Monday, October 24, 2011

It never rains, but it pours...

I have not posted anything on here for over a week, purely and simply because I have been too busy. Life of late has been a constant procession, from one happening to another. Picnics, parties, festivals, fairs, concerts, work, appointments; it has truly been one of the busiest months in recent memory. On Sunday night, when I cooked Emma and I a simple pasta dish for dinner, we realised that it was the first evening in the last few weeks where we shared a meal together, unaccompanied and at home.

This month of frantic activity reached it's zenith last week, when I found myself attending celebrations to mark not one, but three birthdays (all of them lovely), as well as two music festivals, the record fair, a job interview and the Hindu festival of Diwali in the space of four days. It was a mad time, both enjoyable and exhausting. I now find myself tired and somewhat glad to have a relatively quiet week, but at the same time I worry I may find myself a little bored today, as I enjoy the most recent additions to my record collection and take advantage opportunity the pleasant spring weather offers to catch up on the laundry.

Of course, none of this is helped by the fact that I am waiting, fairly anxiously, to hear news of my recent job interview. My phone and the remote for the stereo are presently colocated at my right hand, lined up quite neatly with my computer mouse. I busy myself with housework and sit at the computer, sipping at a large cup of strong herbal tea, a tightly knotted ball of tension and anxiety; it is a decidedly pathetic picture.

Having said that I can't complain too much, I have the radio show tonight and work tomorrow to keep me occupied, and during my very long weekend (6 days this week) I have a gig to attend (Night Hag/Bronze Chariot/Heirs/Alcest... a truly incredible line up) and I have my first political party AGM to attend, having recently bitten the bullet and joined Dignity 4 Disability, after 3 years working in disability support services and living day to day with the myriad difficulties and disappointments in that industry.

Sometime this week I should also get online and make my final selection for my large birthday present. I have been planning for some time to get a new distortion pedal, most likely a Tym Guitars Red Mudd, and had asked my family for money to fund this purchase. I've been writing a lot of music again lately and taking the first very tentative steps to maybe get the band back together again, or maybe start something new, so a new, high quality guitar pedal makes sense at the moment. Whether or not it will prove to be a massive white elephant only time can tell.

I shall leave it there I think, because I think I just heard the washing machine beep. I'll see you all somewhere out in the real world, real soon. Probably.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Second verse, same as the first...

Today I'm trying not to avoid finishing draft job applications. It's pretty hard though, the job and person specifications for the things I'm going for are so uniform and identical that it's difficult to think of ways to rephrase the same thing over and over again. Well, it was difficult, when that was still what I was doing. I've now sort of compiled one job generic application containing my best answers to all the questions everyone asks that I can reword and modify before banging out answers to the two or three unique questions they throw in to make sure you're paying attention and emailing it away, over the churning waterfalls, off the edge of the world, into the endless abyss. Or something.

I've been doing rather a lot of this lately, and have now reached the worst point in the whole process, the part where your fate is in "their" hands (you know, THEM). Every phone call from a private number is greeted by a blurting, jittery, twitching mess. Logging into my "professional sounding" email address has started to resemble an action film sequence, wherein your hero sweats bullets whilst defusing a bomb, only in this version he's very disappointed at the end when nothing happens. It's like some weird splicing of The Hurt Locker and Marvin the Martian.

It probably doesn't help that my birthday is rapidly approaching, a fact I only recently realised, which is concerning as it's not just my birthday, but also my sister's. This year my birthday is a doubly significant anniversary, as it also marks one year since I was admitted to practice. That's right, I've "been a lawyer" for almost a year now. That fact, taken along with my failure to break into my career in any lasting way, and my hastening progress towards 30 has me in a decidedly weird mood; an emotional state compounded by my numerous (and very boring) anxieties.

I shall not dwell on this any longer, as it is one of a growing number of things at the moment that seems to bring on a strange sort of chest pain. I find this quite uncomfortable, and a little disturbing, though I have chosen to dismiss it as a previously unexperienced emotional response. I presume (or at the very least, hope) that the difficulty is existential rather than cardiovascular, though it makes little difference really. Either way, the matter shall resolve itself, and in any event in the long term the outcome is the same.

Anyway, enough of that depressing stuff. I feel compelled to give a quick rundown on how my new adventures in trying to use facebook less are going (Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer...). I have so far managed the transition quite well, pestering my friends from afar via my newly linked twitter account, bashing out my rants on this blog and only using facebook for the things that it is actually good at doing. On a recent snoop about to check on comments I noticed that the Notes app has not been importing blog posts from my RSS feed as it should, and that only the very first post has appeared. I shall have to log in at some point and try to remedy this, if only to further avoid looking at my many job applications.

Outside of my apparently stalled career things have actually been going very well of late. I have achieved many of the things I set out to do in my first post, and am generally finding the more active, productive and imaginative use of my leisure time to be extremely enjoyable. The radio show has been excellent, giving Emma and I a shared hobby and an opportunity to share our great love of music with others. New friendships have brought me a great deal of joy, as has a strengthening of old ties.

