it but reading Scott Adams’ book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, instead. That seems more in my wheelhouse.

Can I do the thing that Ali Abdaal recommended in a YouTube video and stop reading a book? Can I really do that?

But wait, let me give Carol Dweck’s book a proper chance. I’ll read more today.

Today’s Goals

  1. Post the Blue Compass mic clamp back for a refund
  2. Post a book away from someone who asked for it on Bookmooch
  3. Learn Malagueña from the Solo Guitar Playing book.
  4. Read Carol Dweck’s book.
  5. Walk the dogs around the circuit.
  6. Write to Teachable with my questions. They didn’t respond to my Tweets.

Doesn’t sound like a really full day, does it? I could do more guitar but I want to NOT over extend with my goals and end up not fulfilling them. And I can spend as much time as is left reading and making notes.