Thought provoking social commentary, stories and technological adventures.

An Open System Of Being [143]

Greetings from my shed...

You’re back‽

It’s much appreciated. I still enjoy writing this. I hope you still enjoy reading.

Weirdly, the more I withdraw from other social channels the bigger the world seems to get. Especially its minutiae.

This is still my favourite social space. Especially when you guys want to chat.


#TheAction

I walk the kids to school and back every day. The mood on the way back is always more up beat. Most days my lad wants to talk about Minecraft, while my little girl studies the veins in leaves or cracks ice with her boots. Somedays there are conversations that start with a question and end with me thinking “Wow… Just wow.”

Occasionally I wish I’d documented these moments but recently I’m more enjoying time without a phone in my hand.


Me and Adrian got the last of the filming done this week for Collusion.

We interviewed @BernaVfoto in her home studio. The last in our series of interviews with the Neotists.

Kit used:

Sony A7III - Tamron 28-75 - RodeLink Filmmaker kit - Brightcast led panel, Dfuse pop up soft box - Aputure mini 20 (hairlight) - Sachtler Ace tripod.


I also enjoyed a coffeeshop consult in London with Carolyne Creed in London.

In her day job she helps leaders build (and scale) healthy high-performing cultures and teams. We discussed the shape of some of the many comms channels out there and explored which of them may assist Carolyne as she expands her practice. She is @Evolvely on Twitter if you wanted to say hi.


My least favourite part of the week was taking my car for a service. I’ve had a Skoda Yeti since 2015. I swapped it for a Land Rover but have always drove it the same.

It’s been good to me and needed very little outside of tyres.

Till now.

The £150 service uncovered a few things. Mainly broken springs and corroded break disks.

“Have you been driving your car off road sir?”

“A bit.” I said.

“That’ll be six hundred and sixty one pounds and two pence please.”


After this week I’ll mostly be driving my car on the road.

I’ll also be focused more on my one-to-one consults and a smattering of workshops. Mostly I hope to be making tangible and intangible things.


#ThePictures

The story be hind the title of ‘Smells like Teen Spirit’.

And more context.


Wow to Niel Burnell’s photographic work. His woodland scenes remind me of some of my favourite places in the world. Places that look like they have been here forever and you hope will be here forever more.


This week a massive naturally formed ice disc appeared in the Presumpscot river in Maine. Prepare yourself for some overly dramatic music.


I was watching a bug on a window. It was backlit and transparent. It reminded me of the film Tron. When I tried to take a photo it wouldn’t focus. So I tried to draw it but it buggered off.

Then I got carried away and imagined it and eight more of it’s kind.

I call this ‘Luminous Entomology’. Mainly because there were no Google results for that. Compared to ‘Tron Bugs’.


I also had a go at my first non photographic landscape. It’s not exactly what I saw from my car window and I promise no lysergic acid diethylamide was consumed. Although that might of helped.


#TheWords

How podcasts became a seductive and sometimes slippery mode of storytelling.


How journalists can achieve bigger impact with their stories.


#TheSound

The Kitchen Sisters do a fantastic job of collecting the collectors. Here they tell the story of Folklorist and Professor Bill Ferris, who has committed his life to documenting and expanding the study of the American South.


Been catching up with the Ear Hustle podcast and now that Earlonne Woods is out'. After 21 years in prison it will be interesting to see how he gets on but also how the podcast format will change.

This episode entitled ‘Bittersweet’ shares a story from his family and is harrowing in parts.

The US prison system blows my mind. In all the wrong ways.


If you fancy some audio drama… Check out the ‘Hartlepool Spy’. Michael Palin, Jim Moir (AKA Vic Reeves) andToby Jones. Enjoy.


#TheConsumed

When I picked the kids up from school my lad told me I smelled of cooking. Better than soup I thought. But I’d been cooking stew so it was probably not far off. I ruined a perfectly good stew by putting sausage in it. As my wife is pescatarian I slow cooked a veg stew then slpit it and added sausages to the remaining two thirds. On the day I preferred the veggie stew but the sausage stew came into it’s own the following day when leftovers were reheated. I need to get out of the habit of bunging meat into meals thinking it will make it better.


I’ve skipped breakfast a few times recently and inadvertently joined the ranks of intermittent fasters. It’s not been a conscious decision. It’s mostly due to that whisky nightcap sending me to the fridge at 10pm where I fashion some kind of Scooby sandwich before bed. So if I’m not hungry in the morning I don’t eat. This may not be the best way to go though and for years I have done it the right way. According to some. That is not eating after 8pm.

The online articles on intermittent fasting quote research from all over the place but I’m going to follow my gut feeling on this and go with this one. No eating after 8pm and making sure you have breakfast.

