I’m impressed with myself that I’ve managed to keep this a secret for 12 days, publicly anyway. I’ve told 3 people (hi) but I’d be surprised if this has yet to become a daily read for anyone since it’s just me trying to get in the habit for the most part. I’ve struck a fun balance between resisting the urge to talk about it and trying to tell people but they aren’t paying attention so it just goes right over their head and they don’t have any idea what I was saying. So in that way it’s kind of amusing. I think I need to figure out the actual purpose of this before I bother telling anyone and certainly before anyone cares. I’ve been really good about carrying around my notebook for quick ideas to write about later but less good at actually writing those ideas down. Maybe I’ll tie these together and try to make my morningly posts a quick summary of some of the sparks from the previous day.
My kid is learning to swim in 8 days. Start to finish. It’s a program that promises as much. He’s already very comfortable in the water and has spent lots of time in the pol but at 4 years old is still wearing a life vest in the water and sticking to the shallow end. In 4 days of this program he’s already jumping off the diving board and swimming to the bottom of the pool to pick up toys. The program presents him with small steps and then builds on them and it ends up being about confidence more than anything. Last night I was talking with a friend yesterday about the junior lifeguard program her daughter is in and the qualifications and training the kids are going through, I joked that it sounded like Navy Seal training for 16 year olds. She responded that their instructors are Seals.
This is a recurring thread with training, give people crazy challenges they didn’t know they could do as if they are no big deal, then when they complete them they will have the confidence to pull off the normal stuff they are faced with day to day. This may be useful for self conditioning as well, though I wonder if knowing ahead of time what you are doing defeats the point.
There’s maps for everything these days. An accepted way things are done. Enough people have gone before that there are big clear signs for everyone that follows – do things this way, expect these results, this is what success looks like. It’s not frequent that you see someone ignoring those signs, and even less that you have a chance to ignore them yourself. But think about the early adventurers, the ones in the history books. The ones who counted the seas and discovered never before seen lands. These were not people following maps, these were people discarding the existing maps and going out on their own to see what they might find – betting that the expectations everyone had could be challenged, destroyed. Joi talks about “compasses over maps” as a guide. Being able to change direction is key, and find it again even more so. Maps lock you into expectation of outcome. Finding something new is the magic.
The band project is complicated and disjointed in all the right ways, with many tentacles going about their own business while only vaguely touching base with the central nervous system. This works and things get done quite well because everyone is connected and there is a common goal or whatever that means. But every once and a while everything lines up and acts with a similar purpose with a concrete direction and that shit is like magic. Yesterday all four of us spent 6 hours in the studio running through the live show again and again. We’ve not all done that together thus far and it magic to see all the individual parts we’ve been building coming together so perfectly. I can’t wait to unleash this to the world.
If I had to pick out two of the most exciting moments in my life, when I felt completely alive, when I’d truly found my happy place it would be easy. The first was in 1993 in Gainesville, Florida – for no reason in particular a firework war had broken out between the punk house I was staying at (and would later move into) and a rival punk house half a block away. This was not the “throw a pack of firecrackers at someone’s feet and run away” firework warfare I was used to growing up in Florida and Texas, this was an all out assault. People were chasing each other down the street with roman candles, bottle rockets were flying in every direction, m80’s being chucked blindly in any open window and home made gunpowder pressure bombs sending shockwaves a block over. The smoke in the street was so thick you’d choke and if you could see 5 feet in front of you you were lucky. That might have been the moment when I decided I had to live in that house. A few years later, living in Chicago, I somehow ended up downtown when the Chicago Bull’s won yet another championship and the streets were full of people celebrating. Of course by celebrating I mean lighting trash cans on fire and throwing them into the streets, flipping cars, glass bottle exploding into walls left and right. All the friends I was with at the time took off but I hung back and just walked around for hours surrounded by the chaos. I couldn’t soak in enough of it, and I knew it would be gone the next day. The streets of Berlin just past midnight on New Years is a very close third.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I like fireworks.
After many efforts and attempts I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m terrible at reading minds and equally bad at projecting my unspoken thoughts out into other people’s heads. It appears that, for now at least, actually speaking these thoughts and intentions is still the best way to convey them from one person to another. Initially I was frustrated by this but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I’m not the only one in this predicament. So there’s that.
