Weeknotes #65: finally, it happened to me

  • Lady rona finally deigned to come and visit, with comically bad timing. It’s pretty nasty, even after vaccination. On the other hand, the freezer is well stocked, and I had a week off of work anyway, so I’m just going to suck it up and catch up on some sleep and podcasts and maybe attempt to make some soup.
  • I now have faith in lateral flow tests. I was beginning to think they were all make believe.
  • Before being forced horizontal by the ‘vid, life approached normal: decent stints in the office, regular gym visits, trains, vocal workshops, family visits.
  • I also did some basic DIY and made a little under-desk shelf for my midi keyboard. I’m pleased with it because I’m terrible at this stuff, but it doesn’t interfere with knees, and it is perfect for my music making workflow. Happy.
  • Covid + war news is a pretty bleak combination so trying to a) minimise exposure to just the most useful analysis, b) keep in touch with the positive messages from friends in Ukrainian queer choirs who have managed to escape the country to Poland, Bulgaria and elsewhere, and c) take heart from plants coming back to life inside and out the house as a reminder that spring follows winter always.
  • I saw Dune and really, really enjoyed the unrelenting analogue nature of everything and of course the soundscapes / soundtrack. [It is basically just a remake of Tremors though innit?]
  • On turning 40: a rather lovely, bittersweet but hopeful essay on reaching a milestone we focus on a little too much.
  • People don’t work as much as you think: another in a long line of proofs on how productive we should expect to be.
  • Late to the party but I want a Teenage Engineering OP-Z
Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #64: easy, tiger

  • After a long period of hibernation, this week was all about being out. Out at the theatre, out in the office, out for dinners, out dancing, and finally, tuckered out.
  • On Monday, saw a 20th anniversary concert version of Taboo the musical at the Palladium. The show and the venue were absolute hot messes; messy plot, fabulous characters everywhere, everyone treading on each others’ toes. Glorious.
  • Cycling with clipless has gone from a total pain in the arse to second nature in the space of two weeks, which I’m pretty relieved about. It took about 120 miles of zooming about to get into the habit of clipping in and out without thinking, but I’m there now. The subconscious goes at its own pace.
  • Frances took me on a mystery cycle tour, which turned out to be themed as a celebration of the Chinese new year of the tiger. It was a lot of fun!
  • The Bleeding Obvious came to visit and we recorded some backing vocals for her upcoming third album in our spare room. It serves as a poor studio, having to pause every fifteen minutes to let the church bells do their thing, or the horns and sirens from the road. But we made it work.
  • Went to an actual house party with lots of really good people. Danced! Accidentally stayed until 5am. This may have been ill advised, but I think I needed it quite badly.
Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #63: taxing

  • January comes to a close and I’ve been studiously avoiding going to the gym because of 100k cases of ‘rona a day, so despite doing a chunk of cycling I’m feeling a bit grotty and unfit. As case numbers plateau I’m struggling with the idea of returning to group exercise like F45 (which I enjoyed at the end of 2021), but now might be the time to just Get On With It.
  • Our washing machine flooded two weeks ago and this week the door failed. J fixed it both times but it might be time for a new one. We’ve had it 12 years. Is that a good innings? Apparently that is double the average lifespan. Such excitement.
  • Did my tax return a few days early! This wasn’t incredibly painful but the whole transparency of upfront payments on account could be better.
  • I’m finishing up one of my bigger contracts at the end of March and starting to think about lining up a bit more work for Spring and Summer. To help with this I plan to write case studies of the things I’ve achieved with clients in the last couple of years (been too busy to do it), and articulate what I’m looking for next.
  • All of this sounds easy when I write it like that, but this kind of activity is, in fact, my kryptonite. Helpful suggestions welcome.
  • Relatedly, Why is LinkedIn so cringe?
  • There are plans slowly entering the diary for dinners, theatre visits, concerts and other things. Oh my.
  • Still no Sue Gray.
Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #62: boots and cats

