What to do when you’re tired

I like to put in about 4 hours each morning but last night probably had less sleep than that. So what to do?

Practicing technical stuff seems a bit pointless as I’ll be practicing mistakes. And yeah, I’ve definitely had that experience of being too awake to sleep and too tired to spell the word “the”. It can make you feel really forlorn and frustrated so what do you do now?

Step back. Explore.

This is actually a time that really works wonders. Don’t beat yourself up with a) trying to sleep when that won’t kick in and b) get upset that you’re performance isn’t up to your ace level when of course it couldn’t be.

For me this morning it was playing through songs I hadn’t heard, working on an original idea I meant to do and then just finally going for a walk. I mentioned walks before and one of my favorite things is to get totally lost (I bring my device with data if it’s bad lol) and listen to music. Treat it like an artists date.

And that’s the gag here. You don’t have to be in “Fine Arts” to enjoy this. Explore your world in something you haven’t done for a while. You’ll get a second wind soon enough so enjoy this off the beaten track crazy moment. Be like a kid that’s stayed up too late and it all feels different and exciting. Take photos, go through old boxes, check out the books and niknaks at a Thrift store. Go up that trail you always drive past and wondered what’s over there.

Be over there today.

πŸ˜‰

Today’s music is a really cool Jazz standard by Chet Baker called Alone Together.

Click here!

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The arts – unmasked

Early Salish Carver

Did read the recent Twitter run about Geoffrey Owens? He was that guy from the Cosby Show that someone photographed working at a Trader Joe’s.

Or what about those local bands that have yet to go huge and end up on Jimmy Kimmel?

Like that relative you have you is still writing the same novel?

Isn’t talent meant for just those you see in mainstream media?

Ok…by now you might pretty much realize where I’m going here…the answer is no. ☺️

We’re all Geoffrey in a way. I work as a cleaner and I’ve worked behind multiple counters as well. For a year I did go full time thanks to some funding, but that didn’t stick as rules changed (I swear, and yeah, it sucked).

While being a bassist and writer I have been lucky in one way though, and that’s that I consistently have interacted with other creative people and seen what they have been doing, getting a taste of what’s out there, even if it’s just here on Vancouver Island.

From Native artists like Roy Vickers and Alano Elzerza to the Black Angus band to the Eighty Sticky Fingers show in Colwood BC that represents local artists and potters I have consistently been surprised by what’s out there and of course with the very medium you’re reading this from, I have uncovered more.

And it isnt… here’s the thing…”not as good as it’s not famous or whatever”. It doesn’t work that way. It’s like espresso. Someone tamping a perfect shot produces a better drink than…brace yourself…the machine that does it fast at your local Seattle giant chain. The latter just has gone that direction with it. It’s like when I was young and I (embarrassing..) asked a local jazz horn player why he didn’t put out an album like Kenny G.

I don’t have the hair..

Alano Edzerza of North Vancouver.

And that’s not to run down Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran… they’re excellent at what they do too…truth is the arts is just that…it’s a craft and these are the craftspersons. The very doing of it is part of the joy and beauty as is the fact that it is not easy, that it is not necessarily lucrative involving a Hollywood tycoon with a cigar.

Victoria Jazz Festival

So I suppose the take away from the Geoffrey situation is to see what’s going on in your own home town. Got some extra white on your walls? Make them pop with local art where not only will you have some nice color but you might have a story of actual interaction with it’s creator. That’s one of the best parts. When we do a Cookeilidh gig we end up answering questions about things like Woody’s Irish flutes that are handmade from African blackwood which is incredibly dense and are cut precisely from an old original.

While we are discussing local music, I can only wrap it up with this example. This is the late George Essihos who I did take a lesson with once and his bassist who was pretty much the most influential teacher I probably had. Don’s pretty good too.

πŸ˜‰

Listen here … https://youtu.be/2u4AEvgFDcc

And yeah, see what’s happening in your local arts community. From stage to film, visual arts to music and beyond I can strongly say you will be richer for it.