Another thing that has been wonderful is breaking away from this computer and really enjoying evenings out again. I am out and about at gigs and things most weekends, having a great time and amassing a vast treasure trove of demos and EPs. I am glad to be back in the thick of it again, as I sort of dropped out for a while there, when I was a little fragile after making my big decision and committing to the straight edge lifestyle. It's coming up on 8 months now, and as Emma pointed last night, this is my first birthday without drink or drugs in a very long time. There are, I suppose (and grudgingly concede), some things to be cheerful about this birthday.

I will leave you with an odd thought I had last night, shortly before I fell asleep, on the topic of casual swearing (a subject very close to my heart). What is it that makes some words worse than others? Many obscenities are colloquialisms for the male and female sexual organs. There is one word, I presume you all know which one, that is considered far and away the worst, many regard it as unusable. Why is that? There are many curse words for that very same anatomical feature that people feel quite comfortable using in polite company, even in front of children. They are not beeped out on television or radio. Wherein lies the terrible power of the c word? Any thoughts?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Yeah, it hurts a little...

So yes, for those of you who didn't see me in real life this week or spot the photo on facebook, I have a new tattoo. I'd be wanting this one for quite a while and on Tuesday I bit the bullet and once again submitted my flesh to the buzzing gun of my good friend Rohan from Jetty Road Tattoo Studio.

The tattoo is of Hopey from Jaime Hernandez' Locas storyline in the iconic comic book series Love and Rockets. The design is based on the back cover of issue 6, which features an amazing image of Hopey and Terry's band Jerusalem Crickets. I think the final result is pretty great and will look amazing when the redness goes down.

I had a very busy working week, at both my regular job and my lovely temp gig. Tuesday was my only day off and I spent a decent chunk of that getting my tattoo done and presenting the most stressful episode of the radio show to date. The studio's internet died completely, which left us without the ability to fact check, get up to date weather info, use social media and worst of all, stream the show online.

This was particularly galling as it was probably our best show to date, and virtually none of our listeners could hear it. Luckily our programming director has copied the studio's recording of it and so for us to share. I'll pop links to the podcasts up on here when they're all set up.

Speaking of radio things, I'll be at the Semaphore Music Festival on Sunday, handing out fliers and trying to sign up new members at the WoWfm stall from mid afternoon onwards. It would be great if people could come along and say hello, punch me in the mouth, or observe me from a great distance through a powerful telescope. You could also check out the great music and buy heaps of rad stuff at the record fair. Or not. I'm a blogger, not a cop.

Insanely my rotating roster has delivered me 5 days off; the October long weekend plus Tuesday and Wednesday. This is freaking incredible, because it comes when I need it most. I have 2 massive job applications to finish by close of business Friday, so the opportunity to spend 2 full days on the computer honing them is awesome. They are going to be two seriously shiny, well polished, glitter encrusted turds.

Hopefully that'll help, because I need a job where I can use my degree. Badly. I love the job I have now, but temping has given me a glimmer of what could be a really great career, which is something I don't really have right now. In the USSR they used to talk about people "seeing the west"; going outside of the controlled environment of the soviet union and seeing how other people actually live. Apparently it fucking ruined them. They couldn't go back to living how they normally did. I'm feeling a little bit of that at the moment. Not in a big way, just a little nagging burr, niggling at me. Like a faint shadow looming in my periphery vision.

That's some pretty gloomy shit. Sorry. I'm really not a miserable person. I think my posts tend to go this way because I usually type them when I come off night shift. Em is sleeping in and I am rattling away in the silence of our dimly lit lounge room. I've come straight off a 24 hour shift where I didn't sleep too well, but I've been awake since 5 so tired as I am, I'm too awake to sleep.

I am actually feeling pretty positive at the moment, not so much about things as they are, but about the future. I see a lot of potential for really great things if we're willing to be just a little bit brave, to show the tiniest hint of creativity and to stand up for what we know is right. So I joined a political party, in much the same way as I started this blog (filling in a form on the internet) and for precisely the same reason (to stop complaining about things and actually do something about them).

But that's a story for another post, and I'm starting to get seriously hungry. I think it's time for some breakfast, I've got a pretty busy day lined up.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Do all of the things.

It's been (and continues to be) a pretty busy weekend.

Em and I have spent a lot of time so far has been spent planning and putting together our radio show for Tuesday night. We spent Saturday morning each selecting and whittling down our 50 - 55 minutes of music from our vast music library. Once we got our tracks together we did a quick show and tell about our selections before heading off into town. Last night when we got home we got stuck into the serious work of trying to turn the mess created by our broad and disparate musical tastes into 2 hours of vaguely listenable radio. I'm really pleased with the results this week and am looking forward to doing the show on Tuesday night. This morning I normalised the audio and burnt off the two CDs we use to cross-fade back and forth between tracks. I've still got a little work to do on that getting the running sheet organised but we're basically done and dusted and ready to get in the studio and do it live.

