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Safe Passage 
Greetings from the shed...
Hope you are doing ok.
If you need anything you know where I am.
It’s been an interesting few days in my house. Alongside the normal staying alive and trying to make it fun, we’ve been doing the numbers and planning the purchase of this private Island off the coast of the Shetland Isles.
We haveve wanted a secluded eco homestead for a long time now and in amongst the sporadic web searches this island popped up.
When I say we are ‘planning’, it is a little like a mental holiday. That is not to say that’s all it is. Lots of exciting things start first with an idea before the dream is made real.
The island sits in amongst the Shetland Isles and has planing permission to renovate existing properties, build new and even create a new loch.
A few upsides of living on your own island:
You get to build a sustainable life with wind, solar and tidal power generating options.
You get to see the sea every day.
There’s no paper junk mail, door to door hawkers or trick or treaters.
You get to eat a healthy diet of fish and home-grown veg supplemented by supplies from the mainland.
A trip the the shop is an expedition involving weather checking and a boat trip.
You get to own a boat and your own private jetty.
You get to have your own airstrip. Or heliport.
You will never be bored and get to live an amazing life.
Plus too many other things to list here.
…and a few downsides:
No one (without a drone) delivers to the door.
The doctor will be at least 45mins away. Possibly days in bad weather.
You have to beam high speed broadband from the mainland.
The kids would have to be homeschooled in bad whether.
There is a lot of bad weather. Mostly wind.
You would need to come up with creative ways of earning money.
Family would need one or possibly two small flights and a boat trip to visit.
The bin men don’t collect and you have to process your own drinking water.
There are probably some other downsides or problems to solve.
Ideally this is the kind of adventure that needs to be shared..
I bet if we pulled together, a number of readers of this email could buy it.
But… It’s in a windy as hell part of the world (note the lack of trees) and the land if not an island would probably only cost £60,000 elsewhere. You will also be paying at least double the usual cost to build anything in this kind of isolated place. There are also a bunch of stipulations that go along with the sale.
So, perhaps not this island this time. Maybe an island further south, or a piece of coastline, or even an abandoned farm.
French properties are going for insane money. Houses, outbuildings, swimming pools, vineyards, and more for less than £300K. Something to think about.
On the topic of shooting video with your phone…
If I’m in the shed I mostly don’t bother attaching a mic to mine. For the last 12 years, more often than not I’ll just lean my phone against something or hand hold it. The internal microphones are constantly improving. Yes this might annoy those that prefer perfectly framed cinematic shots but what exactly is your aim here? To spontaneously share a moment to your networks? Or potentially miss that moment while you set up a complicated rig or shuffle a script.
Of course different content packages require different approaches, but thankfully the lockdown has shown many solo operators that the lower resolution vlogging style is more than acceptable. Even to the most anal perfectionist.
Indoors there is not usually any wind to worry about and in my shed, not much echo. So there is no real reason to get the mic close to my mouth. After all I’m only a couple of foot from the phone mics anyway.
So why do I have a gazzilion mics that will work with my phone? Different reasons. Voiceovers might need to be higher quality and a closer proximity with a larger capsule mic delivers less room noise and better tone. Field recording needs more depth, resolution, and in many cases stereo. Ambisonic soundscapes of course need special tech. Windy or echoey environments are less distracting when you are closer to a wind shielded mic.
Whatever gear you use, wind noise and plosives from speaking or breathing into the mic can easily ruin clean audio. But it can also be fixed with something as simple as pulling a foam windshield over your phone.
In my workshops I'll recommend a number of iterations. My simple but fully featured option would be the phone, a phone clamp, a support like a mini tripod handle or monopod with big feet, and a wireless microphone and LED light in a twin cold shoe adapter. This (left image) isthe most gear you will see hanging off my phone.
A popular option with me is just the phone with mount and handle. (Top right image) This is my most used set up outside of just the phone (bottom right image) with a windshield when i’m outside. Bear in mind that it’s hard to protect the front facing mic with a windshield but some apps enable you to select what mics you are recording video with. I mostly use the standard camera app and rarely have wind noise issues.
You might know Adam Savage from things like Myth Busters. He is obviously no stranger to the camera and If I can’t convince you less is more, take a look at his vlogging set up. He also doesn’t appear to use a mic when he records his solo pieces to camera.
I have a couple of those flexible camera mounts. I originally used this on my motorbike with the GoPro and bought this adapter so I could put the phone mount on. These are also available in longer lengths but I had to modify the clamp with rubber. If you watched the video you will see the small feet on his Manfrotto monopod were not quite wide enough. I use something like this with my cheep monopod. I just looked for a carbon fibre monopod that was shorter stowed and longer in use than my current aluminium one. But it’s hard to find them with the 3/8 thread in the foot. Then I found an aluminium one only a tiny bit heavier than carbon but much cheaper. I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist. Check it out ;-)
Been watching more TV than usual and really enjoyed The Queens Gambit. Highly recommended.
Where the top four Covid Vaccines are going.
