Evernote and Labradors

If everything is busy, it pays to get organised. Today I found myself in a lucky but stressful position – My work is busy, My family is busy and I am busy. I turned to an app called Evernote.

With its latest update, Evernote is incorporating To Do lists with all the notes, and I love it. Today was the first test of relying on it as an organisation app, and it worked very well. No more stress for me then. Evernote to the rescue?

Sort of. As great as Evernote and my organisation skills were today, there is always that curveball you weren’t expecting. Mine came in the form of Biscuit, my labrador. Our neighbourhood has 11 children from various families all of a similar age, all girls. A few of the families were watching the children play at sundown. Picture an idyllic street in an idyllic neighbourhood on an idyllic day. We are all chatting politely, being neighbourly.

Biscuit the lab shows up with a chicken in his mouth and chunks of feathers falling to the ground. My direct neighbour points out that this is his daughter’s chicken, and that is your (my) dog! I shout at Biscuit, who drops the chicken, who runs back through the open gate from whence it came, patchy and bruised missing a few feathers.

I believe the chicken is fine, and Biscuit was hauled back into my house before he chased some more birds. Bad neighbours….they need an app for that.

Sonos

I took the plunge recently into the Sonos family of sound systems – very clever software is the difference between these speakers and anything else.

I chose the smallest speaker as an introduction to the range. If I want I can extend my Sonos network one speaker at a time. They can play music at the same time if I want. You can group speakers and set them up as home cinema systems too. They work with bluetooth, wifi and other standards like Airplay from Apple. Very clever.

For now though I just got the most rugged and smallest speaker to carry around with me and withstand the household with all the kids smashing it. The Sonos Roam is waterproof and pretty sturdy. We could take it camping and to the beach, if the adverts are to be believed.

Happy Thursday chimps. The latest podcast episode is up today. It was fun to record something again.

Lying for the greater good

When dealing with little children, often you have to pretend to be excited by something. Even when there’s nothing exciting.

Yesterday a 6 year old gave me a taste of their smoothie. It was made of lemons, oranges and milk. Curdled milk by the time I tried some. “Delicious!” I said. Why???!

To protect their feelings of course. To avoid destroying their confidence. To be friendly and build a relationship. To encourage any effort of creation. To not be a d**k!

That said, it was a complete lie. A well intentioned lie. But a lie.

It’s funny how often this happens with little children and adults.

Upcoming podcast predictions

There are only a couple of days until the start of my new podcasting project. I enjoy picturing how it might play out. Here is what you might expect from me (the Chimpwithcans) every Thursday.

Essentially, Chimpwithcans is a podcast about fatherhood. About noticing your flaws and choosing to do something. About taming the inner chimp when something great is at stake.

The episodes will be short but I will maintain output for the foreseeable future. I once committed to 4 episodes in 4 weeks and delivered – but it was difficult, relying on guests to interview and each episode lasting way too long to maintain along with a busy life.

These new podcasts will be far easier to create and perhaps a little less structured and serious. More creativity is the goal.

If you’re curious, see the podcast page above for links on how to listen.

New look, new promise

Chimpwithcans.com has a new look and a new promise. There is now a home page to welcome you, a blog page, and a podcast page. There will be a podcast episode released each week.

The podcast may not be the most polished production in the world, and it may not be very long, but in the name of taming my inner chimp through creativity I will publish an episode weekly. Please see the new ‘podcast’ page in the menu above for details on how to listen.

If you look up the podcast on your phone, you will find an old episode “On Lemons and Nappies” which I created over a year ago. Listening to this afresh makes me cringe, but it’s a good baseline to work with.

The new, weekly episodes will start this Thursday. This should be fun.

Collecting junk

I am surrounded by audio and tech…stuff. I have four amplifiers, 5 speakers, a mini recording studio, a DVD player and 2 dust decoders. Then there is a bookshelf full of CDs and LPs, laptops, microphones, guitars, and various sets of headphones. All of it is unused. We are moving house soon and maybe it is time to rationalise this pile. Call some of it what it truly is. Junk.

