Less is still less

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I’ve recently donated a few books and some clothes to charity, sold a couple of no longer used items on Gumtree, and all because I bought a new water bottle to use at work; a 1 litre Camelbak Chute (yes the type of water bottle is important in this context, or at least, the design of it is).

I drink a lot of water thanks to being on a diuretic and to working in a perpetually warm office, so I drink at least 2 litres of water at work every day. The Camelbak Chute was a deliberate upgrade on my older (smaller) water bottle, which was cheap and would occasionally leak so I plumped for a better designed water bottle and was happy to pay a little extra for it.

The water bottle is one of those things I use everyday and, whilst it is performing a simple function, I like the form factor. It feels robust, the cap clicks in to the lid so you don’t lose it, and I especially like the fact the water pours out of it as opposed to the slow gurgle of the last one. I’m not quite sure it’s bringing me Kondo-esque joy but it’s definitely been a simple, happy, purchase that I appreciate every day.

It’s a small example of focussing on better, nicer, things that I’ve been increasingly conscious of since moving to a smaller flat.

In fact I was so impressed with it I bought a second (smaller) version to use at home and at the gym. Again, this is replacing a cheaper water bottle I picked up in Primark and, again, it feels like a big upgrade for such a simple item. It really is the little things, right?

After making my purchases, the two old water bottles sat forlornly on the kitchen window ledge for a couple of weeks until I realised I was just-in-case-ing them. I do not need four water bottles, hell I don’t really need one, but I can justify two (one stays at work, one stays at home). Yet for some reason I didn’t get rid of the other two for quite a while.

Thankfully the cheaper, now unused, water bottles were recycleable so off they went into the recycle bin and as I looked around I realised that, since moving flat and starting to replace old for ‘new and improved’ I had more things lying around that I no longer needed.

What else was lying there unused? Three recently read books on a shelf, a mirror propped against the wall in the bedroom, shirts I no longer fit in (because they are TOO BIG! HUZZAH!!), and a few other bits and bobs. It felt good to have a wee mini-clear out and that’s before I go back through some of the boxes of stuff I brought from my old flat and left to look at later.

Long-term I’m looking to focus more on replacing larger pieces of furniture but I’m going to try and do a more regular sweep of the things I own and make sure that I don’t end up with a flat full of stuff I don’t need or use.

All of that thanks to a simple purchase of something new.

And yes, this is all very much #firstworldproblems

Do something new

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It’s a slow slow process, changing your behaviours. Especially given that I’ve honed mine with decades of practice, all driven by a set of internal rules that have governed every waking second since I was a child. It takes time, but it is happening. Slowly.

A lot of the focus of my counselling has been on self-compassion. Letting myself fail, not predicting the outcome of things in advance, stepping back when I’m under stress, and learning how to live in the moment. I’ve been able to identify various mechanisms that I have in place which, when flight or fight is triggered, can lead to “not good things”. For me it these “not good things” tend not to be displayed quickly (I can be short tempered and grumpy but that isn’t actually one of the signs) instead I’ll have some epic, private, blow-ups that very few people have had the misfortune to see/deal with.

The counselling isn’t easy, or rather keeping an eye on my emotions and reactions isn’t easy, but the whole experience has been worthwhile. It’s not over yet, this is a journey and all that, and for those who know me well, no, you probably can’t see any real difference in me day to day but trust me, it is working, I can feel the difference.

A small example which may mean nothing to you but is A BIG DEAL for me; I no longer break down my every waking hour into 30 minute segments, nor do I check the clock every 5 mins. Equally I’ve been late for a couple of things by a few minutes (things with fluid start times, like ‘I’ll be at your place at 2ish’ now mean just that, not 2pm on the dot…).

So the short version of the above is that there’s a lot of stuff that has been going on and it’s going well. I’m feeling good, balanced, calm and the hard work is paying off. Go me!

Chatting to my counsellor last week and one thing she pointed out – or rather guided me to realise – was that I’m still operating in my ‘comfort zone’. It’s easier to catch myself before I head into fight/flight mode because I’m at the same place of work, or with the same group of people, so I have a level of comfort and familiarity which makes it easier to process my emotions in those spaces.

Next up I need to get out of my comfort zone and find some new things to try.

Current ideas are:

  • Get a piano and sign up for piano lessons.
  • Go for a weekend spiritual retreat.
  • Attend a creative writing course.

The piano idea is a big one. I had lessons and passed most of the exams when I was a kid. Going back to it would mean confronting the fact I ‘failed’ at it (because I gave it up when I was 14) and let my parents down (which I didn’t at all, but my inner critic will gleefully grab anything it can to throw in my way). But… I remember that I did enjoy it at times, particularly as I got more advanced and started to move away from the purely classical pieces and on to tackling things like The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, and some Billy Joel tracks (yes yes, the Piano Man, I know).