When home I indulge in the breakfast that’s in the photo above. Granola with rice milk, natural yogurt, chopped banana and dried figs with a sprinkle of flax seed, crushed almonds, brazil and walnuts.


#TheThings

Those that don’t subscribe have missed last week’s email and will not know why I’m buying CD’s again. But I am and I picked up a couple £1 albums in a local charity shop this week.

Not sure why it is I like to have physical media. I’m now playing cassettes, vinyl and CD’s in the shed. I don’t use any streaming services and now even the digital versions of my physical media feel decidedly analog. The music is finite and quantifiable. Contained within an object that sits upon a shelf. It’s not a torrent or stream of data with no beginning or end. It’s a thing that I can get my head around.


I also found a Kobo Mini in a local charity shop for £8.

Not seen a mini before.

It fits in a shirt pocket, stored 2gb of books and is still perfectly readable. You seem to be able to do more with it than you can a kindle too.

Here’s a list of resources should you you want to hack your Kobo.


Ronald McDonald Crucifixion.

Three words I’d not imagined I’d see together but for some reason feel glad I have.

Protesters are demanding the removal of the sculpture McJesus in Israel.


These wax wraps are amazing.

The photo shows a freshly washed wax wrap after it has been used to wrap up a messy sandwich my lad had at school.

If like me you are fed up of using and binning cling film and tin foil I highly recommend these 100% cotton beeswax wraps. They are stiff when cold and flexible warm. You fold them round your food and then place your hands on to mould and tighten the fit. They’re stated to last about a year of use but if you have a block of beeswax and an iron there’s no reason you can’t reset them and they’ll be good as new.

Ours came from Amazon. I recommend getting some of the bigger sizes if you need then for large sarnies.

All you need to do is wash them in cool water. They are meant to have antibacterial properties but it’s probably best not to use them with raw meat. If you do wear them out and want to throw them they are completely biodegradable.


#TheWeb


#TheEnd

Thanks for reading.

Next week I really have to pay the tax man and try to keep the kids alive while my wife is out of the country.

It’s also Burns night so I’ll be practising my appreciation of things north of the border.

What are you up to?


I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” 
Douglas Adams


[If you liked this why not subscribe? Next week might be even better.]

Imagine this matters.

See you out there.

Over…

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Dragons can be beaten [141]

Greetings from Cambridge...

New years eve was a hotbox of sweat and hormones. An incubator for the viruses lying in wait for a dip in our immune systems. The catalyst was the house party host. Pained sweating. A walking ache, breathing in and out who knows what. “Take a sip of this” he slurred. I reach for the glass without thinking. Only when it touched my mouth does my immune system scream. In Scottish. “We can’t take any more captain!”

I’ve been skirting pockets of sickness ever since. I’m on the edge of something but I’m not sure what. Nothing feels right. For now I can think move and function. But I feel like there is a battle going on.

If you hear from me next week you know that I won.

It’s waiting for us to slow down.

You know what to do.


#TheAction

This last week has been about axes, whiskey and Landy’s, Ales, nails and noodles.

But I’m slowly getting back into the usual things.

Adrian Storey came over this week to interview me for a short film featuring the Neotists.

Feels strange to be slipping back into work shaped stuff.

I have done so little email and social that I’ve felt a diminished flicker in my cyborg urge to constantly be online. The occasional glance at a screen felt fine. Walking the dog without my phone felt fine.

But the pixels are back with a vengeance and I can feel myself reintegrate. I even found myself subconsiously thumbing through Twitter. I blocked a couple of accounts in my network that weresharing #Groyper memes. I can’t remember the last time I had to block someone. The weird thing was that I was following them. Both were Americans, one from Alamama. I checked their accounts and it wasn’t an anomaly. They seemed to be fans of racism and I had no idea how we’d connected. It’s not that I want to live in an echo chamber. I already venture outside of my Twitter bubble to experience the darker side but I’ve little time for any of this at the moment.

But work mostly comes from Twitter so I feel I need to be there. And then I saw a tweet asking for someone to deliver a talk on podcasting so I eagerly replied. I checked out the event and it all seemed pretty decent. All talks were recorded and archived for their website and they touted non-salesy speakers.

After a few messages suggesting dates and suchlike we agreed on two possibles. Then I got one of those emails freelancers really should be used to.

And we are back.


#ThePictures

If this doesn’t make you want to make something, nothing will.


I spent a chunk of time looking at this… Time-Lapse Photographs Capture Swarms of Airplane Lights as They Streak Across the Night Sky.

I’d think it would be more beautiful if I could ignore the pollution, the noise, the congestion of our skies and all the other stuff that accompanies it. Can’t wait for alternative forms of transport.

Like trains. That work and are cheaper than flying.


#TheWords

Two poems by Ted Dodson.