  • Jamuary entered a lull as work took over a bit last week, but hoping to get some sort of musical silliness happening this week.
  • Loads of covid around with family and friends, just as restrictions get lifted. Not great. Hoping that vaccination really does reduce the chances of long covid and that if I finally succumb this year (as seems inevitable) it’s only a little bout.
  • Quite literally ran out of shows that I want to watch on the TV (just found and started Ozark but I think that might be the last actual series left unwatched on the whole internet)
  • Beyond that, watched Jumbo (about a girl who falls in love with a fairground ride). It was surprisingly moving and amusing given the simplicity of the plot and I enjoyed the soundtrack which seemed to emerge naturally from the aesthetic of the picture, and in particular the characters’ themes (including Jumbo itself)
  • Quite enjoyed Phil’s list of best asks of 2021, in particular the best life upgrade during the pandemic and how do I become an artist, is it too late
  • Discovered byrdle, the only clone of wordle to feature solely words to do with choral music and so, obviously, I am into it.
  • Joined an informal book club and now working through Klara and the Sun
  • I decided to venture deeper into the world of cycle nerdery and bought myself some clipless shoes (confusing name because hardly anyone has toe clips on their bikes anymore). I’m using them with hybrid pedals and so far I haven’t fallen off, but I was initially finding cycling with them more annoying than useful. Finding the spot to clip in seems to happen either instantly or take several minutes. After a second trip out, to the velopark, I started to get much more comfortable with them (with only one near fall).
  • Fun task of the week was finding someone to lead a beatbox workshop with my choir and to help us realise an arrangement. Friday afternoon video calls are definitely enhanced by facial percussion.
Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #61: relentlessly grey

  • It’s been relentlessly Gray in the news and somewhat grey in the weather, although a couple of spins out on the bike in the sunshine this week were welcome after there was only 1 hour of observed sunshine in London the whole second half of December
  • Because not much going out is happening, watched a load of films this week: Patrick (whodunnit at an 80s nudist forest campground in Belgium – more enjoyable than it sounds), No Time To Die (standard Bond fare but also somewhat bleak), plus three queer films: Sequin in a Blue Room (dark, queer coming-of-age-in-the-time-of-apps film – very stylish but quite troubling in places), Postcards from London (stylised 90s film about soho escorts), The Strong Ones (a Chilean film about two boys finding love in a very foggy place)
  • Saw a couple of Leigh Bowery’s wonderful outfits at a tiny exhibition at the Fitzrovia chapel, which itself was preserved while the entire Middlesex Hospital surrounding it was demolished and replaced with flats about ten years ago
  • Jamuary continued with a slightly bigger project, entering a remix challenge put on by Spitfire Audio of a Marshall Vincent track. I hadn’t heard of Marshall before this but now I have a crush on his music. Anyway: like, comment, subscribe etc:

Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #60: the new year begins

New year = new desk. I can heartily recommend having a little more space to spread out and the ability to adjust things to the right height. Getting old.

Like a sheep, I’ve succumbed to all the January trends:

  • Wordle (short episodic games ftw)
  • Don’t Look Up (uneven and unsure of itself, and ultimately forgettable but still quite good value)
  • The Tourist (a lot of time spent watching Jamie Dornan suffering an increasingly pungent t-shirt while driving and/or being driven around in the australian outback)

I’ve been doing Jamuary this year (thanks to Chris for introducing me to it via his soundcloud). So far it’s helped me get to grips with a new vocoder, find some good stuff on splice and help me get to know my new midi keyboard. The results are hardly ready for primetime but creating something most days is certainly helping get the subconscious idea juices flowing.

Jamuary is a bit easier to do as omicron is still stopping me doing most in-person things with other humans. On balance of risk I’m still doing barbershop singing, in a big airy room with the doors open which, at this time of the year, which necessitates a lot of layers.