I’m amassing quite the collection of noise makers and while that could be an analogy for any number of things in this case I’m talking about actual noise makers. Weird electronic devices that spit out bleeps and boops and static. Each one on it’s own is mildly amusing for a few minutes, but I’ve got this weird idea that I can somehow run them all together in some chaotic daisy chain and make something interesting. I keep running into cabling problems. One device will only work with a mono cable, another only with stereo. Half of them are 1/4 plugs, the other 1/8. Only 2 of them have inputs, the rest are all out only. I bought a 4 channel mixer to try and handle some of that but that only has 1/4 plug inputs. What I’m left with at the moment is a bunch of random noise, which isn’t surprising given what I’m starting with. I keep hoping to pull something else out of it, though I’m not sure how I’d recreate that if I did. It’s for the band I keep telling myself, though I might be the only one in the band that feels that way.
See what I mean that this could be an analogy for anything.
Just about everytime I send out one of my email newsletters I lose a few subscribers. I don’t know if that’s a result of repeated failed delivery attempts that some automated system finally caps out on and boots them or someone who got the email and thought “oh this guy’s worthless crap again why did I ever subscribe to this, I need to get off this list” or maybe even someone having such a negative reaction to something I write that they unsubscribe immediately. Or maybe it’s none of those, but the fact remains as soon as I hit send I know some people on the list are going to disappear. Over the next 24-48 hours I typically add several more subscribers probably from people telling their friends or something so at the end of the day, by the time I get ready to send out the next letter a few days later the list is larger than it was before the previous people took off. I mentioned some of this on twitter yesterday in a bit of a joke and some people commented that I was better off without the folks who left – which may be true, but is honestly not something I tend to care about. When I first started generating lots of content online and putting it out for people – late 90’s or so – I ran headlong into the “making content for readers” problem. I was constantly stressing about what the audience wanted and what would help up my numbers and traffic and how to make more people happy. Which is impossible and a huge waste of time, and also results in being stressed and miserable. And I gave up on that rather quickly, I much prefer to put out things I’m happy with and that are interesting to me and see who that attracts, and if that happens to be 10s of people, or 100s of people or in some cases 1000s of people that’s great, but since I’m not really a content generator for a living this isn’t something I really worry about much. I’d rather have 100 people who genuinely dig my approach than 1000 people who are potentially annoyed and disengaged because they want me to be doing something else, or worse 10000 people who into things that I’m not into but I talked about just to try and get more people to pay attention and agree with me.
I’ll probably expand on this is a later and longer post but wanted to get a little of it down while it was on my mind.
I was listening to Ann’s podcast last night and she was talking about cultural literacy and particularly about Ta-Nehisi’s epic article about reparations and she mentioned an amusing WNYC piece about how to tell if someone had read this article or not, based in what they were talking about in regards to it. It seems, perhaps unsurprisingly that given the length of the piece and the politically charged issue it’s tacking, that a lot of people read the title and a few lines of the intro then walked away but this didn’t prevent them from spouting off in public with all kinds of opinions about the piece and critiquing the conclusions it came to – though often these people are critiquing the wrong conclusions because they didn’t actually read it. This lead to a further discussion about how often, in their race to be first, many journalists and commentators around the web will send out links to articles they haven’t read past the headline. And in many cases they never go back and read them, but will reference them later as if they had. So it’s a good thing that headlines are never misleading.
This got me thinking about a story in which some of the major players communicate through hidden messages buried late in long drawn our pieces published with incredibly boring titles. The secret messages not even being coded or disguised in anyway, just tacked on so late in an eye bleedingly boring story that no one other than the intended recipient would ever bother reading that far.
I was killing some time in a nearby record store yesterday when the conversation the owner was having with another customer made it’s way to a fairly common rumor about a friend of a friend. More than just a friend of a friend, the outright best friend of a close friend of mine for over 15 years – so I have some perspective on this. I’m friendly enough with the owner that I didn’t feel too bad about jumping in to point out that I was quite certain that this rumor wasn’t true. There was some is to/is not for a while while each of us casually suggested to the other that we had fist hand knowledge to back up our statements. No names were dropped by anyone but I shifted the discussion “so what?” because honestly this rumor is nothing about this person’s character, in this might be the most untarnished and widely recognized as a honest and stand up guy in an entire scene. Someone who across the board everyone agrees this guy has tried to do the right thing from day one, and been fairly successful at it. There are no stories about deals gone bad, no stories about backs being stabbed. So it’s interesting to me that absent anything negative to say about him personally it’s almost as if the world can’t handle it – how can there be a guy with no dirt at all – and generates orbiting crap that can be linked to him. This is intentionally vague of course, but it made me think about balance and reputations and how these things all fit together.