The weekend spiritual retreat is the ‘easiest’ as it is really an extension, or heightening, of my current meditiation habit (which has built to almost every day, even if only for 10 mins or so) but it would be unfamiliar and lead me to confront myself even more which, in itself, would be a challenge. 10 mins of meditation is calming, a full weekend could be very revealing and painful. But that’s kinda the point.

Lastly the creative writing course sounds interesting and fun but I’ll need to watch out I’m not approaching it with the mindset of ‘not failing’ it. Equally, given I have a wonky/shoddy first draft of a short novel written, how is that going to look? Ahhh but that’s my inner critic at work again, who cares about the first draft, it is not something to be judged, instead I WROTE THE FIRST DRAFT OF A NOVEL is where my focus should be (and is, I’m really proud I managed that).

I’ve not decided which (all?) of these to try and I might end up doing something else completely, but given where I am now, compared to where I was when I started the counselling, I’m excited to push things on and see how it goes. After all, what’s the worse that can happen?

I also realise that I’m becoming more and more a walk cliche of ‘live for today’, ‘be in the now’, and more, but the weird thing about cliches is that, a lot of the time, they are actually true.

In other news, all those people who say to eat healthily and be more active are on to something… but that’s a different post for another day.

Weekend Reading

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  • From Xena to Wonder Woman: The Physics of Female Fighters
    General Antiope (Robin Wright) moves seamlessly among the training Amazons, checking each move, giving directions for correction where necessary. The women’s moves are accurate and dynamic, often closely resembling contemporary dance or professional gymnastics.
    Yet another reason why WW is kicking ass (it’s also just passed Deadpool for highest grossing accolades)

  • Critic’s Notebook: The Post-Review, Post-Premiere, Post-Finale World of Peak TV
    I tried to take a vacation — well, more accurately, a “staycation” — last week. Pretty much any TV critic can tell you how that went. Badly. Unless you’re in the woods, on some distant island or in a foreign country, the remote is too close.
    Couldn’t agree with this more, and I think it’s odd when some shows are still ‘weekly episodes’ (hi American Gods, lookin’ at you!)

  • The Algorithms Behind Moana’s Gorgeously Animated Ocean
    Disney’s engineers used special software to make a magical, authentic body of water. In the early days, when motion pictures were still new, filming the ocean was a radical idea.
    Not seen this yet (not sure why not) but whoa how beautiful does it look!

  • Inside the extreme Facebook fandom for old rental VHS tapes
    Featuring a £360 Jaws tape, four rooms full of 10,000 videos, and a man known only as “The Mayor”. On a sunny September day in 2016, Scott Bates stood in a Doncaster parking lot, waiting for a delivery of 1,250 VHS tapes.
    I remember taking a couple of boxes of VHS tapes to the dump about 10 years ago…

  • Green Day Crowd Singing Bohemian Rhapsody
    Between the Foos covering Under Pressure at Glasto and stuff like this, a Queen renaissance happening? Miss you Freddie!

  • Whodunnits : Five Books
    Looking down your list, most of these books are more than half a century old. That’s true actually, now you come to mention it.
    Who doesn’t love a well curated list. This site has LOADS of them (but this is the link that took me to it in the first place)

  • Hollywood Has a Bad-Movie Problem
    Domestic audiences are rejecting this summer’s procession of tired sequels, and international grosses won’t be enough to keep studios afloat forever. Take a quick glance at the box-office returns for June, and you could draw an easy conclusion: Hollywood has a franchise problem.
    One word: Transformers.

  • Nest Founder: “I Wake Up In Cold Sweats Thinking, What Did We Bring To The World?”
    Tony Fadell’s wife likes to remind him when their three children’s eyes are glued to their screens that it’s at least partly his fault. Hard to argue.
    Realising I rarely link to articles on the flip side of this, the internet can be good!

  • If information overload is stressing you out, go on a silence diet
    In the beginning, there was the word. Now, there’s a deluge of language. On average, Americans consume 34 gigabytes of content and encounter 100,000 written words from various sources in a single day.
    Remember when this blog was called Informationally Overloaded? Was a drop in the ocean!

  • STOP SCREAMING IN MY HOME
    Creators of content on the internet are very commonly creators of community. Often times, this community is the most interesting and the most valuable part of making stuff, and many creators require that relationship to inspire them to make stuff.
    Dealing with hatred online is never easy because cattle prods can’t reach through the screen… yet…

  • The Hacker Who Cared Too Much
    One afternoon in a modest, hilltop home in West Hartford, Connecticut, Linda Pelletier, a sandy-blond mother of four, opened a greeting card from her 15-year-old daughter, Justina. To her surprise, a small, intricately folded piece of paper slipped out from inside. It was an origami fortune teller.
    This is not the story you think it’s going to be. Heartwrenching.

