Be Counted

In my thirty-five years of teaching college students, Iโ€™ve not encountered a generation as dedicated to making the nation better as yours.

Robert Reich has a message for millenials: register and vote

What a damning indictement of our society, that a number of those of us on the older side feel the need to beg for help from the younger generation… that so many people get older and do one of two things: stop bothering or become nastier. We’re calling for more from the people for whom we ought to be making things better.

History will remember the consecutive string of generations for who their selfish needs were more important than making things better for others, despite the fact we had so much of just about everything.

The question is asked, then: what will you do? Will you add to the pile of shame felt by later generations? Or will you become a counter prevailing force to those who pounce upon opportunities presented to them as a result of apathy, to those who bet on people not caring?

Use these links for help:

For The Weekend: Five

A few things for you:

Enjoy your weekend!

Podcasts are Awesome

I’m kind of lonely. Initially this was largely a matter of choice; even though I am comfortable around other people, often have few issues talking to strangers, and have never gone out of my way to avoid others in a last-second panic or any such situation the truth is I enjoy my own company. Quite a lot, in fact. My preferred environment with friends does not involve a room full of people or more than just a few people at that; once I get past about five or six people the situation becomes much less enjoyable, specifically with regard to actually spending quality time with my friends. The result of all of this being I now find myself somewhat detached from what is considered regular contact with other people and frankly it has been disconcerting to suddenly realise I haven’t had a face-to-face conversation with another person outside of my family for, well, longer than I can even remember right now.

So I’m definitely lonely. It’s not as bad as it might be, all things considered, and there are certainly other people for whom this is a serious problem; I’m not going to pretend I have such a deep problem but it’s still there, tapping me at the back of my head on an increasingly regular basis as of late. I guess that’s middle age calling to say hello?

One of the big reasons as to why this has not become a serious problem and an issue I have become willing to tackle head-on is, simply, podcasts.

There are hours and hours and hours… and hours of conversations between all kinds of people, in different contexts, from years into the recent past and more available with each passing week. They are there, all thanks to podcasts – and of course, mostly thanks to RSS – just waiting to be picked up, and whichever app you choose it is one of the most friction free media consumption experiences available across the whole of the web. Podcasts are fantastic, a whole world of people’s lives into which you can lose yourself, or even simply dip your toe for a limited experience.

The breadth of shows available can feel overwhelming but once you get started it soon becomes apparent all this means is that you are going to find something you enjoy, often more than one thing and in different ways, thus offering at least a partial answer to loneliness; companionship. To be in the presence of others in a manner that is both immediate and distant is tantalising to those of us for whom “simply talking to people” is either difficult or simply not enough; no amount of small talk will make me your friend, nor you mine. Before you know it, you can see the seemingly innumerable supply of podcasts as a number of potential balms to soothe whatever aches your heart on any given day and that is a wonderful feeling to experience.

When considering this idea, this potential… this entire world all of its own there is a temptation to think of this as a bad idea; a distraction from The Real World like much of the rest of the web. Whilst there is some truth to this it is also important to consider that there have been distractions from the world available to us for a long time, much longer in fact than many who would criticise the culture of our modern day care to admit; doing so presents an obvious hole in their reasoning, if we assume the attacks are as shallow as the most popular opinions so often tend to be. As such podcasts could be considered as simply another choice for people to make, a different act to take from the ever-growing list in the modern media-driven world within which we live.

There is no doubt that feeling lonely is not an illness, not always a bad thing, and certainly not a social ill endangering humanity but it certainly can make life much more difficult to live; to be within reach of the rest of the world and yet feel entirely alone is a conflict with which many people are unlikely prepared to wrangle. To ease that difficulty is no small things and I have found podcasts can greatly aide in this task to a degree that much of the rest of the web cannot come close. And for that, for giving me at least the beginnings of a path away from such strange solitude I am forever grateful to those who make this type of media possible. For that, I can only say…

Podcasts are awesome.

Autumn Falls

This is a post about updates in a number of ways.

Let’s start with the overview:

  • Theme: Dark
    • The last version of this site, on WordPress, had a dark theme and I liked it a lot. Now this version of the site, on Micro.blog, has a dark theme and again I am happy with how it has turned out.
  • Social accounts:
    • I am relieved to settle on my usage; minimal and specific.
    • This blog remains core, with Micro.blog being my primary social network; it is the only site where I will not be motivated to move conversation elsewhere, as compared to the alternatives from the mainstream, silo parts of the web.
  • Firebyrd is a new site from my fiancรฉe and I, wherein we link out to our joint projects and provide updates about them. On Micro.blog: @firebyrd
  • Snapshot is my new photoblog.
  • TIL:
    • Menu;
      • Contact moved into About.
      • Updates removed as it is already in the About page.
    • About page reorganised.
    • Continued activity, with newer post types and more imminent.