In between our radio preparation tasks we managed to squeeze in a pretty great Saturday afternoon in town. We kicked things off with a delicious lunch at one of my favourite vego/vegan eateries, Zenhouse, before enjoying a very successful afternoon of record and CD collecting at Clarity Records and Title. Then we headed over to the Crown and Anchor Hotel to check out the Rockabilly Rumble with Seb and Lauren.

Today I've got a fairly quiet morning but I'm going to check out a friend's experimental music gig at the Gallery of South Australia's Saatchi Exhibition and later
I'm going to see some great doom and post-rock bands at the Squatter's Arms.

Things don't look like letting up during the week either, with work at one job or another every day (and some nights) except Tuesday, when I've got a big morning lined up (that's a story for another post) and then the radio show in the evening.

And then we're into the mad, mad month of October with The Semaphore Music Festival, Doomsday Festival, Bastardfest, a million gigs and a billion birthdays (including my own). Fucking hell. No rest for the wicked.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Tyranny of Convenience

The most recent facebook update really pissed me off. A lot. My immediate reaction was to lash out and complain about how a service that I used for everything and relied on everyday had suddenly changed in a way that I found very detrimental. Now, having chewed over things a bit, I'm glad facebook has changed, because it's helped me to realise that there's a big problem with facebook that has nothing to do with the most recent set of changes to its appearance and functionality.

To be fair though, it's not really a problem with facebook. It's a problem with us; the users. We've let facebook become too big a part of our lives. We've allowed the convenience of a website that does everything, and is used by everyone, to make us lazy and a bit stupid.

Facebook is just a website; a website that does a few things very well and a lot of things very poorly. It is, for example, a very good organising and promotion tool, allowing us to invite huge numbers of people to an event or make them aware of a product or service. It is, on the other hand, not very good at photography. There are many websites that do this better, allowing us to upload high quality images and edit and share them, while protecting our privacy and copyright. We use facebook for photos though, because it is an easy, convenient way to share our pictures with large numbers of people. When facebook is concerned, convenience trumps quality, and we allow it to handle aspects of our lives that other websites do better purely because it's easier to let facebook do everything in one simple step than it is to figure out how to do it ourselves.

When the new update made facebook less easy and convenient for me to use, the illusion was shattered. As soon as the convenience of facebook diminished, it became apparent to me that it actually wasn't really worth getting upset about. Facebook wasn't really any better or worse than it already was. Sure the new layout sucks and it's hard to navigate, but I quickly realised that the real problem was me. I was a fucking idiot, because I had let myself become too reliant on facebook.

So I thought about deleting my account, but there were too many reasons to keep it. Promoting my radio show, organising my social calender, sharing pictures on the fly, keeping in touch with some people I can't realistically contact any other way; facebook is still useful for these things, and giving up these things because of facebook's many failings would really just be cutting off my nose to spite my face.

I was washing the dishes at work yesterday when I had a much better idea. Instead of deleting my facebook account I would try to use facebook the way I did when it was new.

I decided to only use facebook for things that it was actually good at doing. I'm going to use the internet more intelligently, and seek out the best ways of doing things, rather than relying on the convenience of facebook. Right now I'm typing a post on my new blog. I've linked my new blog's RSS feed to the Notes app on facebook. Now I can share my ideas and my writing with all of my friends on facebook without having to log into facebook. I've done the same thing with my twitter account, which means I can post status updates, links, pictures and videos to my wall without ever having to log into facebook. I can do lots of the things I normally do on facebook, using better services, with better interfaces, and still gain all the benefits that facebook offers.

I decided to not check facebook every 15 minutes, or to sit on it all night. You know why? Because it's fucking sad. I never realised I did this until the new update made it difficult and less enjoyable. I'm going to go out there into the world and do some fucking awesome shit, and I'm going to do a lot of casual swearing while I'm doing it. I'm going to watch movies, see bands, spend time with my friends, go skateboarding, swim in the ocean, walk through a forest and then I'm going to come back home and type up a blog post about it and you can read about it on facebook and then maybe come here and read some more and leave a comment.

I decided that there were a lot of things that I didn't even really need to use the internet for at all. Recently, before all this facebook crap, a friend and I decided that we would write each other letters. A long time ago I used to write letters and I am sad that I ever stopped, because doing it again has reminded me of a fact that I had forgotten for some time. Letters are fucking awesome. There's no character limit and you can attach what ever you like to them and as a general rule nobody sells them to advertising companies.

They make you better at writing. They make you think about things a little more deeply. Also, receiving them is awesome, it's a wonderful thing to go out to your letterbox and find something other than hardware catalogs and your gas bill in there, and know that someone cares about you enough to take the time to write you a letter. I would rather receive one letter than a million wall posts. If you want to receive a letter, email me your postal address and I will send you one.

Well now it's time to see how this whole experiment goes. Hopefully I can follow through on these decisions and start enjoying my life a lot more. I'm looking forward to typing a lot more blog posts, about things that are better and more interesting than facebook.