  • Mindfulness: It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
    Here’s an old post on mindfulness, revamped now that I’m returning to the topic for the 2nd edition of my book Rewriting the Rules. What makes something mindful or mindless? I’ve been interested in mindfulness for many years now.
    Yes to this, many times over! Your mindfulness is not my mindfulness.

  • I reverse-engineered Buzzfeed’s most viral posts and the truth is shocking!
    Anyone who has ever produced content for the web knows how torturously tough it is to even get people to click on your post and read it; forget going viral, especially when you don’t have any furs in your content. (Read: Cats and dogs, who seem to have a god-given right to internet virality).
    Probably a ‘must read’ if you’ve used the internet at all in the last few years!

  • This app is trying to replicate you
    Hi Mike, how’s it going? Pretty good.
    The geek in me loves this. The paranoid sceptic in me is running away.

  • Toy Story lessons for the Internet of Things
    Have you ever thought of the Toy Story films as sci fi? I think they have many interesting themes that could apply to the Internet of Things.
    Bit of a stretch but hey, who doesn’t love Toy Story, right?

  • The case for taking forever to finish reading books
    For a long time I’ve been reading one book. It’s been five years since I started In Search of Lost Time, and I’m only two-thirds the way through. That’s fine with me.
    See also: the case for just stop reading that book if you aren’t enjoying it (hi there, The Sellout, looking at you!)

  • Why do we still insist on calling women “Miss” or “Mrs”? 
    “And is it ‘Miss’ Wilkinson or ‘Mrs’?” the woman serving me at my local bank asks. “It’s ‘Ms’,” I reply. She gives me a strange look, then responds coolly: “I’ll put ‘Miss’. ‘Ms’ is only for divorced women and you look way young to be divorced.”
    I did a learn (it’s what us privileged types should do).

  • The 100 Greatest Props in Movie History, and the Stories Behind Them
    They’re found on dusty warehouse shelves; buried under flea market knick-knacks; Googled, Ebayed, begged for; commissioned from blacksmiths, painters, and model makers for one-time use; and constructed out of whatever $5 can buy at the local craft store.
    Geek alert, geek alert! I FUCKIN LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!

  • Scientists teleport particle into space in major breakthrough for quantum physics
    Scientists have successfully teleported something into space for the first time ever. The experiment saw Chinese scientists send a photon up away from Earth, further than ever before.
    Whoa. Sci-fi is now just Sci.

  • Successful solo polyamory and control
    There are a few things to address here that have to do with what you’ve chosen and how you go about what you’re hoping to achieve. I’m assuming that by choosing to do solo polyamory that you have thought about why polyamory is the right approach for you and what it means for you.
    Breadcrumb for myself mostly…

  • This is the worst 20 seconds of soccer ever
    It’s “the beautiful game”—apart from those times when it’s not.
    Can’t stop watching! HILARIOUS BADLY!!

A week off

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(aka a wee cough)

With 10 weeks of BootCamp behind me, I was looking forward to changing up my exercise routine, trying some of the other classes at the gym, and getting out on my bike ahead of this years Pedal for Scotland.

Mostly though, I was just chuffed that I had stumbled into what I believe is called an ‘exercise routine’ and so it was a pretty easy to just keep going and keep up the same habits I’d had to adopt during BootCamp. I was working on the basis that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and I was feeling great; logging my food, exercising and meditating regularly, and all was good with the world.

For about a week or so.

Then along came the summer lurgy which wiped me out for a couple of weeks and I’ll admit that there was some bigly wagon off falling for me. Exercise routine, food logging, meditation, all (like Keyser Söze) gone.

Go big or go home is a ‘motto’ that I’ve embraced since first hearing it when I was getting a tattoo done. Go big or go home! No point in doing something if you aren’t all in, right?

And boy oh boy was I all in, embracing my now wagon-less state.

I did no exercise, stopped cooking for myself and ordered takeaway food most nights of the week. I also bought and ate my body-weight in crisps and chocolate and, as I was sleeping most of the time when I wasn’t working, did little to no meditation. In no surprise to anyone I put on some weight, which I expected, but only served to re-enforce the feeling that the previous 10 weeks had been for nothing (which I know isn’t true but tell my inner critic that, I daresya).

Equally as the lurgy robbed me of pretty much any energy at all, my flat got messy, dishes piled up, clothes went unwashed. Go big or go home! And boy did I ever, almost revelling in how fully I was embracing slob life.

Who’s that gut lord marching, you should cut down on your porklife mate, get some exercise! SLOB LIFE!

Of course the lurgy passed, and when it did I tidied and cleaned my flat, I washed the Ben Nevis stack of dishes, then emptied my cupboards of crap and bought my body-weight in chicken, tuna, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and fruit. And, in an effort to hop back on that exercise bandwagon again, I did what any sane* person would do and promptly signed up for the next session of BootCamp.

