131/2024 – More Randomness

So often I’m torn between

  • sharing rather ordinary moments or musing here, like I see / read others do on their blogs, which I enjoy reading and
  • doing something more “worthwhile” with my time like reading or doodling to calm my mind. Chores like cleaning my windows do not enter my mind as alternative. Go figure.

What often keeps me from writing is that I think others do it so much better! They lead more interesting lives and have more interesting things to say and of course are much more eloquent than me. Back in the day, over a decade ago when I started blogging, that did not stop me. On the contrary, I wrote and reviewed and shared and all that and I have no idea when I lost that impulse? My writing couldn’t have got worse over the years, could it? So I guess it must have been the nagging voice in my mind telling me that my ideas and stories and random musings are boring and worthless. A case of late on-set importier syndrome maybe, which is weird, because I’ve been struggling with lack of self-esteem even back then, but it obviously did not keep me from blogging. I might need to investigate that further.

I finished reading “Just One Damn Thing After Another”, the first book in the “The Chronicles of St. Mary’s” series and very much enjoyed it. I had heard about the series a long time ago, but hesitated to start, because I felt like I had lost my interest in this kind of fantasy/sci-fi genre a while ago as it sometimes happens. But I read it and had fun and liked the characters and want to know what happens next, so I looked for the 2nd book online. First in my usual – non-Amazon – bookstores, where they had the digital version for about 7 € available right away. Digital would have been the sensible way to go as there are so far about 15 books in the series. That’s more than one shelf. Shelf space I do not really have at the moment. The paperback was about 13 € and had to be ordered with a delivery time of 2-3 weeks. Which still would have been fine as I did not NEED to read the 2nd book right away.

I did check on Amazon last to see if they might have a different offer / faster delivery available. Ehm, well, they did. I mean WTF?

Screenshot of Amazon offer the first 10 books of the Chronicles of St Mary series
What a pretty book set

Even considering that I already own the first of those ten books that’s still a brilliant deal. How could I say no to that? I obviously couldn’t. Damn my lack of impulse control. And Amazon! The set will be here tomorrow if all goes to plan. While I was looking for a good website to link to at the beginning of this section I saw that there is a short story prequel for the first one, which should be read AFTER the first one, so I’m going to do that today. Again this story was only properly available through Amazon (Kindle in this case.) *sigh*

Yesterday was a public holiday here in Germany so I spend it being a bit lazy. Catching up with my collection of bookmarked news articles, podcasts (though at the moment I find it hard to focus on those and stay with them and not stop and do something else), more of my current read – “What Happened to Ruthy Ramirez” which I finished this morning. Here is my review.

While I was contemplating to write my usual album review of the new Frank Turner album, I also considered stopping to use a 5-star rating system for any kind of reviews in the future. This was inspired by something Christian wrote on his [German] blog a while ago. But also from going through all the my books on Storygraph (imported from Goodreads) and tagging them in a nerdy attempt to create some stats later on. In the process I see all my various star ratings and often enough wonder why I rated these books this way. Even more so when the profile page shows me random 5 star rated books from my collection and I do wonder why I thought those books were so much better than others? Don’t get me wrong I do remember having enjoyed those books, but all in all a rating is always just a snapshot in time, isn’t it? I looked into why and how other people rate books or why they don’t and I came across a good explanation to stop rating books in any kind of numerical or other system. I’ll just have to work a bit harder to gather my thoughts on what I read, but that will be a good thing. I hope.

On Instagram I recently mused if or when I will lose interest in doodling random stuff to relax and recharge. When I was looking for a new / better fountain pen in a stationary store on Wednesday after work I discover a new collection of pens, which look amazing, are a tiny bit more eco friendly (cap and barrel from recycled plastic) and made in Germany, thus not flown in from China or anywhere else. So I bought a few to try them out and have been doodling quite a bit yesterday. There are worse things to spend time with, right?

Three pens of different blues with their caps on but also a test of the colour on a piece of paper
Shades of Blue

One other thing I did on the day off yesterday was continue with my online photography class, which I booked a while ago on Udemy. I had been looking for course options offline as well, but didn’t find one that suited my needs and this online company with many courses on many subjects seemed trustworthy enough. I like it so far and I even send in my first “homework” yesterday after the basic “exposure triangle” lesson. I have no idea if I’ll actually get a feedback from the instructors or just from fellow students or from some AI.