😊

Tom

Alpha, Beta, Gamma…what to do?

Speak low when you speak love…

Kurt Weill

Do you put more faith in a clear abundance of ego or someone who convinces with facts?

Kurt may have been more introverted or what is called a Beta male. There’s Omega too, as well as an army of others but let’s keep to the two main ones here.

Alpha male. Dominant.

Beta male. Submissive.

Off the top of my head I can add the names Nick Drake, Vincent Van Gogh, and Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins as strongly potential Beta males.

Alpha males are far easier to spot as they naturally feel perfectly ok under the intensity of white hot light. Most actors, politicians, employers, sports figures fit here but… ok…Frank Sinatra, Stephen Colbert and…yes, you guessed it…Donald Trump.

There’s things I’ve heard, read and experienced where the reality of Beta males comes into question. Like shouldn’t they not be like that and step up as it were. I see the point because it is really what it is about Alphas that we naturally like.

An Alpha will look you in the eye and shake your hand (typically) and will sell you something with actual confidence. You feel confident with them. It puts your mind at ease. They are the company breadwinner, the pointman and the guy at the front.

Betas get flustered. They might be extremely intelligent but when asked to produce on the spot it throws the whole game. Betas can’t sell it smoothly and have to work like crazy to play the same game. They are usually at the back and prefer that.Β  Sometimes men are dominant or submissive depending on the situation as well but when someone is not the supremely outgoing/extroverted/Alpha-type as I’m not for the most part, that does tend to be the default setting.

Anyways, here’s the thing…we need both guys.

It’s the ying and yang of how it works. It is ludicrous to try to impose Alpha rules on Betas like Vincent Van Gogh should have really left his ear alone and took up, say, tackle football. The kind of man he was gave us the beauty of his work.

Same with Nick Drake who had a very difficult time due to shyness and depression to perform live. And yet Nick’s beautiful sound still resonates today. Sometimes you want to muscular sound of Van Halen’s Jump and sometimes you want the soft, close sound of Nick Drake’s Riverman

To wrap up this one… here’s Five Leaves Left – Nick Drake (Full Album)

Have a wonderfully exciting, or chill, long weekend.

Your choice.

Cheers!

Tom

Many hands

Ever wanted to be a rock star?

Even better… Imagine being a central figure of a massive band that then breaks it up to be a huge solo act, traveling the world and trying everything under the sun from different music styles to acting to writing.

Yeah, I’m pretty much talking about this guy…

You can add dark glasses if you wish

…but lots of musicians have been down similar paths from Beatles to Byork (though I will admit I don’t know the mechanics of The Sugarcubes band of the latter)

But the reason I chose Sting was because of something he rightly said in the sleeve of his first solo album.

Since I started this thing people have referred to it as my solo album, which is of course ridiculous.

I know what you are probably thinking.

What? I just called it that. But as he goes on to explain there’s absolutely no way that it could have been a success without the work of his team of musicians, sound engineers and everyone else that would have been needed in 1985 to make that album finally release in the June of that year.

“The Dream of the Blue Turtles”

Whether your a rock star from the Northeastern England or someone working on a company project the truth is we all need other people to make something of substantial value. Often it’s best for one person to oversee the vision of the thing like in Sting’s case but as he said, it would have been crazy if he tried to hop around and do everything. When you work as a team, not only does the whole become greater than the sum of it’s parts (which it does) but also each person can bring the full effect of focusing on what makes them awesome.

What’s cool here is…each part is usually fueled by other people too. As a bassist myself there are plenty of other people involved to make it so that I can sit there and develop what I do from luthiers to teachers to other musicians I’ve worked with, to the entire life world outside of that that makes it so I can sit there and work on 2nd inversion arpeggios and triplets and one-e-and-ah stuff that you have to work through enevitably.

Of course this is a metaphor for the whole world outside of this.

It’s not just “nice” or “cute” to be inclusive and do away with us-and-them tribalism but it’s actually good business. If your on Team A and you want to work with the best of the best but that person, or even part of their network is in Team B, then you either resolve or accept that it wont have that person.