I know, I know, I know I said I wasn’t going to but after doing a couple of Conditioning and Strength classes I realised that I actually prefer the HIIT format and missed the camaraderie of being in a large group of nutters all trying not to die whilst exercising muscles that we didn’t even know existed.

Plus my best mate had already signed up so it would be a nice surprise for him…

And lo, because I’m doing BootCamp I’m once again eating better to make sure I have enough fuel to survive each session, and my flat is constantly tidy again because… well, because I’m not ill and tend to be tidy anyway… but that’s by the by. Equally, I now have a ’10 week goal’ which I’ll use to game myself to be healthy and lose a little more weight again, even though that isn’t really the goal at all as I now have enough energy to get on with stuff which, in turn, also makes it easier for me to deal with my aforementioned inner critic.

Admittedly, I am a little worried about my psyche as BootCamp is HARD (Go big or go home, right!) but then I’ve always enjoyed a little pain and suffering so I’m not really all that surprised.

There you have it then, a week or so of being ill, of beating myself up for failing, quickly put behind me this too is a new thing and I’m liking it, onwards band-wagon, ho!

All of the above means I’m back to Wednesday evening and Saturday morning BootCamp sessions, and this time I’m also doing a Conditioning class every Monday evening. Which, as one of the trainers suggested, is “mental” but hey, I’m back in the groove so why the hell not. Go big or… you get the picture.

And finally, because this is important for me and my state of mind (hush up, inner critic!), this was pretty much a spur of the moment decision. I didn’t look ahead at my calendar to see how many Friday nights out I have in the coming weeks, I didn’t look at what else was happening on Wednesday evenings that I might have scheduled, I just booked it knowing I’d sort that stuff out at a later date. And that, for this perfectionist and consistent planner, is very much a win and a further sign that the counselling is paying off.

In short (tl;dr) I’m allowing myself to feel proud of me (it feels weird!) and not letting a few days of being ill set me back.

Now, I just need someone remind me of all of this when I’m struggling to climb four flights of stairs when I get to work…

* yes, this is a new definition of sane. You do have to be a specific kind of lunatic to do BootCamp

TRNSMT Festival : Radiohead

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Last Friday I took a day off work to go and walk about Glasgow Green, on the opening day of the inaugural year of TRNSMT Festival.

And no, I don’t know why they don’t like vowels.

The festival ran the entire weekend – with Kasabian and Biffy Clyro the headliners on Saturday and Sunday respectively – but I was happy enough to score a one day ticket, ostensibly to see one of my favourite all-time bands, Radiohead. The last time I saw them was also at Glasgow Green, on a dreich evening with a weird atmosphere, and it was a bit of a disappointment. Not so this time round!

I arrived around 3pm, quickly made it through security (well organised and friendly too) and set about exploring the site just as Everything Everything started their set. Aside from the main stage, there was a second smaller stage sponsored by King Tuts, the Jack Rocks tent (guess the bourbon sponsor for that one), and the Smirnoff DJ bus. Given the size of the site, I think the layout was ideal, it didn’t feel crammed and there weren’t any noticeable pinch points either. Admittedly that may have changed during the downpours on Sunday.

The line-up on Friday was a bit of a mixed bag for my tastes but I was suitably impressed with what I heard from Rag N Bone man (that guy has got a set of pipes) and although London Grammar sounded very beautiful it seemed an odd choice for a main stage (clearly I was in a minority given the crowds). I spent more time in the early afternoon at the King Tuts stage listening to Be Charlotte, Saint Motel, Honne, and Louis Berry. I even managed to squeeze in a couple of wanders back to the Jack Rocks tent (and so discovered The Sundowners and Black Honey).

A minor criticism would be the on-stage timings; It seemed, more than once, that all the live acts finished their sets around the same time meaning there was a lull in proceedings across the site. It was at those times that I, and many others, gravitated towards the thumping bass emanating from the Smirnoff dance bus, hidden away in a wee glade down next to the river, which had a constant stream of DJs lined up.

It was great to see local businesses strongly represented on-site, with many of the food stalls given over to the likes of Marthas and Nomad, and overall it seemed pretty well organised, even if they were a couple of minor last minute fixes going on (one of which to put up some screening round the gents urinals!).

So far, I was enjoying my afternoon, wandering around and soaking in the fun, friendly, atmosphere, itself a nice change from the moronity that T in the Park had become.

And then, all of a sudden, it was time for Radiohead.

First things first, no, they didn’t play Creep. I wasn’t that bothered myself, although it would’ve been good to hear the mass sing-a-long it would have started. Ohhh and they didn’t play Just either, not that anyone seems to mind that (except me).