I have sat compiling this email for a while now. This article makes me want to stretch my legs. Why exercise alone won’t save us.


How PTSD became a problem far beyond the battlefield.


#TheSound

Everyone was in bed. Earlier in the evening I’d played a fun game of Magic: the Gathering with my lad and I was idlely packing away the cards we had used to play. The game, only our second, had been so much fun and I was wondering when we’d next get the chance.

Just then there was a notification on my phone telling me 99pi had just dropped another podcast. Freakishly it was entitled ‘Gathering the Magic’ and could only mean one thing.

Listen if you want to know what I’m talking about.


Another great podcast from the BBC’s Boring Talks. This one is all about Animal Vaginas.


In theology school, Carlo Nakar asked, “Lord, what is the hardest thing you could possibly ask me to do?” He got a verbal answer. This is a dark podcast that is #NSFW. It contains some difficult to listen to topics. Do not listen to it if you are easily upset.


#TheConsumed

I stole this recipe from FreelanceGeek in the newsletter Wire backchannel. Ask me if you would like to join the group.

Ginger Peppermint Syrup

Here you get the soothing qualities of warming ginger, all wrapped up in a delicious easy to swallow cough syrup. Spicy ginger works as an expectorant, helping loosen and expel mucous from the lungs. It can also stop the painful tickle at the back of throat that can trigger a cough if the first place, if you are experiencing a dry cough. The peppermint will also help relieve the irritating tickle of a cough.

You will need…
-3 tablespoons of chopped ginger
-1 tablespoon of dried peppermint
-4 cups of water
-1 cup of honey

Directions
Chop the ginger and add it along with the peppermint to 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat so that the liquid simmers. Simmer until the liquid has been reduced by half, than strain. Let it cool slightly, and then stir in 1 cup of honey until it has been dissolved completely. Bottle and take 1 tablespoon every few hours as needed to ease your cough.

Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.


#TheThings

Cut from a single piece of paper.

Masayo Fukuda is a master of kirie, the Japanese art of paper cutting.


Ask Ebay and it shall deliver.

My first couple of games of ‘Magic The Gathering’ almost followed the actual rules. I don’t care though. I can hone them as I go.

It’s so much fun. So much fun that I have expanded my deck with a load of eBay purchased cards and am looking for proper instruction. I’d like to get a few people together. Maybe we can meet in an old castle with a a few bottles of whisky and battle till dawn.

If you are a player, I have a small (only three so far) MTG group on Wire. You are welcome to join in. That way I can keep my excitement out of the newsletter.


#TheWeb

  • I’ve changed my VPN provider. PIA (Private Internet Access) has been good but seemed really slow recently so I thought I would try out NordVPN.

    So far so good. It’s affordable, easy to set up, seems faster and comes highly recommended.

  • Hi new folk. Thanks for signing up to this. Subscribing unlocks another two emails a month and only costs $5/month or $55/year.

    But it’s free to add yourself to the Documentally Newsletter map?

    We are not invisible. We are all nodes looking to connect.

  • Quirk is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy app that wants to know what you are thinking. It ‘…helps you record "automatic thoughts," challenge them, and then train your brain with an alternative thought.’

    Sounds scary right?

    I spoke with the developer Evan Conrad asking about the privacy implications. He told me that this is his personal project and not connected with his work and…

    ‘User data stays on the device. A third party has no access to your data. I have no access to your data. The only exceptions to this are: 1. iPhone backups, which could/should contain your quirk data 2. Crash logs, which very rarely, but occasionally contain user data. (Though I haven’t had an app crash yet so I haven’t actually gotten a log) Plus, Quirk is open source, so if you don’t believe me you can always go check for yourself.’

    Sounds legit. Let me know if it works for you.

  • A few years ago I worked with a company who told me they were close to 3D printing an entire mechanical watch. You would only need add the spring. All they were struggling with was the glass. Well it looks like we can now 3D print glass. I’m interested to see where this goes. What will this mean for glass blowers and makers?

  • Who needs fantasy card games when there is a Dark Overlord wreaking havoc in the actual world.

  • Take a peak at all these open domain works you can play with.


#TheEnd

Thanks for reading. I mean it.

There is a whole new year ahead of us and I am yet to imagine what this might look like. Next week I will be in London on the 8th and in my shed for as much time as possible.



[If you enjoyed this newsletter please pass it on. Or perhaps become a paying subscriber at $5/month.]


Don’t slow down.

See you out there.

Over…

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Anti-Fogmatic [139]

Greetings from London.

Happy winter solstice.

I’m in the Queens Head, 66 Acton Street. I appear to have accidentally gone out for the night. My good friend and motorcycle adventure partner Phil is over from the US.

We occasionally chat online but you have to snatch these richer high resolution moments when you can.