What’s more is the reality of possibly undiscovered talent. The bass playing world freaked out when we all first heard Bakithi Kumalo playing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album.

Now controversy behind the album rightly said things like “So it took a white person for this music to be heard?” It’s true. It should not take one of us at all and this is because of the pigeonhole thing we have that comes from a tribalistic background.

The trick is to have learned we can’t be divided. We are superior as one tribe.

Speaking of Bakithi, for today’s tunes…check this out!

Now I know…a bass album? But again, here is a project driven but many hands to make not just a light load but a beautiful one!

Check it out here and enjoy!

Bakithi Kumalo – Change

😊

Cheers,

Tom

Not all who wander are lost

One of the best things I have discovered is literally one of the absolute simplest, walking.

It’s strolling in the city or hiking in the woodland but it’s really that same thing. It’s the way you discover the world around you the way nature meant us to.

It is a great simple way to burn calories as well, with a brisk walk bringing your heart rate close to a target rate. If you don’t feel like jogging or don’t have the equipment for cycling or cross country skiing it’s always there. It is low impact and it is great for battling anxiety, bloating/nausea (it works like a mother burping you essentially) and of course you can mix it’s exercise qualities with doing actual errands. What barbell can pull that off?

There is also the creative element. There’s always more streets to go down and places to explore (don’t venture into people’s property…they don’t like that…I know, right?) and this is always great for being inspirational. I have definitely worked out ideas in walks and there’s also that liminality quotient of bringing you out of your comfort zone and into the experience of the world.

Locally you will get to know your way around which is great and one of my favorite things is combining that with a pair of headphones. Any of the music that I’ve been recommending on this blog would be awesome, as would your favorites, but for today’s…

Here’s a classic Tom fav from a classic album…

Today’s track is Depeche Mode – Freestate

Open your mind – Freedom’s a state

😊

Tom

Care for the Soul

Been a while! Part of the reason for that is what leads sort of into this morning’s blog post idea.

The idea you don’t have to take it all on.

There’s this thing going around that those who don’t jump on the comment section bandwagon have their head in the sand or some other failing. Ironically this rant on Twitter, that one on YouTube and the third on that new social media thing that was just introduced yesterday is probably not going to change your life.

There’s connections to be made out there certainly, and there’s things I’m doing now that come from those connections but there is without question a toxic element at play. Ever had a difficult meeting? Do you have to now live one?

If you want to get involved in a cause, you may be able to get stuck into it physically and it will definitely feel more effective. There are people struggling not far from you and of everyone looks after the less fortunate near them, well the potential here is self explanatory. I’m not saying let’s not care about those abroad. You can certainly do that too (many join things like the http://peacecorps.gov which very much still exist)

Look into local soup kitchens, outreach centers or other volunteer opportunities to make life better for those struggling just down the road from you now. If you want to make the world better you can a) try to affect how you listen to others, empathize and make time for them in your own life or b) go to where the problem is and try to help in physical terms. Neither are easy but both are very much needed.

Problem with comment sections is essentially trolls and negativity. You might enter a situation because you care or feel compelled but then that stuff kicks in, and you walk away just feeling frustrated. The people in need are barely effected. Remember the ice bucket challenge? Barely, huh? It was about spinal cord research which is a lie, it was about Als but you might have gone on with that for a second as it’s been so long that like me as I was writing this could barely remember. Now how effective was that and that, for social media, was a major event.

My plan is to cut my social media activity down by dropping the primary ones of my phone, and leaving them on my tablet which stays home. I genuinely like the creativity of some of it so if I see something I want to do it can still happen, but I’d rather live my life in the right now than this thing which is blowing “TV Generation” right out of the building.

Am I saying ignore the world? No, but bear in mind that too much of this is designed to crank up your emotions in the first place. They did it with the newspapers, the nightly news, commercials and now right here in your hand on something that makes you feel guilty for turning away.