It was about 9.40pm when they crept on-stage and immediately launched into two tracks from OK Computer; Let Down which worked surprisingly well as a set opener, and then Lucky which soared much higher than it does on the album.

From there they ran the gamut of newer tracks and fan favourites, treating us to the full range of the exploration and sonic devices they’ve toyed with from OK Computer onwards. There, There and 2 + 2 = 5 were nice reminders that when they put their mind to it they are a very good rock band, Ful Stop and Everything In Its Right Place pushing them out into thumping bass driven dance music, all underpinned by that ridiculous voice that seems to be getting better and richer with age.

One thing you cannot say Thom Yorke lacks is emotion (even if it’s very controlled), and whilst the crowd interaction was minimal, the big screens showed his commitment and love of what he was doing with smiles and fond glances out to the crowd. In fact everyone on-stage looked like they were having fun, with pleny of smiles going round from band member to band member. Age changes us all? A happy Radiohead?

Two encores zipped us back to OK Computer, with a huge roar for Paranoid Android and, yes, I shed a tear when they played Fake Plastic Trees* (I always do), and then it was a quick final trip back to The Bends before a rousing send-off with perennial favourite Karma Police, the crowd well enough versed to continue repeating the final refrain as the band left the stage.

And then it was all over and, as I sat on the last bus home I realised just how perfectly that final song had captured my experience. For one day, in the heart of my home city, wandering round a festival site, bumping into friends, chatting to strangers, enjoying cider in the early evening sun, I was transported out of the city and into the festival bubble where I happily lost myself, if only for a few hours.

* bonus, all three Glasto performances sync’d in one video

Weekend Reading

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  • Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?
    There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes.
    Where is the big switch that flips all this? PLEASE!

  • The Strange History of ‘O Canada’
    By the time my family moved to Quebec in 1968, the province had long since stopped singing Canada’s national anthem. At age seven, I attended an English public school on the south shore of Montreal.
    I get the feeling most national anthems go through similar ebbs and flows. Now, about Flower of Scotland.

  • Roxane Gay’s Complicated “Hunger”
    Roxane Gay has several personae, but she first garnered Internet fame as a diarist.
    Brutal honest writing. May not be an easy read for some, but you should try.

  • Nina Simone in Liberia
    Someone who knew Nina Simone well—a Liberian friend of hers, I suppose a mutual friend now—told me a story. Liberia’s past is in pieces, he said, and here’s one of them. Maybe it’s the one you’re looking for.
    I love these types of articles, that build a fuller picture of someone so iconic (about whom my knowledge is scant)

  • This Is Why The Minions Are So Popular
    I played a clip of the Minions covering the Beach Boys hit “Barbara Ann” and instructed my classroom of 4- and 5-year-olds to sing along.
    Banana? BAAANNAAANNNAAAAA (my first introduction to these mental yellow dudes)

  • From Ptolemy to GPS, the Brief History of Maps
    We now have the whole world in our hands, but how did we get here? Last spring, a 23-year-old woman was driving her car through the Ontario town of Tobermory. It was unfamiliar territory for her, so she was dutifully following her GPS.
    Who doesn’t love a map? Who doesn’t struggle with GPS directions? Ohhh just me…??

  • Lectureporn: The Vulgar Art of Liberal Narcissism
    Joan Didion began covering political campaigns in 1988. By then, she had switched to being a Democrat, which did little to change her views of the world or change her life in any tangible way. This made her incredibly skeptical about America’s two-party system.
    Is THIS the problem with liberals? Perhaps. I know the flags go up for me when the words start to ‘flourish’.

  • The chills we get from listening to music are a biological reaction to surprise
    Think of your favorite song of all time. Play it, even. Take a moment to get lost in the rhythm, the melody, the lyrics, and whatever they make you feel. Good to go? Great.
    Radiohead, Just. Metallica, Nothing Else Matters. Every time. Goosebumps.

  • Eight Bites
    As they put me to sleep, my mouth fills with the dust of the moon. I expect to choke on the silt but instead it slides in and out, and in and out, and I am, impossibly, breathing. Back on Earth, Dr. U is inside me. Her hands are in my torso, her fingers searching for something.
    An insider view of bariatric surgery (not LITERALLY inside… sheesh, and ewwww).

  • Knife-wielding stabbing machine could help solve violent crimes
    When a person gets stabbed, rips in the victim’s clothing may contain clues to help catch the attacker.
    Ohhh a robot… an ARMED robot! Yes, of course this is a wonderful idea…

  • From the Quiet of Wimbledon, the Loud Groan of the Crowd
    Tradition is as much a part of the Wimbledon experience as the grass itself, from the predominantly white clothing rule to the strawberries and cream sold around the grounds of the All England Club.
    Ahhh yes, the politely mannered British at their… best?

