I’m STILL waiting on some of my electronics equipment to come back… it’s been a month now for “a day”.

Meanwhile, just a short update on life in general, along with some site updates.

PLEASE READ - If you subscribe via Patreon or RSS and don’t like these update (and/or personal) posts, that’s OK! Let me know and if there’s a decent response then I can make sure they don’t appear in the RSS feed and/or patreon.

If you do enjoy this type of post, let me know and I’ll keep you up to date on my progress.

Contents

Site Updates

Let’s start this out with some site updates! Woooo!

  • General Site - 2 hours (what an annoying bug!)
    • Fixed headers bashing into titles if there’s no article image.
  • Mobile - 20 minutes
    • Fixed MASSIVE IMAGES TAKING OVER THE WHOLE SCREEN. - Sorry, I never look at my site on a mobile device.
    • Fixed header images on reasonable (desktop) devices too.

Life Updates

I no longer work 40+ hours a week on music and music-related tasks. I took a full-time position as a software engineer/tech writer.

So for the last 3 weeks I’ve been:

  • Setting up an office space that’s properly equipped for the work I do. A surprising amount of work, and for tax (and personal) purposes it currently can’t be the same space as my studio environment.
  • “Training”/Onboarding tasks.
  • Resting - If you’re familiar with me then I’m sure you can understand that something like “setting up a new monitor” is not a trivial task. It took me 6 hours to put 2 monitors on a monitor arm that’s on a piece of plywood. There are quite a few tasks like that.
  • Figuring out how to chill my brain.

That last one is hard for me.

When something gets in my head, I can’t stop thinking about it or I have to completely shut down. I’ve been working on the outline for a project on/off and my nightly routine has been to sit there scribbling in the air or to turn into a zombie. (while baseball plays in the background)

When I spent most of my day working on music, working with musicians, teaching musicians, then that’s all I could think about. I’d sit down and write about it or take time to investigate things I noticed during the day.

Now I don’t spend most of my day working on music, and in a matter of a week, I totally shut down to it. I haven’t opened a DAW since early August except to re-render some dialogue.

I haven’t even walked into my studio all except 1 night to change some strings and re-wire the coil-taps on an instrument, and another night (and a half) to put together the last article.

Deal with it.

I don’t like sitting tight on limitations of my personality, habits or cognizance. I’ve identified some generic issues, and a small habit or method of coping with the situation.

