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Weeknotes #7

It is time for a long overdue edition of the Weeknotes. Life and my newly found extensive journaling habit have kept me from sitting down and actually writing the Weeknotes even though I had enjoyed writing them. Yes, all six of them :-)

To keep things reasonably short I will limit myself to the last or so week.

Twenty Twenty Theme

On the blog the biggest change was of course my switch over to the new default theme Twenty Twenty this week. At some point in the past I decided to rather stick to the default themes, instead of obsessively try all available themes and tweak them to my needs, or to what I think my needs to be.

I have been adjusting this theme only a little bit (it is probably a record) and so far like it a lot and I finally managed to get in the features and design that I had been looking for with only minimal adjustments. All this had been possible thanks to Gutenberg and I’m rather satisfied and the possibilities of this setup.

There are still a few bugs in the theme which are out of my control to fix (the menu and search box on mobile and select browsers) and some inconsistencies that I have introduced myself and will fix over time. Here mostly the fonts on Android.

As far as I can tell, even though being at version 10 (?), Android still has no other native fonts than the Droid family, making the design looking less nice on Android, something that I don’t like. Via WordPress.com I therefore switched to the font Chaparral which is close enough to the theme’s native font and doesn’t require any extra adjustments in CSS. Something simple for a change.

Handwriting

One of the biggest changes for me this year, had been my re-found interest to write by hand.

Despite countless drawbacks, challenges and frustrations my handwriting is slowly improving. Even though I’m still not satisfied I am by now able to write rather long stretches of time without strain on hand or arm, and with a more or less consistent quality, even though “quality” is relative.

Writing by hand had a profound influence in my life and what I have learned during this time, I might put at some point into a separate post.

Reading

I have published the other day already the list of books that I read during the last weeks and currently I read mostly short-stories. Here I switch authors/themes depending on mood and therefore don’t “finish” that many books.

The books that I’m currently reading though are:

  • Neil Gaiman: Neverwhere (Re-Read)
  • The New Annotated Lovecraft
  • John Crowley: Novelties and Souvenirs
  • Richard Matheson: Nightmares at 20000 feet
  • Alan Moore: The Bojeffries Saga

Watched

I hardly watch anything anymore. That little time I have I tend to spent otherwise. Mostly reading or writing in one way or the other. ;Naturally I’m looking forward to the next and final Star Wars episode. Of course…

I guess that might be it for the moment. The next edition of these posts, will tell whether or not this turned out to be a one-off.

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Weeknotes #6

The vacation time around here, brings it with that not so much is happening of course. One major thing would be my move back to WordPress. I have written about my reasoning behind it already, but so far I still think it was a good choice, especially since it seems that I can built the front-page that I have in mind now. Still needs some more work and some bug-fixing on the WordPress side.

Reading

Due to the lack of commute during the vacation, I don’t get that much audio-book reading done. During the last weeks I read the Terry Pratchett’s “The Colour of Magic“, Ray Bradbury’s “Zen in the art of Writing” and am currently reading Yuval Norah Harari’s “Homo Deus” and every evening Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman”. The latter is interesting since I haven’t seriously read any comic or graphic novel in a while.

Also, that just while I wrote this a post on Tor.com wrote about a possible series on Netflix of the Sandman novels which is certainly interesting. Let’s see what happens first: the series coming out or me having finished it.

Handwriting

I have a somewhat lengthy write-up coming up on my efforts to improve my handwriting, but one thing that I can say already, is that it is improving. But more in that post, which I, of course, write by hand. On a site-note I realize that writing by hand is surprisingly expensive if one wants to use nice tools as well. But that’s another story.

Movies watched

In terms of watched-movies this month, it is my summer vacation after all, was better than any of the previous ones. I have been mostly on a horror-movie binge at the moment watched four and a half movies so far. Spiderman- Homecoming, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, The Badabook (or such) and currently am somewhere in the middle of Justice League, bu I don‘t think I will ever make it to the second half though.