  • This Insane Greek Fireworks Battle Puts Your July 4th to Shame
    Every Easter on the Greek island of Chios, two churches host an ancient ritual in which residents on either side of town fire some 100,000 handmade rockets at the bell tower of the opposing church — while worship takes place inside.
    WHOOAAAA!

  • Faster Than the Speed of Sound: An Interview with Holly Maniatty
    Holly Maniatty is moving faster than anyone in the Wu-Tang Clan. She bounces up and down, her whole body undulates, her hands fly as she signs, her eyes flare precisely, her mouth articulates the lyrics.
    ASL at a rap concert. A whole level of skill and hard work (video)

  • Exile in Guyville
    For Interview magazine, singer-songwriter Liz Phair talks with author Elizabeth Wurtzel, whose first book, Prozac Nation: Young and Depressed in America, originally published in 1997, has just been re-released with a new afterword by the author.
    Never read Prozac Nation, but big fan of Liz Phair.

  • Itamar Simonson: What Makes People Collect Things?
    Everyone knows someone who collects things — whether it’s refrigerator magnets or political bumper stickers.
    Hello Kitty, football shirts, a lot of collections in the news this week, but why?

  • New map records massacres of Aboriginal people in Frontier Wars
    Rottnest Island: Black prison to white playground Related Story: Claims Tasmania’s Aboriginal naming policy not inclusive Related Story: What are kids today learning about Tasmania’s Aboriginal history?
    Righting historical wrongs. White men have a lot to answer for.

  • Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways
    In the fall of 1989 Princeton University welcomed into its freshman class a young man named Alexi Santana, whose life story the admissions committee had found extraordinarily compelling. He had barely received any formal schooling.
    Turns out it’s not just because your pants are on fire (which never made any sense anyway)

  • How Ford’s New CEO Plans To Beat Tesla, Uber, And Google
    In April 2017, the Ford Motor Company–114 years old, the second largest carmaker in the country behind General Motors, a stalwart of American manufacturing–was suddenly worth less than 14-year-old Tesla.
    Smart. New CEO. One to watch?

  • People are now snorting chocolate to get high
    It really is nose candy. Coco Loko — a “snortable” blend of cacao powder, plants and organic compounds like ginkgo biloba, taurine and guarana — is getting buzz as a drug-free high.
    What the… I mean… what?

  • Why You Will One Day Have a Brain Computer Interface
    Implanting a microchip inside the brain to augment its mental powers has long been a science fiction trope. Now, the brain computer interface is suddenly the hot new thing in tech. This spring, Elon Musk started a new company, Neuralink, to do it.
    Science fiction is faster and faster becoming science fact. This is fascinating, scary, and exciting.

  • Why Are So Many Bottles “Sqround”?
    They’ve all embraced the same type of bottle for their products. It’s not exactly a square. And it’s not exactly round. “The official term is ‘sqround,’” says John Zelek, Senior Creative at Soylent. The company’s new bottles are shipping now.
    No no no. NO. Sqround is NOT A WORD!!

Upcoming gigs

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Turns out I’ve been stealthily filling my calendar with gigs, so much so that I almost repeated my epic fail of last year by double booking two on the same night (sorry Wolf Alice but War on Drugs beat you to the date this year).

The list, so far…

And yes, this is exactly why I preface calendar events with an emoji.

And for a nice change, most of the bands listed above I’ve never seen live before. Weezer and Gorillaz being the stand outs; Weezer are one of those ‘how have I NOT seen you live before now’ kinda bands for me given I’ve been perennial favourites for coughs 20 years?

Elsewhere, the last time I saw Radiohead at Glasgow Green it was… interesting … and a bit of a (literal) damp squib so hopefully this time round (this Friday!) it’ll be better. If they put on a show half as good as their Glastonbury headline set from last weekend we are in for a treat.

Having seen Royal Blood at the Barrowlands I’m intrigued as to how they will ‘fill’ the Hydro sound/performance wise but their Glastonbury set suggests it won’t be a problem!

Then there is the small matter of Band of Skulls at a tiny venue in deepest darkest Paisley, the ever wonderful KT Tunstall at the Kelvingrove bandstand (please don’t rain!), and Grizzly Bear I’ve seen before but will need to get back to their stuff as it’s been a while but their gig was a fun one. Not the most eclectic list of gigs ever, but I don’t care. If 2016 taught me anything it’s GO AND SEE LIVE MUSIC WHILE YOU CAN!

And yes, I AM considering Katy Perry tickets.

If you are going along to any of these, gimme a shout, always more fun in a crowd!

June in Review

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Lived

Highlights

Aside from that, counselling still going well, so well that we’ve paused my visits and I get to fly solo for a while. Meditation has slipped the past couple of weeks so need to get back to that, and a few days of flu-like symptoms has stopped me from going to the gym and I’m missing it.