I had to return a package to Amazon, and they suggested I do so at our local Fresh hub. I duly did so and was told I could spend £10 free in said Fresh hub, but only if I spent it IMMEDIATELY. This is how I came to panic-buy an oven-ready cauliflower cheese from the online-bookseller-turned-unethical-space-explorer with whom I once played werewolf by accident.

The washing machine drain blocked, flooding a good portion of our downstairs. A man with a big hose (easy tiger) sorted it and in the process of sorting through the mess we managed to recycle a small nation’s worth of plastic bags that had been compressed into the machine cupboard.

… I can understand why other animals hibernate for winter.

Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #59: wrapping the year

Quite appropriate that I only managed 21 weeknotes in the year 2021. I was aiming for every week. On the other hand, this is more than I managed in 2020. Progress!

Since last time…

  • Escaped the country twice – firstly to Greece, and then the USA.
  • I tried out F45, to try and and build some all-round strength and fitness, lose some weight and fix the never-ending foot woe. It hurts of course, and I’m not a massive fan of all the high-fiving but or me, it was good. I lost 3% of body fat within four weeks of the challenge – and my foot stopped hurting despite using it for all kinds of weird short-lived impact stuff. I will do it again if covid ever sorts itself out.
  • Remixed a Bright Light Bright Light song earlier in the year and to my surprise, it got published. First foray back into music production in quite some time. More on this in future posts I expect. Thanks to Mr Lowis for being my peer reviewer!
  • It’s been a while since I’ve had a semi-functioning studio so I have invested in a new Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and got my old Tannoy reveals out of their boxes for the first time in 13 years. They still work! I’m still baffled / annoyed that my old Digidesign (now Avid) Mbox2 is no longer compatible with my mac. Basic audio hardware should last for a lot longer than it does. On the plus side the Scarlett comes with a few freebies that I’m looking forward to playing with in the coming months.
  • The next thing I need is a new midi controller. I’ve been using an M-Audio Pro Keys for years, but it’s a heavy brute of a thing and I need something a bit more bijou.
  • Returning to music production has been really soothing in these testing times and I’m leaning well into it.
  • I took an instagram picture every day in 2021 in an attempt to be more mindful. In the end I found it a bit of a chore tbh. Not one to repeat.
  • In other news, I volunteered and did some stewarding for the vaccine rollout again. This was good if quite complicated (first jab? second jab? booster? how long since your last ones? first ones in China? had covid in the last four weeks? or 12 weeks if you’re little?)
  • Managed some sort of normal Christmas with the family (by cancelling every single other social event since 7 Dec)
  • Didn’t get coronavirus in 2021. I’m pretty sure 2022 will be the year it happens.
  • Renumbered weeknotes. It was too faffy having them numbered by year. So it turns out this is number 59. Happy 59!
Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #58: emerging, blinking into the daylight

Bit of a break from this weeknotes lark, probably due to being able to leave the house a bit. Which is good, I think?

  • Went out out to see some theatre which was a bit mixed: Constellations (existential but quite thin) and Bach & Sons (beautifully staged but cringey writing)
  • Still extremely not cool with public spaces that are even slightly crowded. Enochlophobia is the latest flavour of covid anxiety.
  • So, still watching a ton of tele. Feel Good (bonkers), Chewing Gum (brilliant), King Gary (painful), The Night Manager (cheap Bond)…
  • Work is at its quietest for a little while (which is to say, still 3/4 days a week but enjoying having a little extra free time around the place for a while)
  • Went on a couple of micro-holidays! To the Cotswolds and to Margate! Got sunburn on both.
  • Started doing this Kygo course as a way to learn how to use Logic Pro again. It is ridiculous and quite fun. So far, I have learned in great detail
    • what a drop is (and how my understanding of pop song structure is stuck in the year 1999),
    • just how much better software samplers and synths have got in the last 15 years
    • just how capable my little computer and keyboard can be
    • the perils of peer-group interaction online and how to make a digital classroom feel as though there is a vibrant community in it (a challenge that the product and content teams faced a lot at FutureLearn)
  • Also been streaming quite a few Proms (Mozart’s last three symphonies were absolutely glorious), a bit of opera and also stumbled across this really fun RoH five-minute youth opera production from back in 2016, Watchers In The Wings.
  • The UK AIDS quilt was on display for two weekends only at Acorn House (former offices of Terrence Higgins Trust on Gray’s Inn Road, which is due to be demolished later this year). I actually didn’t know there had been a UK version of the enormous US quilt that ultimately covered the Mall in Washington DC in 1992. The UK equivalent, while smaller, still filled an entire 5-floor building and was absolutely overwhelming in every way. I’ve included some pictures below. It should be on permanent display.
Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #57: I’m coming home