It is a curious thing, collecting. My own collection and my status as a ‘hoarder’ has happened despite my best efforts. I have a passion for tech and AudioVisual, but I clearly also have some underlying desires to cling on to the past. The music industry as it was, the bands I used to play in, the days when I had time to burn on TV and music.

Excuse the obviousness of my simile, but South Africa is much like the room around me. There is a lot of excess baggage to offload in order to make any progress. In order to move on.

Happy Tuesday. Here’s to creating a writing streak, and to moving on from junk!

Drum kit musings

I have a digital/electric drum kit sitting next to me. It’s in a sorry state with cables unplugged, the drum chair at the other end of the room and not a drum stick in sight. In an office filled with music memorabilia, colourful pictures and record collections, the drum kit is a sort of physical reminder of a part of my life that is dead, wasted, shrivelled, kaput.

I no longer play live music. I no longer play the drums. I used to fucking love playing in bands, and now i don’t. So the next question is – Why??!

The easy answer is: if I knew why, then I wouldn’t be in this predicament! But I am in this shrivelled, pathetic predicament and so i must explore the genesis. A couple of points…..to make my point….pointedly:

Most recently – Having four kids in 5 years leaves little time for hobbies or passion projects. Even the most juicy passion will shrivel like a dead carrot under this pressure for time and attention……..However, I stopped playing the drums well before I had children. The last band I regularly played in was about…..14 years ago!!!! Therefore my kids are off the hook…dammit. What else do I have?

Traveling. I moved around a lot in the last 14 years. From Kenya to Australia to Johannesburg – back to Australia and now Cape Town for the last 6 years. This is a huge one – the most successful bands i have played in have involved friendships more than anything else. Friends getting together with music as the common interest and focal point. It feels like i haven’t been anywhere long enough to form the appropriate friendships. This is another way of saying I am bloody lazy socially. I have little excuse. I need to start somewhere. I can do this with work, with fitness, and with my household relationships – so I must do the same with friendships and music.

As with anything important – success comes from developing streaks. Pitching up time after time to play some music is the best way to play some music.

Sounds ridiculous but it’s not.

In a small way I think I also need to get an acoustic drum kit again. This electronic Kit was a gift from my wife and if i am honest I never quite took to it. I need to make some more noise.

Happy Wednesday all.

Discovery

As a boy, I used to have music played for me by my parents. Taste makers and influencers, my folks showed me variety and quality of music for which I am grateful. My dad worked for music companies so our collection of LPs and CDs was huge at home.

Then came adolescence and the urge to fit in and stand out in equal measure. I embraced playing drums, Aerosmith and metal music. My fellow band members at school were the biggest influencers at this stage. We shared CDs and listened to obscure radio stations.

The internet. At school in the late 90s our guitarist was very good with computers and the web. He must have been one of the earliest adopters of Napster. I used to watch him downloading catalogues with a mix of awe and disgust. This wasnt the way it was supposed to happen, was it? Little did I know.

Around about this time I also became hooked on music magazines like Q and Kerrang! As I headed off to university, These told me what to listen to along with Rolling Stone magazine.

Lately of course my discovery of music relies on an algorithm from Apple or Spotify. Sometimes this is a magical process. Serendipitous discovery of a favourite new tune. A sweet moment of bliss from an Apple music Radio station.

I am trying to influence the discovery algorithm actively, channeling the recommendations into my own playlist. I do miss sharing CDs sometimes.

Garden

Summer and the trees in my garden are over-growing like some sort of large fungus. As I write this, I have a big broccoli of a tree ready to collapse on my fence outside my window. An over hanging feeling. Branches and green vines of ivy tangle themselves over all the fences, walls and gutters. Over everything that is man made. In the brutal war of life, the trees are winning this battle no doubt.

Left to it’s own devices this garden will surely swallow me, strangle my family and smother my dogs. There is little room to swing a cat among the trees now. There is less and less light hitting my face because of the fertile, tangled greenery.

A service then, to push back the brutal nature. A team of men, perhaps, with keen tools to cut and hack and mow the wild forest until there is some sort of order created and restored. A quick, strong, efficient service that does what it says it will do. They could arrive in a pickup and leave not a trace of rubbish behind. They could take all the branches and remnants of murderous bush with them when they leave.