Me. Missing going to the gym. Who’d a thunk it!

Stepcount: 258,261.

Read

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Read this for Book Club. Didn’t actually GO to book club as I was full of the cold but I enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s engagely written and you are quickly taken back to those school days when you discovered friendship and more with someone else. The fondness, the excitement, the building love of the two main characters as they slowly discover each other and themselves was endearing.

Watched

Wonder Woman
There has been a lot written about this and rightly so. Massive box office hit featuring a strong female lead (not the first strong female lead but I don’t think Alien opened as strongly at the cinema?) and directed by a woman. In no shock to a lot of people it was smart, funny, and less focused on the usual superhero mantras of ‘power’ and ‘dominance’ (the fact that Wonder Woman has both is never the focus).

And it was funny. And moving. And well balanced. And (mostly) well paced (that final fight scene was a bit too long for my tastes). It was fantastic and I really hope this is more of the direction that DC take with their superhero storylines, can you imagine Justice League being less focused on the men? That’d be something.

Also good

  • American Gods – finally started watching this and it’s growing on me. Visually stunning, echoes of Hannibal, and Gillian Anderson at her scene stealing best (although Crispin Glover brings his usual ‘weird’ to play with chilling effect).
  • OITNB – an odd season give it’s set over the course of a few days, and OMG how good is Uzo Aduba (Suzanne)! Strong performances throughout as well.

Listened

Glastonbury
I’m seeing Radiohead this week and their headline set makes me hopeful for a repeat in Glasgow. Foo Fighters did what they do best, rocked hard for 2 and a bit hours and yes, their cover of Under Pressure brought tears. Katy Perry looked like a lot of fun, Barry Gibb was unsuprisingly excellent (why are the Sunday evening ‘headliners’ still surprising people? They’ve been doing this shit for decades!). Elbow and The Killers as ‘surprise’ acts would’ve been amazing to see for the buzz that generated. Kinda gutted I was watching it all from a sofa, but glad I was able to share the Saturday night with friends.

Weekend Reading

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  • “Thing” now has a new definition in the Oxford English Dictionary, thanks to “The West Wing”
    Every quarter, the OED updates its expansive catalog with new words that reflect the changing times. This month, more than 1,200 new words and phrases were added to the list. For example, “woke” and “post-truth” made the cut—the latter was dubbed “word of the year” by the OED in 2016.
    Without even realising it I co-opted this usage as well, for, you know, that thing…

  • Mumbai has the world’s second-largest collection of Art Deco buildings but no one notices them
    Always look up, writ large in Mumbai.

  • A Lecture About the History of the Scots Language … in Scots: How Much Can You Comprehend?
    Dauvit Horsbroch has served as the Language and Information Officer of the Scots Language Centre since 2007, and has spent considerable time living in North East Scotland. Above, watch him give a 19-minute lecture on the history of the Scots language … in Scots.
    Please note: this is a distinct language, it’s not gaelic, nor just English with some Scots slang.

  • Hayley Webster on Twitter
    1. I want to tweet an experience I had last week that summed up some stuff for me re women saying ‘No’, that I’ve been trying to articulate.
    A twitter thread for ALL MEN (Yes, ALL MEN) to read.

  • I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People
    Like many Americans, I’m having politics fatigue. Or, to be more specific, arguing-about-politics fatigue. Personally, I’m happy to pay an extra 4.3 percent for my fast food burger if it means the person making it for me can afford to feed their own family.
    I’d dearly love the word compassion to start, and stay, trending. We are all lumps on flesh on the same planet, can’t we get along?

  • How ‘Wellness’ Became an Epidemic
    When Gwyneth Paltrow first launched Goop in 2008, it was a great place to find out where to eat the best tapas in Barcelona. It was straight-up celebrity-lifestyle voyeurism, and Paltrow, with her long blonde hair and aura of complete self-satisfaction, was irresistible.
    Given my recent sojourn into this territory it is at once fascinating and terrifying that so much unbridled bullshit goes unchecked.

  • 2017 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest, Part II
    The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is open to submissions until the end of this week, June 30. The grand-prize winner will receive a 10-day trip for two to the Galápagos Archipelago with National Geographic Expeditions.
    Because, hey, this planet thing we are on is pretty damn amazing.

  • The funny thing about wanting something badly
    Every day, I talk to someone who wants something badly: a postdoc looking for his first industry research role or an applications scientist who feels that her destiny is to become one of the company’s highly paid regional sales managers.
    Less is more. Life lesson #67… ohh I’ve lost count.

