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Only the curious survive 
Greetings from the shed...
Hello new people. Some of you are here because ofcourtesy of Michael Simmons. More on that later. But thanks Micheal. It’s nice to get a nudge. I’ll be interested to see how many hang around. As the title suggests, only the curious survive. ;-)
On our 13th attempt, the hot air ballooning finally happened.
Not only does the air have to be still but it appears the planets also have to align. And what a blast. Me and the family woke before dawn, then drove to a farmers field and along with other passengers, helped inflate the £100,000 aircraft. You can get cheaper balloons And far more expensive ones. Even single person systems. But ours costs what it does because it can carry 16 passengers and there is 2 or three of everything for safety. Apart from the envelope.
On November the 21st it will be the 240th anniversary of Ballooning. Looking at the design you’d think not much has changed since Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier’s first flight in 1783. But the advancements in burner systems, materials, navigation and safety have seen a huge increase in commercial and leisure use. Things are a lot safer for sure. I also learned that balloons were steerable with venting and some smaller ones even have props.
Our pilot Pete was great. He answered all my nerdy questions and his ‘dad jokes’ were second to none. There was even a splash of bubbly to finish. The high sided basket split into four quadrants made us all feel like we had a little basket all to ourselves. In between sporadic roars of a flame we’d drift silently watching hares, hawks, deer, foxes, horses and astonished people in their back gardens. I loved it. A young couple also got engaged in the air. (Glad she said yes. Could have been awkward.) When it came to the landing we touched down so gently it was hard to tell when it happened.
Flights cost from £140 to around £210 per person. Or you can follow one till it lands and if it’s in an exciting place take some photos. Like I did. Then offer the photos to the company for some free tickets. ;-). I’d certainly go again and gladly pay the ticket price. Perhaps a microlight next though.
Some photos snapped from the balloon.
It’s been 20 years since I met the great Elvin Jones while on a photo shoot at Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham. An incredibly skilful and influential musician He sadly died the following year. Watch him in action here.
I was recently asked if I’d dig out some photos of jazz music students from Birmingham Conservatoire getting a masterclass from him. Here is a commemorative post marking the anniversary.
I had no idea that this dispatch was in a top 100 list till I read Michael’s newsletter on the matter. It’s weird seeing someone else analyse what you do more than you do yourself.
He talks about why he thinks this dispatch works. But i’m not sure the ranking system has the same ideas as me about what success might be. Ideally I like being a part of a community and I very much feel that here. I’ve noticed that different people resonate with different types of content. So I do my best to cater for all who might drop by. But I can only genuinely talk about things that i’m passionate about. On the whole this has worked. When I got my amateur radio licence I received a few comments about how things had got a little too niche. So I started G5DOC.net. And I’m glad I did. It gave me some focus and clarity.
Clarity comes from empathy and understanding another person's perspective and feelings. This is easier when you stop thinking audience and start thinking community.
So what exactly is this. Right now.
This is a human authored journal. I document because it's important to preserve authentic memories. Especially now in an increasingly AI-driven world.
The more AI models improve at generating content from prompts, the more significant I find a personal hands on documenting of our lives.
Photography for me has always been about memory-keeping. Holding onto precious moments and cherished experiences soon lost. Then there are the boxes of cassette tapes and minidiscs. As well as a stack of hard drives reflecting my passion for audio recording.
The subtleties in sound have the ability to evoke emotions and trigger memories in a way that images alone cannot. The tone of a loved one's voice or laughter, the ambient sounds of a particular place. It transports us back to clear and vivid moments.
While photos freezes time visually, audio recordings add a layer of depth and immersion to the process. We need these captured moments if we'd like to remember where we come from and who we are.
A loss in our sense of self can affect our psychological well-being. Our memories shape our personal identity and influence our decision-making. Having a verifiable version of our past can offer us a sense of continuity. Protect us against the constant reshaping of our recollections.
I'm glad that there are certain aspects of my story gathering that, for now at least, cannot be replicated.
While I'm sure AI tools can generate content that resembles memories, it's the human eye, individual perspective, and our emotional connection that breathes life into the act of documenting.
The photographs we take, the audio recordings we make, and the videos we capture are infused with personal interpretation, reflections, and memories. Testament to our unique perception of the world.