  • Turning off - At the end of the day I can’t stop thinking about (and sometimes can’t stop doing) what I was doing after ‘normal’ working hours.
    • Habits
      • Write down what’s on my mind when I step out of my office.
      • Speak what I wrote down.
      • Revise what I wrote down, because it almost always seems wrong after I say it aloud.
      • Repeat until the vocalization of my notes feels like it captures enough of my thoughts that I can reload those thoughts the next morning.
        • This is a slow process so far. I believe it will improve with practice, introspection and evaluation of the results of ‘reload’.
    • Mechanics
      • I setup a scene with Homekit so that when I say “Let’s blow this popsicle stand” (or popcorn stand, or pop stand), the office turns off completely. This helps me recognize that I’m done with what I’m working on for the day.
      • Blackout the windows and sealing the room - having completely control over the lighting (color and brightness) has helped me create a space with predictable lighting that ‘winds down’ as I should wind down. Sunlight triggers my cluster headaches anyway :) (Don’t worry, the room is ventilated and some days I work outside).
  • Turning on - Whether it’s walking into the office, or walking into the studio, or sitting down to play a game, or sitting down to watch MLB/NBA… I have trouble getting into it.
    • Habits
      • For office work - annotate my previous day’s notes, speak out my annotations. I read any documents that I was using the previous day.
      • For studio -
    • Mechanics
      • Office - Multiple monitors. I learned long ago that looking at one thing makes it difficult for me to get back into the last thing I was doing. In the studio I never start by sitting down at the very last thing I was doing. I keep a strict division between my multi-monitor setup as to which type of content goes on which monitor. I start my morning and I make a conscious effort to not look at the last thing I was doing. This allows me to avoid myopic absorption in a menial problem, but instead I go to the monitor that I keep my notes on.
        • It’s a small thing, but the requirement of having to “find my notes” has consistently let me down in the past. Having an unchanging location for my notes makes a big difference.
        • Secondarily, coding on a monitor in portrait configuration is just so much nicer.
      • Studio - I have no solutions here, yet. I’m not sure what the problem is that I’m trying to solve because I have no existing personal projects!
    • Coping
      • I become frustrated when it takes me an hour in the morning to remember what I was doing yesterday. I now set a 10 minute timer when I start to go over my notes, when the timer goes off then I step outside or shut of my monitor and play an instrument. Allowing the frustration to reach a boiling point is sometimes a very useful thing, irritation (not necessity!) is the mother of invention. Stepping away allows me to recognize if I’ve reached that point or if I’m spinning down the drain.
      • per-hour exit (not every hour, but each hour) - I get up from my computer at least once each clock hour and walk outside. Every 2-3 hours I do a light workout. I’ve found that this allows me to practice reloading my thoughts on a smaller scale. Sometimes I’ll walk around at 3:45, then at 4:05, but not again until 5:45.
        • If a problem is so complex that I can’t afford a 5 minute walk around the garden or down the street, then it’s very likely that I need to stop and think about what I’m doing, or take better notes!
  • Letting music be a hobby
    • Habits
      • Ideas appreciated. I’ve never been very good at doing anything with music unless I’m doing it for someone else.
      • 1 hour in the studio every night. I’m instituting this next week, no matter what I’m going to hop in the studio and do something, even if I don’t think it’s a valuable use of my time.
    • Mechanics
      • Re-organizing the studio in a manner which lets me have fun. I put things in places that don’t necessarily sound good, or look good. Accessible and open.
    • Coping
      • I have a decent guitar amp in the office, with a pedal board and 3 guitars. I cycle one of the guitars each week from the studio collection.
      • I have a decent bass amp and cab in the office. I cycle out one of my basses each day.
        • I sit with my bass in my lap probably 50% of the day. I’ve always worked that way, and I don’t think it’s gonna change any time soon :)
  • Shop time!
    • Habits
      • 4 hours a week, at least, in the workshop. Aiming for 8, happy with 4.
  • Photography
    • Mechanics
      • I’m investing in better photography equipment, because I enjoy slow-motion and macrophotography. Particularly of musical and woodworking topics.
  • AdmiralBumbleBee.com
    • Habits
      • Write every day - I’ve always written on my iMac Pro in the studio. I’ll be setting up my personal laptop so that I can write on there, and looking into iPad options. This should let me write a bit every day, even if it’s only notes/outlines.
      • Stream of consciousness or “live writing” articles - I’m considering some sort of concept where you can see me progress through an article in near-realtime. Might be fun, and I think having quicker feedback from readers could improve the quality of articles.
    • Mechanics
      • Physically typing - Siri has somehow become worse than it already is, and on my work-laptop it “works”, but I can’t load my giant dictionary properly. I’m totally sick of it.
        • I’m unsure how to deal with this, but I’ve been typing ‘normally’ but slowly and as infrequently as possible. Here are some of the things I’m looking into:
          • Wiring up a MIDI footpedal board for ctrl/alt/super/meta/escape and potentially a “function key” modifier (pedal + 1 = F1). I used to do this, and it was helpful.
          • Take notes in Windows inside a VM using Dragon. This can’t be a long-term solution because of the upcoming mac arm transition.
          • Rely on autocompletion. Ironically this means I’m back to using Emacs as my primary editor. I have a custom dictionary loaded, plus language and context sensitive auto-completion. According to my keylogger, this has reduced the number of letters I type by nearly 70%.
            • I use ctrl-f for completing a word, but this is a terrible shortcut (and because it’s the only shortcut that works in every program I write in, I won’t change it). Setting up a MIDI pedal with a “complete” switch might be helpful.
          • Air Conditioning - I used to wear compression gloves and they helped tremendously. My office is not cool. It has Central AC, but the exterior wall is aluminum and a darker colour. I’m thinking of purchasing a small window unit so that I can wear my compression gloves during the day.
    • Coping
      • I’ve wrote before about difficulty writing articles. I’ve since realized that there’s a more general problem - I’ve allowed this to become a music technology website. It’s MY website, but I’ve stopped writing about things that I do. You miss out on my woodworking projects, electronics projects, my sewing projects, gardening, my knife collection, my pencil collection, etc… I am at the point where I feel like I’m letting someone down if I write about not-music. That’s a bigger problem now more than ever. tldr; I’ll be writing more articles about what I do and what I’m thinking about, even if it’s not music.
        • It’ll probably be music mostly :) It always was, probably always will be, mostly music-related.
      • I’ll be redesigning the site slightly. I want to improve accessibility and ease of use. Fewer clicks to get somewhere, more clearly present what ‘places’ there are to go.
      • I’ll be putting my name and picture more prominently on the site to help signify that this is a person’s website.
      • Patreon - I’m considering shutting down Patreon. Even though there’s only a couple dozen contributors, there is that constant itch that some people are paying for what I will write, rather than what I have contributed thus far. That small amount of pressure bothers me and it’s not worth it. I prefer the “donate once” approach where people can contribute on behalf of something they like that already exists.

Conclusion

That’s it really. I still want to finish DAW v DAW Part 7, but that means stealing back some equipment.

It’s been a big change for me this last month and some of these things have been bothering me for the last year or more. I know that I have a lot of readers that look forward to certain types of content here, but you’re on this journey with me.

I suspect that over time I’ll just accept that I can’t shut down my brain, but first I’d like to see what I can manage. Re-evaluate in a month and see how it’s going.

If you found this interesting, let me know! I can write follow up posts about how I work through my problems, re-think what problems exists, talk about techniques that work or don’t work etc…

Meta

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