There is beauty, love and joy in the world. It is there. It’s not all ____________ <- fill in what political or otherwise bugaboo that first springs to your mind.

I’ve actually started, and this is a grear part of Care for the Soul, listening to this that make me happy, or make me laugh. Part of my work work is very dull, repetitive and alone (which I appreciate is quasi-unique) so instead of NPR political shows all the time I’ve started finding audio of things like British comedies. Now they really shouldn’t be on media platforms (my official statement, it’s fine, grab what you can before it’s taken down) but see what you can legally get on your device that reminds you of gentler times, makes you so happy it is physical. You need this. We all need this. You can’t treat others with life-affirming compassion at the same level as you can when you don’t feel it.

John on the use of the word “Snowflake”

We need to feel connected to the others around us, not like we have to battle them every step of the way.

Life can be great fun.

Much like…..

Today’s album choice which is Kings of Convenience. I’ve chosen Quiet is the new Loud (which isn’t one file, my apologies) as it includes some of my absolute favorites including “Summer on the Westhill” which…well, it was once said that describing something beautiful like a sunset or art is a place where you shouldn’t so I won’t.

Enjoy this adventure for the soul by clicking here! 😊

Cheers,

Tom

Kindness is Magic

It has been now (just 2 days over in fact) five years since this little video was published on YouTube, as a mix of a song of the same name and people all over the world saying Kindness is Magic in different languages.

Click here to see Kindness is Magic

Kindness maybe little things but they make such a difference. When you feel for a moment that you aren’t alone, that we look out for each other, or that things won’t go too far wrong…well, it is magic.

Click the link today. I just want to let it speak for itself. I think we need it.

Cheers,

Tom

5 Ways to Cool Down this Summer

Well, the girls do have it right (and it’s an extra bonus one.)

One thing you can immediately do is make decisions as to what passes your lips. While proteins are still great the last thing you want is anything heavy or involving cranking your oven block to 450 degrees. Salad, fruit and smaller light meals are definitely the way to go when the temperature goes up. They are also water based, fruits and vegetables, so you’re up one straight away.

But as summer has already kicked in here, and I imagine elsewhere, let’s get to what I would call…

one

Keep the motor cool

Now this comes from just years and years of working outdoors in summer heat, the wackiest being when I tried doing roofing on a crazy custom house when I (no joke) had to leap part to part like being atop a castle. But, I digress.

Caffeine and alcohol (sorry but true…) are diuretics which essentially means they will take moisture out of you. Now both of these have their place but, and you probably know this is coming, but fundamentals are key.

You should be drinking 8 glasses of water when it’s cool out. I’m talking winter. As such you want, just like making sure your car has it’s coolants, enough water to keep you internally cool. I have two easy to clean steel water bottles and those are way easier to use, and remember to use, than cup after cup. If you do use plastic have a look at the bottom just for fun. There will probably be a little recycling symbol with a number. The higher number you can get, the better, as it means it will be easier to keep clean.

If you want to really geek out and be sure that you are hydrated (and maybe don’t bring this up with the gang buuuut…) Keep an eye on your, well, pee. If it is solid yellow you definitely need to drink water. Like now. Like lots. If it is clear then you are good to go.

One thing of course is you will want to ease back in the last 30 minutes before a road trip, or next thing you know, you’ll be looking for gas stations.

two

airflow

In the morning the sun rises on our east facing windows (hard to believe, right?) so what we’ve come to do is darken those just a little more will an extra sheet, allowing still for any breeze to blow around there. This helps to keep the greenhouse thing from happening.

Later they can come down and the focus is on allowing any cross breeze from to occur. It’s a little crazy if you’re in an apartment, but if you find the hallway warmer, well, open your front door for at least 30 minutes to allow for the air to flow through the building.