I have no idea how naive these thoughts, or my perspective may seem in the future. But right now I have a deep connection with the subject matter in front of my lens or microphone. I'm embracing this sense of presence and engagement. Immersed in the nuances and subtleties that catch my attention. For me, the act of documenting is an intimate dialogue between myself and the world around me. Enabling and fortifying my appreciation for the beauty in little things. In the moment.
I am wowed at how fast technology is moving forward and share my experiments as well as some of the tools I find useful. But it is authenticity and the human touch that is key to providing us with a lasting connection. To not only our past, but the natural world around us.
I've been 'Documentally' for around 20 years now. The name celebrates the power of personal documentation, authenticity, intentionality, actuality. Capturing moments in their truest form.
Our unique perspective, emotional connection and personal interpretations breathe life into the act and art of documenting. Thank you to those who read this. That also find solace in the human touch. That make this part of the internet feel meaningful and enriching.
As promised I shared all four long lost music tracks that I made with a playstation sequencer in the 90’s. You can hear them in their entirety in the subscriber podcast.
Good Bad Billionaire, from the BBC, is a step outside of my normal podcast listening. A judgy focus on the mega rich sounds trite, but it’s certainly interesting to see what billionaires do with their unaccountable power. Some change the world. Some just flaunt it. It’s taught me a lot about business and how twisted it can get.
One YouTuber makes cheese… out of other YouTubers.
$20 a month for a pendent to record and transcribe everything you say and hear? It would be like having the perfect memory.
Possible side effects? Anger, frustration, loss of trust and social exclusion from those around you as well as strained relationships, isolation, ethical condemnation and possible legal consequences. I guess you need to weigh up the pros and cons.
As you may know, supporting subscribers get a shoutout and a link in this dispatch and supporter Tim is selling a TomBihn Synik backpack. So I’m linking to it on Vinted. As I’m a huge fan of Tom Bihn gear this is an easy ask. Should you click on the link and buy it, these are not only rare in the UK, it will last you for ever.
A friend of mine is introducing a French artist to the UK. Alan Reullier
This is Alan standing with ‘Feathers of Steel’. One of his sculptures made with engine parts from French Air Force fighter jets. He made this a few years ago with the help of his father. Now sadly deceased. It's two meters high and contains a lot of high grade titanium. These pieces are super rare now as Alan no longer has access to these unique materials. What with the connection to Alan’s late father I think that it is more for show and public enjoyment than it is for sale.
Artist, designer and sculptor, Alan’s next series is set to feature equally rare and unique 60s, 70s and 80s hand drawn draftsman’s technical plans from the UK motor industry. You can see more of his work on AlanReullier.com
I must thank, (check out their work) and all those that pay to support to get all the content I share into this feed. Upgrading is currently only $5/£4. Cheaper than one tub of Lurpak butter a month!
Either way… Thank you for reading.
Scientists use a lasers to bend lightning for the first time.
Tinkerers keep the world exciting.
If you don’t like editing video and don’t need ‘the human touch’ then there’s always the AI option.
The Documentally community map is not a rallying of troops (yet), it’s a gathering of minds, a list of safe houses, a friend when you need one and a bunch of lovely humans. Add yourself.
Today marks 50 years since Ted Simon began his journey round the world.
After experimenting with Bing’s Dall-E3 image generator it feels a little like an old Midjourney. Still too many fingers for my liking. Not bad for ‘free’ though.
Pretty sure it’s not only dictators using AI to quash dissenters and spread fake news.
Some of my other places include GoodReads, FarceBook, Flickr, Strava, Untappd, Diaspora, Vivino, LinkedIn, YouTube, Mastodon, a ham radio newsletter or search ‘Documentally’ on Wire, Birdsite, T2 or Bluesky.
Until Substack offer a pay-what-you-like model any tip via PayPal can be converted into subscription time.
I bought a scintillation counter. (Pocket-size radiation detector & spectrometer) It’s amazing. No idea what i’m going to do with it yet, but it’s like having magic eyes on an unseen world. And i’m learning a lot.
With all those words I ran out of space pretty quick. Apologies for that. Well done for making it down here though. I’ve just poured a glass of wine but I really need to get organised. I’ll be teaching in Paris for the next two weeks. I’m packing a camera, radio gear, field recorders, contact mics and the scintillation counter. Can’t wait to go through the X-ray. Don’t forget that this is an email and if you don’t like commenting you can reply. Thanks for reading.
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity." ~ Dorothy Parker
See you out there.
A ❤️ is a high-five, a comment is a hug. A supporting subscription earns my undying love.
Happy Birthday @BillT