And We’re Back!

FTP Screen
I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at this FTP screen lately.

It’s been a fun three days.  I decided to make some changes to my hosting setup, which changed the location of this blog among other things.

After several emails to my hosting support, including one step that only they could perform, I have my hosting configured properly.  My bakery website is not completely moved to a new hosted wordpress environment and this host is configured for this blog and a some other blogging ideas I have.  (The skeleton of my next project is underway.)

The biggest unforseen hiccup was that I was without email for two days.  One day for the hosting folks to make their change and one to adjust all my MX records properly.  But even that’s all working now.

Onwards and upwards!

My Three Words for 2016

I’ve been listening to what Chris Brogan has to say for at least 8 years now.  One thing Chris does consistently is to pick three words to guide his work and life for the coming year.

Three words.  Way simpler than a vision statement or grand manifesto.  Or is it?

I mean, if you’re going to dedicate the entire year to focusing on only three words, they better be pretty good ones.  Broad.  Vibrant. Important.  Talk about pressure!

I’ve never done this before, but I have been struggling with focus lately (some may say for a long time) so I decided to do the three words exercise this year. I need some direction and it’s gotta come from inside me.  So here goes.  My three words:

Present.   Open.  Carnal.

Oooh, deep!   Let’s break this down.

Present

I have a really hard time living in the here and now.  I’m either full of regret about the past or worried about the future.  It’s no fun, believe me.

When I’m working, walking or talking with friends,  I will focus on the present. What I’m doing, seeing, hearing right now.

Where I am is much, much better than where I was or where I think I’ll end up.  So let’s love what’s happening around me now.

Open

When I’m caught up inside my head, everyone suffers.  I’m going to open up a lot this year.

I’ll open myself up to truly listen to people.  Their dreams, desires, problems and joys.  I can better help people if I’m truly listening.

I’ll share my hopes, dreams and challenges too and ask for help.  There’s no point putting on a strong face if I’m struggling with something.  And there’s no sense being afraid to say what I want to accomplish either.

I’ll take a page from Austin Kleon and show my work.  If I keep things bottled up till it’s perfect I’ll never ship anything.

Carnal

Here’s a word I picked up from Mary Karr.  It’s powerful.  Possibly controversial. It’s also perfect, so I’m using it.

The way she uses “carnal” it isn’t referring to sex specifically.  It’s referring to experiencing the world and talking about it, using all one’s senses.

That’s what I’m going to do.  When I write, I’m going to capture everything: the feel, smell, taste and sound of thing I’m describing

I’m going to capture the light and colour of the world around me when I paint

And when I travel, around town or around the world, I’m going to capture everything I experience as vividly as I possibly can.

Carnal is also a reminder to write the truth of what I see and experience.  I often sand off the rough edges of whatever I’m describing so as to not offend anyone.  I’m likely going to turn some people off with my writing this year.  That’s OK.  I’m going to turn others on even more this way, I know it.


 

So there you have it.  Three words that will get me out of my head and seeing things in bold, loud, smelly colour.  I’m very excited about the year ahead.

Fear of Music

I bought a premium subscription to Spotify several months ago.  It’s really starting to grow on me.

The main purpose was to have some peace at the bakery.  My Dylan-heavy playlist was getting on the nerves of the other bakers, but I wasn’t willing to listen to their house music or kiddie pop.  The Spotify subscriptions has a wide enough selection of music that there was something for everyone, even (god forbid) customers.

It’s really cool to be able to think of pretty much any music artist and be able to find their music in one place.  We can get a reggae playlist in seconds.  Same with soul music (you want classic or contemporary R&B?)  New music, old music, rock, country, folk or classical, it’s all there.

Sure there are a few things missing.  The Van Morrison collection is very, very slim, and I can’t find a good version of David Bromberg’s “Testify.”  And the Spotify curated playlists can be woeful (“Your Favourite Coffeehouse” is so mellow I’d need to order 3 extra shots of espresso.)  But Discovery Playlists make up for all of that.

The Discovery Playlist is a playlist selected just for you.  It’s around two hours long (30 songs or so) and is  based on the music that you pick regularly.  The twist is that the algorithm picks similar music, both old and new.

A new playlist shows up every Monday and exists for only one week.  So I have a week to listen to the whole thing and flag the artists and songs I want to hear more from.

It’s a neat trick.  I’m reminded of older artists or albums that I haven’t heard in ages, but the playlist also highlights new artists that I want to check out further.

I’ve been paying attention to my Discovery playlist for several weeks now.  If there’s a song I like, I add it to a special playlist so I won’t forget it (my Discovery playlist refreshes after a week and I can’t get it back any other way.  That “Master List of Discoveries” now has over 300 songs and I’ll likely add 20 more next week.

The only problem, and the one that inspired the title of this post, is what the algorithm says about my current musical tastes.  It’s trending towards 60’s and 70’s folk rock and American roots music.  I love it, but my tastes are actually more diverse than that.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to experiment with listening to specific styles to see if they will show up on my Discovery playlist.  Will listening to AC/DC for a week get more hard rock on the playlist?  What about a week of Orchestra Baobab?

I’ll keep you posted.  🙂

Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want

We just got back from a Christmas holiday to Calgary and Fernie, and not a moment too soon.   Another day or two and I’d end up causing a big fight.

The trip was great, but highlighted by a series of strange communication errors. Either I would only hear half of what someone was saying, or I’d only say half of what I meant.  So many situations were unnecessarily strained, from arranging a meeting with my aunt and uncle or sorting the recycling as we cleaned out the condo in Fernie.

Inevitably I’d get frustrated by the misunderstanding.  Of course we were going to meet today!  Clearly this pile is recycling and that is garbage!  Then I’d get accused of being ‘snippy’ which would raise the tension three more levels.

Luckily we had a nine hour drive home where I could stew, mope, then try to figure things out.  I was taken back to a “Crucial Conversations” class I took years ago where the instructor kept quoting the Spice Girls.

Tell me what you want.  What you really, really want!

If what I really, really want is smoother, easier, stress free conversations with my friends and family (and I do), then that’s what I need to focus on.

Relax.  Get centred.  Explain in detail what I’m thinking.  Ask for feedback.  Ask for input.  Ensure we have understanding.  Then ensure we agree on the next step.

It’s hard for me, because I’m either experiencing life in big gulps and don’t want to stop, or I’m anxious about something and am dancing around the issue.

But if I’m going to reduce the number of Defcon 4 moments, I better stick to the program.

Relax.  Get centred.  Explain in detail what I’m thinking.  Ask for feedback.  Ask for input.  Ensure we have understanding.  Then ensure we agree on the next step.

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, but it seems I have one this year.