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Weeknotes #5

Another more of a fortnightly edition

Truth to be told, vacation has started and there is not much going on in the first place, so I guess this will be rather short.

During the last few weeks I have continued working on improving my handwriting, and while I still don’t feel comfortable showing off something, it is at least improving.

I have located a few issues in my cursive, such as an inconsistent slant, (or better, as in the beginning, the utter lack thereof) and have focused on that for a while. Also the character sizes are not consistent either at all times. Suffice to say it is getting better.

Related to handwriting is also, that I have acquainted myself more with the usage and feel of the “Bullet Journal”. I’m totally getting the hang of it and I have set it up nicely already. It’s all in a simple style organized, not over the top with drawings or stuff, just text. I have some ideas how to make it work for me even better, but that still requires more testing still.

That being said, this is all much easier now that there is not much to do in the first place, the real test will come up in autumn when I’m back at work. So far though I’m having a mildly optimistic feeling about this.

Reading list – The Books

I already posted them but for the sake of summary:

  • Cal Newport: Digital Minimalism
  • James Clear: Atomic Habits
  • Adam Savage: Every Tool’s A Hammer
  • Jeffrey Konvitz: The Sentinel
  • Jeffrey Konvitz: The Guardian

During the evening I started:

  • Terry Pratchett: The Color Of Magic

Some interesting articles that I ran into

The Solitary Garden on Kottke looks nice and interesting. I’m 100% bad with plants but this looks like something that could be achieved even by me. Also via Kottke came in the completely digitized version Leonardo DaVinci’s notebook, known as the Codex Atlanticus. Talking about keeping a notebook…

A comic about John Coltrane!? This looks like something that is just right for me.

This Star Wars Lego robot set sure is interesting and I really would like to purchase this Lego Moonlander. And yes, did I mention I’m bad with plants? This bonsai is just what I need. I kind of hope this idea makes it up to the end. If there just would be enough space to put them to.

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Weeknotes #4

Since last week’s Weeknotes was amiss, this is more of a two weeks’ note. Truth is, not much had happened in the previous week and I had been rather busy, hence I kept things short during that week.

A few weeks’ ago, I planned to improve my handwriting skills, and I managed to make some progress on that part, which considered my departure place seemed rather easy. I thought to try out a Bullet Journal and also move my “Quote Collection” and stuff over to a handwritten collection.

The Bullet Journal things seems fun, but also rather labour-intensive. At this point it is still too new to me to say whether it works or not. What is nice though, is to use pen and paper. Turns out I like not-staring at a screen to get some stuff done for a while.

Also, and here’s a sentence I wouldn’t have used a month ago: I have a favourite notebook, I like the Leuchtturm 1917 much much more than a Moleskine, and a preferred ink color (Blue).

But this is all an experiment still, so let’s see where this will lead me to. Using pen and paper though, is by no-means cheaper than anything digital. Good notebooks are expensive, good pens are too.

Work

This is easy. Holiday is getting closer and there are only a few major things going up during the next week and then the school year should be wrapped up.

Reading

During this week I started reading “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. It is a great book and there are a lot of interesting things in there for me.

Interesting things

Things watched

This is easy: nothing, zilch, zero. No time for that.

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Weeknotes #3

This weeks’ Weeknotes are going to be much shorter than last weeks. It was a rather busy week though

Things Watched

During this week I managed to watch one thing. As a celebration of May the 4th we re-watched “Rogue One” the other day. But that was it.

Audiobook/Podcasts

I had been on a binge and listened through the “Themis Files” (1-3) and then continued with Neil Gaimans “The Graveyard Book” which I finished just a few minutes ago. It’s a great book.

There are books that I finish and can continue with the next one, and there are books that leave some sort of emptiness when it’s over. “The Graveyard Book” is one of the latter. One gets so entrenched in the story, in the world the story takes place in, that it feels sad to go out of it. Well, I could read it again of course.