This was one of my three photos, not the most interesting / beautiful setting, but I was purposefully trying to have the water in the background a bit blurry and not as sharp as the foreground. And that worked at least. Manual Mode, ISO 100, F 5.0, 1/100.

Shot of a brook nearby
Purposefully blurry background

127/2024 – Undefeated: Lyrical History of Mankind – First Findings (Song 1 – 7)

I had a very different post in mind for today. Musings on how social media has changed over the years (for the worse, clearly). About how much time these past few days I wasted drafting a derisive and passiv-aggressive reply or maybe a whole blog post to react to some trolls. Musings about my inherent hypocrisy, because while the argument in my head dismisses them for being losers for spending their time posting replies on every social media post, wanting to write a long blog post about it all isn’t really that much better. Nor is it any good for my mental health. I sometimes find it difficult to look away though, like the people slowing down on the the motorway to gawk at the emergency on the opposite side of the road. I really dislike those people and I’m ashamed I online sometimes seem to be one of them.

Frank Turner, Live April 2022
Frank Turner, Live April 2022

So… History Bits & Bobs in “Undefeated” Lyrics. I’ve found a few so far, but I’m not sure I’ll include them all in an updated version of a revised “Frank Turner’s Lyrical of Mankind” in the end. Some could be considered colloquial metaphors and thus not really a historical reference as such.

There are at least two more that Frank himself alluded to in some of the many, many, many album release interviews I’ve listened to. According to him there is some Gabriel García Márquez and the lines “Grateful that you got this far and proud that you behaved no worse” in “Undefeated” are inspired by something Clive James wrote once. I have no idea in which poem though. Nor if it was a poem at all or an essay or whatever. Frank didn’t elaborate on that 🙂

Anyway, here were the current findings for the first half. On 12 May 2024 I merged it with the “B-Side” in this post here.

126/2024 – “It’s the Things You Choose To Do”

Lyrics: “Do One” – Frank Turner, 2024

A good night’s sleep does wonder for my mood. I should try to get enough sleep more often. Duh! Why do the most basic things to improve mood and mental health sometimes still feel so difficult to achieve? Or is that just me?

I usually try to not look at my phone / social media first thing in the morning. Bathroom, coffee, meditation first. Today though I had to check up on Frank’s world record journey and was thrilled to see that around 9:00 my time he was still on track. In the early afternoon he had done it. World record holder Frank Turner. Never thought I’d type that to be honest. Congrats!

While sipping my (first) coffee I made a list of what I wanted to do today, not a to-do-list as such, but more sketching out blocks of time for this or that on a make-shift-daily planner on a journal page. It worked well for the most part so far. It feels a bit stupid for lack of better word, but this bit of self-imposed structure seems to help a bit.

One block of time was for writing down first thoughts about each track of “Undefeated” for my album review, which will come at some point. Not for a while though, because trying to gather my thoughts about some songs tends to cause an avalanche of introspection and tangents about my own psyche and there is no place for that in an album review.

I’ve also made time to read some of the many news articles saved in my feedreader. Articles about

  • life in the city vs the countryside,
  • how primary schools react to the political demand of more Math and less Musical education,
  • people taking part in a Universal basic income study
  • Ryan Gosling

Re: current news, of course Israel/Gaza is always in the back of my mind and so many times I start drafting a comment / argument on one aspect or another. But it always quickly feel like the argument falls short, because I just don’t know enough, even as much as I read about it.

The “A Muslim & A Jew Go There” podcast is a good way to learn more about different perspectives on Israel/Gaza, but also hear important views on racism against minorities (in the UK, but the situation is similar elsewhere I’d say). I’m still two episodes behind, but I’m planning to catch up.

While I was listening to one of those podcast episodes I kept working on my latest “Zendoodle” or whatever to call the activity. I sometimes forget that I better cover the rest of the page with a tissue when I put my hand down on it to easier fill the blanks.

Photo of colour specks on my hand from the doodle
the “dangers” of this craft

The day ended with a concert of movie / musical scores in a nearby theatre. As someone who can’t really play any instrument nor has a lot of knowledge about making any kind of music, hearing / seeing an orchestra is always fascinating to me. The conductor this time also was rather active on his podium, more so than I have seen others before. I quite enjoyed watching him, even though I had no idea how conducting an orchestra actually works.

And is there any movie theme more heartbreaking than “Schindler’s List”? I doubt it. It’s not even that I see sad scenes from the movie in my mind or any other images from that horrible time. The melody on violin is enough to bring tears to my eyes. The power of music, I guess.