  • Chris Froome: Tour De France & the secret world of climbing
    The first thing you notice when you shake Chris Froome’s hand is how lean he is: big eyes, thin cheekbones, black t-shirt and shorts hanging off him as if they are two sizes too big. We are in Monaco, with the Tour de France imminent.
    Despite the doping scandals I hope in years to come we will look back at realise just how remarkable this guy is (but then, didn’t we say that about that Lance guy?)

  • Pride in London is not worthy of the LGBTQ+ community’s support
    The concept of ‘pride’ has become the central discussion point within the LGBTQ+ community in recent years. The trailblazers of the 1960s and 70s literally ran riot, did time and, in some cases, died, fighting for basic respect and recognition.
    Ugh ugh and more ugh. I’m not close to the Pride movement and I sincerely hope this ‘model’ isn’t reflected elsewhere.

  • Greetings, E.T. (Please Don’t Murder Us.)
    A new initiative to beam messages into space may be our best shot yet at learning whether we’re alone in the universe. There’s just one problem: What if we’re not?
    We are all just lumps living on this … actually, you know what, dear E.T. please come down and wipe the slate clean, we’ve kinda fucked everything up.

  • Britain’s ancient parliament officially goes “business casual”
    It’s the end of an era for Britain. For centuries, Britain’s House of Commons has adhered to strict rules (pdf) seen as vital to the smooth-running of daily affairs.
    ….. [insert your own ‘shouldn’t they be vosting on more important things right now’ sarcastic comment, I’m out] …..

  • Christopher on Twitter
    Strange request. Anyone know anyone famous/well known who could send Ollie a positive/9th birthday message. The bully keeps saying to him
    Another twitter thread but what a great one to end on. Keep scrolling, it gets better and better. Note: you may well up/cry like an eejit. SEE! COMPASSION!!!

My Glastonbury FOMOing

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I hadn’t really thought on it but as last weekend approached, and I chatted to people I knew who were going, I realised how much FOMO I was feeling with not going to Glastonbury this year.

Add in three of my favourite bands playing (one of which was a surprise addition) and the FOMO was strong with this one! Ohh and then ALL the sunshine whereas last year we had ALL the rain… pfffttttt!

Trying to explain why Glastonbury is such a wonderful experience, especially to those who haven’t been before, is tricky. Yes it’s massive, yes if it rains it kinda sucks to be sodden all day long, yes I have seen many of the bands already, yes you are outdoors the entire time, but none of that is the point.

It’s also tricky if your only experience is the bampot-laden drink/drugs/twat fest that T in the Park has become. Not that there aren’t drinks/drugs/twats at Glastonbury, more that it’s so massive you can easily stay away from them and even the drunkest drunk (or highest high) is usually apologetically stumbling around rather than looking for a fight.

So why do I enjoy Glastonbury? Why are the queues, the loos, and the expensive booze worth the hassle?

From arriving on the Wednesday you can revel in those first couple of days before it gets really busy, you have time to just wander about, marvelling at the artwork and the installations, and that’s when I find I start to relax and embrace the whole Glastonburyness of it. The entire space feels disconnected from the rest of the world and from the circus area to the green fields, everything is focussed on having fun, being happy, and being good to one another. What’s not to like?

But maybe it’s me.

I have a basic assumption about people. People are nice.

On the whole the majority of people are nice, caring, kind at heart. Sure we all deal with assholes and brainless wonders every day (and remember, nice people don’t make the news!) but away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, where we are all caught up in our own worlds (and probably being a bit of an asshole to others in our own way as well) that’s where Glastonbury exists. A safe place, where the nicer and friendlier you are, the more rewarding it is. Where a smile is quickly shared and people are thoughtful and considerate.

Families pushing kids in buggies, the couple in their 70s who’ve been at every Glastonbury since 1983, the group all dressed in skintight neon lyrca disco gear, sit down next to any of them in a bar, or with a coffee on a bench, and strike up a conversation. The police officers smilingly rejecting the offer of a joint at 2am, the security guard dancing with Katy Perry, all the caterers and bar staff who are working 12 hour shifts but still smiling.

Jonny Greenwood captured it perfectly when he said “the thing about Glastonbury is that, when you leave on Monday, your faith in humanity is restored”. This is exactly why I was a bit sad I wasn’t there this year, dancing like an idiot in the silent disco on Thursday night, because it was always (even though I didn’t realise it) more of a re-grounding and re-connecting experience that I ever gave it credit for. It was big and new and scary and weird and wonderful and sometimes that’s just what you need to remind you that, actually, the world is pretty damn awesome if you keep your eyes and heart open.

Rain or shine, a few days outside in the fresh air is good for the soul. Be it amazing headliners on the Pyramid stage or a new discovery at the Pussy Parlour, music is good for the spirits. They all come together in a million and one memories that build a picture of happiness and love and acceptance.

THAT is Glastonbury.

That is the mental and emotional reset button that I now realised I was missing.

And then the Foo Fighters played Under Pressure…