And because I was going through these books, I had only limited time to listen to podcasts. The Neil Gaiman interview on the Tim Ferris Show though was great. Even though it is not a new episode. But I already wrote about that.

Talking about writing…

Epiphany of week

Here a few things happened at the same time.

First, I listened to said Neil Gaiman interview, which for whatever reason got me interested into fountain pens and doing more writing by hand. Shortly thereafter, I had to sign a few papers and had to realize, how bad of a handwriting I have.

I admit, this was no new information.

I had very, very, not good whatsoever, hand-writing since my schooldays. I never really mastered to write in script/longhand(?) and switched early to print. Neither version looked good in any way and was both painful to do and to look at.

When I looked at the scribbles on the paper, I decided that I’m done with it, and that I should do something about that. I finally took my Everlast notebook to good use, and did what I obviously didn’t do during my time in school and started to practice my handwriting.

I have now every day since “practiced” for about 20min since then. It still looks crap, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise, but maybe there is hope.

Anyway, I did also order a fountain pen and a notebook. I don’t what to put in there, but I sure hope, it’s at least going to look a bit better, than anything that I could have written last week.

The Chain

And so it goes, that I broke the chain. I thought I could get this post out before midnight. So the longest streak on this blog would be 154 days. Well there will be then two posts today.

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Weekly-Bits #2

The beginning of the week was a bit busy but I got some work done and currently I’m up in the north again for some concerts with the students. This turns out to be surprisingly less stressful. Since the concerts don’t start before 11pm there is not much to do during the day time.

So I’m mostly using the time to take a walk, to catch up with some reading and do some writing (obviously). If I could, I would be doing some downhill skiing, which still is possible up here.

Things Watched

Historically I have very little time during a normal week and hardly ever find enough time, or are too exhausted, to watch something. During this week though I at least managed to watch Into the Spiderverse, which was fun and I enjoyed this movie. There were moments I even forgot this is an animated movie.

Podcasts

According to my log I listened to 10 shows this week, the one on Rationalization on You Are Not That Smart and Stephen Fry’s Great Leap Years stood out again.

Blog

I did some updates to the Archive and About page. Also introduced header images (as you might have noticed already). I kind of like the faux-painted look which also gives me the possibility to re-use images that I took a long time ago.

Also I adjusted my theme with a bit of help from David of Blot.im which enables me to add some different styling for certain kind of posts. I have some ideas for quote-posts which I now finally might be able to get done.

I also figured that I can add a JSON-feed to this blog which I will try add that during the next week.

Reading

Just the other day I finished James S.A. Corey’s “Tiamat’s Wrath” and after looking around I decided to continue the audiobook version of Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants. By the time of this writing I’m about halfway in and really like it. It like the way the book works. It’s more or less a collection of reports, similar to World Way Z.

My first idea was to start The Three Body Problem, but it’s again a series and I was looking for something that I can get through this weekend maybe.

Update: finished the book early in the morning and didn’t realize that it is also the first part in a series. So, now I’m continuing with the next book in the series: Waking Gods.

During the week there were a few articles that I ran into, these were the ones that stood out for me:

  • On Monday the 1959 Project wrote about the recording of Miles Davis’s legendary Kind Of Blue, which also feature some very nice photographs.
  • Open Culture linked to a Medievel City Plan Generator. I really have no need for something like this, but it’s fun nonetheless. Also the history of How British Codebreaker Built the First Electronic Computer is very interesting.
  • Marc Myers on Jazz Wax had an article on John Grass a French Horn player from the east coast who took great part in shaping the Cool Jazz sound (listening to one of the recording as I write this). Also he posted a piece on Quincy Jones in Paris 1960, which is very interesting. I am familiar with Quincy’s biography and read about the Europe tour then, which is very interesting stuff. Also I had the pleasure to play some of the arrangements from that tour, and saw a copy of one of the original scores from Quincy, with handwritten notes and such.
  • Lego has some specials coming out for May the Forth. This one already looks like a piece that could be nice looking on the desk that I don’t have. I’m kind of curious what else there are going to come up with.
  • The folks on iA had an interesting article on Music in Writing. It’s quite the essay, and I still have to get through it. Which reminds that I should eventually finish the piece on improvisation and language that I started a while ago.
  • Manton has a short summary what is wrong with the whole Luminary thing. One thing I noticed that they obviously don’t realize that there is a difference between a podcast app and a service. The app let’s me choose and pick what I’m listening to, directly from the producer of the source. Just like the RSS-reader enables me to that with blogs. The last thing anyone needs, is the Netflix for podcasts. Podcasts are already there, freely available and certainly don’t need a “Netflix”. If you want to do something that helps podcasts and blogs,ie the open web, build a search-engine for blogs and podcasts.

And now off into the next week.

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Weekly Bits #1

Recently I learned about the idea of Weeknotes which sounded intrigueing enough to give it a try

It’s a bit crazy right now. It’s getting warmer every day (which is great) it also feels earlier than in the recent years, even though the average temperature is 5 degrees celsius (according to Wolfram Alpha) and today it was only mildly warmer. But who cares.

Anyway, it’s going on steadily towards Summer vacation and during the last week I already had been sending a few (more) students to their holidays. At least from their saxophone lessons. I guess both parties will enjoy an extra portion of free time.

Talking about free time… Blogging-wise I have kept up my streak and am now at 142 days, which is needless to say, an absolute record for me. To be honest, I’m getting a bit tired of it, which I guess, is normal, but also a sign of lack of planning.

Often I find myself having too much to do during the day, that I don’t find the time to write something, or if there’s time, lacking an inspiration or idea. At least on the planning part I can easily work, the idea part though is something else, but then again, that’s part of the exercise.

And since I talk about time: catching up with my podcast backlog I realized a lot people talking about time tracking, which made me wonder whether it would be worth trying that. In the past I very infrequently tried to log how much time I spent writing arrangements, but it was a rather half-assed approach and didn’t give me any other insights than that I started something and then most likely forgot to end the timer. I will have to debate with myself about that.

One thing that I could do to be more consistent, should I be doing the time-tracking thingy, is to build (or use ready-made) Siri-Shortcuts on which I rely more and more. I have now a bunch of Shortcuts that I use daily and also added a few evoked by voice commands.

The latter has gotten a lot better since the last time I used Siri, and is a huge help for me. Usually when I’m out and about, I tend to leave (aka forget) my reading-glasses at home, which makes using the phone, or a phone, independent of size rather difficult. With the new Shortcuts I get reliably what I want. Wich is neat.

And neat is also that I just a few minutes ago, I finished to build that Shortcut that I always wanted, to log the podcasts that I’m listening to. It now works via voice command (need this) and I don’t have to unlock the phone. The latter was only possible because I used the Notes.app. I would have wanted to use Drafts, which has become my go-to-editor, but for that to happen I would need to unlock the phone to finish the Shortcut. Which kind-of defeats the point.

I guess the same could be achieved also with Evernote, but I’m glad that I’m already off the app, and don’t want to go down that route again. So, for this purpose I will stick with Notes.app

Podcasts

Looking at the log, I have listened to 16 shows. I have been bingeing a bit on Stephen Fry’s Great Leap Years and Ologies, here the Hagfish episode and the Cosmology episode which I currently listen stood out.

Some Stats:

According to Screentime I have used the iPad on average 4h 51m a day and the phone 1h 26m. Which kind of makes sense since I mostly work on the iPad.

Among the top apps on the phone are my RSS-Reader Iire, Safari, Overcast, What’s App and Bear, iReal Pro, Brushstroke, Safari and Drafts and Reeder.

Brushstroke I used to create the header images, such as in this post.

But now I will finally watch The Spiderverse thingy.