Taking a break

Now for the detailed part, specifically with regard to a theme I’ve seen lately on my timeline. Namely that of time, focus, and how I can better utilise both of these things to live my life in the way I truly wish.

Daily blogging is first. I’m still writing but microblog posts will become infrequent; this has already been somewhat true so isn’t too much of a change. It could soon become even more obvious, however. This includes replies in conversations, which is the most difficult thing to step away from; I continue to read conversations on Micro.blog at least as much as anything else I read, perhaps even more.

Next is podcasts. Until recently I had over 130 subscriptions, and whilst that is a misleading number in some ways (included completed shows, infrequently posted shows, and shows in which I did not listen to every new episode) it reflected a problem that had crept upon me. Podcasts are wonderful, even more so than video on the web as far as I’m concerned but the truth is that they often carry a hefty time investment and are so very good at plugging into my mind; they had become an example of other people’s thoughts intruding upon my own in a manner that is not conducive to good focus.

I am now subscribed to my 7 favourite shows and even then the highest volume is once per week, with only one opinion-based concept that has the potential to intrude upon my own thoughts. This number may again decrease but I have already felt the benefits of this reduction.

TV and YouTube are in a similar position to podcasts; the former has been severely cut down over the past year (weekly viewing is all but non-existent) whilst the latter is centred around a handful of channel subscriptions, the majority of which have irregular schedules. I have also deleted all but one manual playlist and cut my Watch Later playlist down to a third of its previous size. There is no news-based watching happening at all, whilst opinion-based productions are carefully chosen rather than casually watched.

TV will become almost exclusively just the shows I watch with Claire.

When it comes to reading the web, I am finally choosing to organise my RSS subscriptions and will form an essential collection of feeds for daily reading. This is my primary source of web reading, the medium I have discovered to be the very best.

I am no longer reading social media from a personal account and although those few accounts still exist they are now essentially frozen for the foreseeable future. My work accounts continue to exist, used largely only for posting.

My use of technology has played a part with these changes, inevitably. The introduction of my first iPad into my set up has helped to re-affirm a more focused approach to my average day, whilst my phone software has been minimalised (as can be seen here). I’m also finally going to make a regular habit of taking my laptop to places outside of the home for writing and light tasks, the two types of work to which my Chromebook is limited.

Work has become an area of great improvement, specifically from the viewpoint of there being a much healthier integration into my life. By work I mean that which I am attempting to achieve separately from my primary job as a carer.

I am more focused than ever on completing my objectives with various projects, including blogging middle-to-long length posts which are being made in a more substantial state of mind. This is a sharp contrast to the ephemeral snack-sized efforts encouraged by the demands of The Feed.

Speaking of which, I have never felt less comfortable with the closed silo, short-term, empty information based web; not only do I disagree on a wider philosophical front but it is personally offensive for this to be considered “normal” and “the standard”. That we take this idea, this construct built around sterile ideas and shallow thinking and we call it good is a damning indictment of this point in time, this version of society as we know it.

The other deciding factor in my decision is that I am both needed and wanted more than ever in the physical world, for which I am grateful but also aware of the tangible reality here; to function well is to be focused and clear, deliberate and without a constant stream of small distractions – I will remember this time in my life and it won’t be because of the latest viral video, tweetstorm, or latest round of Lighting The Dumpster Aflame.


Inspirations for this post include Patrick Rhone, CGP Grey, and many of the fine folks in my Micro.blog timeline.

Regular blogging is such a good hobby for writers. Focus, discipline, and repeated practise all built into one activity.

I have now watched and listened to the introduction of Pumat Sol on Critical Role a few times each. Matt Mercer is just… astonishing.

For The Weekend: Three

A few things for you:

  • Preparing for the fall is a meditation of sorts on the inevitable change brought about by the passing of time. Sameer strikes words to page like no other and this is certainly no exception.
  • Handbooker Helper is a video series by the folks at Critical Role. Whether you’re new to the hobby or looking to refresh your knowledge, it’s a great way to quickly gain a grasp on the fundamentals of tabletop role-playing.
  • Pumat Sol is a character in the Critical Role series. Introduced here in the second campaign, the NPC is brought to life in a way that only Matt Mercer could manage; I’ve yet to see a limit to his creative talents.
  • Kohan Ikin is working on a desktop app for Micro.blog, and he’s attempting to make it an actual cross-platform option. He’s also on Micro.blog (@syneryder) and providing updates on the progress of the project.
  • Jean MacDonald; German word generator.

Enjoy your weekend!

Mood:

Clicking ‘Show More’ again and again and again and again and again…

We finally, somewhat inevitably started watching Critical Role.

How is traditional TV still in business?

Is there a German word for that feeling you get when you realise you have forgotten the colour hex codes from a previous long term project?

For the first Micro Monday of October let’s talk about @vasta. Sameer writes with extraordinary depth, thinks of others first when taking part in conversaitons, and finds a way to talk about a variety of subjects and issues without wasting a single word. Simply, brilliant.