I know it won’t be long till our augmented selves can travel space and time teathered only to our feeble bodies by light wires. But sometimes it’s nice to share the same geographical space.

The current topic of conversation is environment.


#TheAction

If you missed last week’s subscriber post you may not know how inspired I was after a week at Central St Martins. My first time back at University after 27 years. The buzz has not worn off and I’m keen to keep the momentum going.

Not got much done since other than flesh out some project ideas and grow my to-do lists.

Watch this space.

It might be I drop some experiments on my other twitter account.

A night out with ‘The Sacred Brotherhood of the Pixel Beat’ had me testing the Zoom H3 VR alongside a Garmin 360 camera.

Photo by Dave Laica.

It all seemed to work great. Not that I’ve listened back to the audio yet. It’s on one of my lists.

This next week will be a cosy pit for the mind and the seasonal flogging of my liver.


#ThePictures

A beautifully shot short film entitled Knives Down, Bikes Up.


Another view of New York.


How Peter Jackson made World War One footage seem astonishingly new.

Here is the trailer.

I learned so much from watching this film. If you can stomach the newly colourised gore it will show you the first world war like you have never seen before. The mindsets of the soldiers, the camaraderie, even across the trenches and the sheer scale of the horror.


Remove Background is an interesting browser based tool.

It took a few seconds for the browser to extract the background from the photo above.

I tried it again with a more cluttered image.

It could be useful for a quick edit but serious work will need a little more attention.

Here are some images I grabbed over the last few days.


#TheWords

Thanks to Tim for sending this article over. ‘The future book is here but it’s not what we expected.’ It’s not only a great summary, it comforts me that in the shadow of so much techno-angst and loss of trust in our corporate publishing channels, we can still tread a more wholesome path.


I still have more physical books than I can read in a lifetime. I’m currently reading this with my kids at bedtime.

Frozen In Time is about two children that stumble upon a sealed bunker at the bottom of their garden. It that’s not cool enough the bunker turns out to be a top secret lab owned by a now missing genius scientist. And if that’s not enough the lab contains… I’d best stop there. Anyway, it’s fun read.


I read Art Matters in about 20 mins.

If you are familiar with Neil Gaiman’s work then you may suddenly realise (as I did) that a few of his lectures/ideas have been repackaged into this book. I wouldn’t have minded so much as it’s a lovely object with great illustrations. It just felt a little like a stocking filler.


Next week will be my last newsletter of the year. If you would like to contribute to it so I can maintain my continued pot-valiant state of being. Please pick a heading to offer links or words to and drop them reply to this email.

Maybe you would like to subscribe? If not then please share it to someone who might. If you feel like it. It’s currently $50/year next year it will be $60. Still a bargain. ;-)


#TheSound

Do you speak nicely to your digital assistant? In this episode of the Digitally Human Aleks Krotoski finds out if how we treat our subservient robots impacts how we treat one another.


While I was in the Apple Store looking at the new Apple Pencil (that does not work on my iPad Pro as Apple would rather I drop £1500 on the new tablet) I got chatting to the girl showing me what it could do. She summarised by recommending I don’t buy it. She said I should wait till file sharing via the USB-C was unlocked. How cool is that? As a visual artist she draws and renders 3D animations on her current iPad and was bigging up the video editing capabilities but was happy to wait. As she was also a film maker I told her she would love the podcast I had just listened to from Heavyweight called Marchel. Once again there is great research wrapped up in wonderful storytelling.


#TheConsumed

I was excited to get a delivery text. Soon I was waiting in for a man with a van to offload some some audio technology. I was convinced it was a piece of tech I wanted to review. But it wasn’t. It was a box of food. In amongst the ‘luxury’ food hamper was a chunk of fig, honey and brandy cake. For a moment I forgot all about the audio tech.

I almost ate the whole slab out of spite. No idea who sent it. Or who it’s for for that matter.


Did you read about all the fake Scotch turning up? I wonder how long this has been going on for. I’m hoping Santa brings me something bottle shaped on Tuesday. Then I’ll get forensics onto it.


#TheThings

Check out the work of Matthew Simmonds.

Small scale architectural sculptures carved into stone.


Other folk also think the iPad Pro although faster than most laptops is still not ready to replace it.

If you get one for Christmas keep the recipt

The durability test leaves a lot to be desired as well.


#TheWeb


#TheEnd

There are 51 newsletters highlighting what I have learned this year. I hope to get them all into the Substack archive at some point. If you are a paying subscriber you will see I have already added some older issues for you perusal.

Next week is all about family, enjoying lots of the little things and downtime.

Thankyou for reading. I’m raising my glass to you right now. Have a good one.


“There is more to life than making a living. Do not work more than you live.” 
~ Mokokoma Mokhonoana


Eudaimonia

See you out there.

Over…

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