A pretty hectic month all told between regular work and a secret (paid!) small music project that emerged sort of from nowhere.

  • It’s been great to sing again (socially distanced, of course) with big choir. But on Sunday someone tested positive and a bunch of us have been asked to self-isolate.
  • Which has meant a lot of time thinking about the bloody virus, again.
  • Staying at home is even harder when you can see thousands of people sitting next to each other at Wimbledon, or Wembley, for tennis or the Euros
  • But, even if the link between cases -> hospitalisations -> deaths has reduced, it isn’t broken yet, so I’m happy to stay home just in case.
  • Although, at some point we’re all basically going to get this thing. It’s seems unlikely we’ll reach herd immunity.
  • Second vaccine in six days’ time. Bring it on.
  • In the meantime, tidying and gardening and pottering. It ain’t so bad.
  • In other news, we finally got fibre installed. Hooray. Internet that is not absolutely terrible. So far I’ve used all this new bandwidth to run tests to tell me how much bandwidth I could be using.
  • The football is about to start so I’m going to go and maybe not watch it.

Some links that have been flowing into my notion recently:

The Hungarian government continues its anti-LGBT stance by banning queer content in schools and on TV, which worked so well for those of us who grew up under section 28 here. It’s 2021. Urgh.

Really enjoyed Lilting, by Monsoon director Hong Khaou.

A little bit obsessed with this downwind cart that travels faster than the wind propelling it.

Hubble is 31. 31! I remember when it became operational. And boy is it hard to keep a computer running in space. Hope the fixes work.

This document on organisational design for public sector by the state services authority in Victoria, Australia has been helpful to me in the last few weeks.

Category is: Weeknotes

Weeknotes #56: banishing the adrenaline

  • Went to see the family for the first time in 10 months. Went to the seaside. Walked along a pier. A seagull ate Dad’s ice cream. The sun came out. Normality. Slight relaxation.
  • On the way home, a push news alert about a spike in cases in the Llandudno area (which we had just left).
  • Great.
  • No-one has the ‘rona, thankfully.
  • My cousin had never heard of Acorn Antiques! I used this news as an excuse to go back and watch it in all its glory.
  • So I’ve been feeling pretty anxious the past couple of weeks and I’ve been trying to unpack why. I am currently picking “Let down syndrome” as the biggest culprit: adrenaline withdrawal.
  • After a long time of working on quite an intense programme of work at pace, I’m struggling to slow the pace down.
  • The symptoms of let-down effect:
    • a strong compulsion to be “doing something” while at home or on vacation
    • an obsession with thoughts about what remains undone
    • a feeling of vague guilt while resting
    • fidgeting, restlessness, pacing, leg kicking or fast gum chewing, and inability to concentrate for very long on any relaxing activity, feelings of irritability and aggravation
    • a vague (or somethings profound) feeling of depression whenever you stop an activity.
  • Strongly relating to these.
  • After a couple of lighter weeks, I’m trying to throw this energy back into exercise and hope the anxiety is just a phase as I adjust to a slightly more normal work pace. Otherwise I’m going to continue to be a pretty difficult person to be around.
  • Continuing to hoover Line of Duty. Arnott’s just grown a beard.
Category is: Weeknotes