Thank you to my supporting subscribers. If you didn’t invest in my shenanigans this dispatch, the podcasts and other posts would not exist.
And thank you to those current free subscribers who get the bi-weekly email. Here is the link for 20% off for life should you wish to complete the journey and go all the way. (Link expires Jan 21).
Please take a moment to do one of those today. Thank you!
For existing supporting subscribers don’t forget that there are a few backchannels to this email in the form of community groups on the free version of Wire personal.
Request to add me on there (Documentally) and then let me know if you want access to the main Backchannel chat or the groups for people into…
Whisky (Any type)
Body & Mind (Running, yoga etc)
Ham Radio (For members of ‘CROWS’ - Creative Radio Operators Wireless Society)
Weird Beers (Ale appreciation)
Magic The Gathering (Card gaming)
Audio365 (Audio creatives)
UK Bikers (UK motorbike riders)
There is a thriving behind the scenes community that I have really enjoyed participating in. Even before lockdown. But especially during.
Slightly surreal experience earlier this week as I walked the dog listening to the documentary entitled ‘Songs of the Humpback Whale’.
It recalls his teenage years on a boat built by his parents as they attempted to circumnavigate the world. Start from the beginning but look forward to episode 3 as while distance learning his school were unable to send a rat for dissection through international post, so he had to dissect whatever animal he could find 0_o. Great listening and an inspiration to those with personal stories they want to get out there in audio.
Did you miss this podcast I posted yesterday.
While chatting to a fellow dogwalker this week, don’t ask how but the conversation turned to illegal stills. Once upon a time in the 70’s he worked in the Saudi Arabian oil fields for Aramco. With the Saudi booze ban, many of the expat workers had taken it upon themselves to build home made stills. Some were unfortunately blowing themselves up. Knowing that their workers were unlikely to stop experimenting, Aramco allegedly released a pamphlet titled ‘The Blue Flame’. Up until the 80’s they even handed out stills. The pamphlet shows the simplest methods to create acceptable beer, wine and spirits and they hoped they could advised and assist in safer ways of home distilling. No one knows who wrote the pamphlet but the knowledge held within was held in very high regard.
Although there is no apparent copyright, copies of ‘The Blue Flame’ are hard to find. The torrents on the dark web lead to dead ends and I’m too tight to buy this £40 photocopy on eBay.
With the help of my friend and some online research I am in the process of recreating the booklet in the form of a PDF. I will link it to all supporting subscribers of my dispatch. If you can’t wait for the next issue drop me an email or Wire message and I’ll send you the download link.
Got no beer in the house. So at this moment in time I’m drinking a modified Sweet Manhattan. That is: 50ml of bourbon (Elijah Craig), 25ml of Noilly Prat vermouth, 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters, 5ml of syrup from the maraschino cherry jar, ice and garnished with a cherry and a twist of lemon.
[I give you this crude artist impression in the place of a photo as I drank it without thinking to take one.]
I found this large waterproof case on Ebay for £23.
I thought it was a bargain when I saw it online, but when it arrived with a smashed corner I realised why it was cheap.
I complained to the seller and then saw their bad feedback. Rookie error. I’m normally good at checking the reviews. Anyway I have managed to glue it back together and can now fill it with unmarked bills before burying it in a secret location. Only joking. It will be filled with usb sticks containing crypto wallet keys. Or radio gear. [The apple is for scale and didn't come with it.]
Travel to your hometown 200 years ago.
Have you added yourself to the Documentally community map?
If Substack is in fact a stripper pole and I’m to be expected to dance for you — It’ll only be for a select few.
Why some memories seem like movies.
Don’t blame social media, blame capitalism.
Here are 50 bars you might one day get to visit.
Great news for João Carlos Martins, he now has a bionic hand.
I’d like to dedicate this email to my friend George Cockroft aka The Dice Man. Outside of all his amazing endeavours, he was a regular reader of this email, a pen friend and inspiration. One of those people who equipped me to navigate this world. To hold on when I needed to survive and let go when nothing really mattered. I’m glad I got to spend time with him. To share drinks and stories. To laugh at the world and love each individual second as it passed.
He died on the 6th of November. You may remember this post documenting our last meeting. At time of writing his Wikipedia page has him as still alive. Maybe they want to make sure. After all he’s been dead before.
His last email to me read:
The trouble with being a Renaissance Man (which I've often called you) is that you sometimes rightly wonder whether you want to pursue all your interests and talents. In your case, I think now perhaps you're right to consider re-examining closely how you spend your time, what you can toss out, what you fiercely want to do.
Let me know the results,
The last thing I said to him was… “If you need anything you know where I am.”
Thanks for reading.
Look after each other and do try to reach out beyond the restrictions. It might not be safe to touch someone physically right now but you can still use words. One well placed word can change a mind, flip a mood, bring tears of joy.
I am old now. Illusions are losing their grip. They are dropping off me like leaves from an autumn tree. How nice. ~ Luke Rhinehart
Always meet your heros.
See you out there.