Then there’s your fans. In the case of a house you can do the thing where you point it facing out as you are blowing wind straight across from one side to the other. For apartments aim it in so you’re pulling the cooler outdoor air in and keep another window open for the rest to escape. There is the classic of putting ice behind a fan. You can try it but in truth, it’s a boat load of work for very light results. Unless you’re got like a big slab of ice. In which case, I’ll be right over.

three

Silent running

Honestly, the whole trick is to keep it all as simple and minimal as possible. My mom on holiday in Tuscany said she was getting warm so she had it recommended that she chill under the trees with a mineral water and white wine mix. I know what I said before, but it was an instant cool off. Turn off any extra stuff running, including excess lights as every one of them gives off heat. Get low as heat rises and chill, both in style and also physically. If you have one of those raised beds, make a little place to sleep in your lowest place. Think of it as summer camp. This is actually a classic First Nations thing, moving from the Winter Village to the Summer Village. The Summer Village near here was an small island out in the Salish Sea. They knew what they were doing.

four

baths, big and small

You should absolutely keep clean as much as you can of course, as sweat and body oils will help you warm up when you aren’t really looking for that. But, if you are home, feel free to indulge in extra cool baths and (holding your nose) get your whole head under there. In the same way you would lose heat through your hair and head in winter, this is a spot that also keeps you warm. You might even consider keeping your hair on the shorter side in summer, but that’s your thing.

five

clothing thoughts

Obviously keep this as minimum as possible. Most restaurants will be ok with dressing lighter in summer, but check if you’re not sure.

But the principal points here are to stick to nice, breathable cottons and to keep the palette on the lighter side of life. Keep the black clothes hung up until night time, as black absorbs sunlight and heats you up while white repels it. It’s not Labour Day for a while yet so you’re good to go.

Hope these help and I’ll see you tomorrow for more blogging fun.

To add to staying cool, you can’t lose with the classic Groove Armada vibe.

Groove Armada – Back to Mine (full album)

Cheers!

🏝️🍻

Tom

😊

I’ll admit it

I had definitely a time back in my twenties when I was much more angry. I don’t know if it was a mix of disillusion with some other stuff going on. I know I wasn’t happy and was perfectly prepared to burn any bridge, do anything.

I wasn’t happy. I was Mr. Confrontation.

I’m not now, and this is what I will admit. Is it bad? Oh, possibly. I don’t come on here or anywhere saying that I have the best answer to all things, I just know what has worked for me.

There is a lot of everything out there to confront and a large portion of that will be not only unavoidable but part of how you make your money. Why seek that out in daily life? It’s rhetorical by the way. Not actually asking.

You should protect what is yours and so on, but I have no interest in creating wackiness where it didn’t need to be. I guess that’s my thing with so much I see going on. Life can be fun and pleasant and a paradise for everyone so why do we have to fight, squabbling over who gets what…where the borders are marked…how unfair it all is.

I know people who were born with so many ticks against them that it’s crazy. In lots of cases it certainly is unfair. But we can be there for people and be empathetic in those cases.

I guess I’ve just seen too much of the no end in sight, escalating side of confrontation to want to be part of it, especially intentionally. In every one of those situations I’ve only ever had the same thought…I’d right now rather be far away, be someone else, be where it’s quiet and this is not.

I mean, so much of the most growth and most beauty in life comes quietly and simply. When studying music, or geography, or history or doing most things of value, you don’t aggressive. If you started an argument in the middle of making love you would ruin it. It’s like putting a hole in her dress at a party. It’s just a path to upset.

It also reminds me of what happened, or where I was after my turbulent twenties. I’ve always called it by the slightly lame title of the Back of Bay Street because, well, it was on Bay Street, in the bottom back of the same house I had first moved to when I first left home. This location was so quiet that I responded to that and that became a great time of study, writing, and even the earliest days of Cookeilidh for me. Only challenge has ever since because it’s so tempting to go back there, which is impossible as you are only 30 once.

But it was perfect. You could sit in stillness and watch the movement of the sun through the room. I had a night light at one end, in the kitchen, and two different colored blankets covering the windows, so from the chair in the bedroom the effect was a magical pink and blue with a white star at the end.

Happiest places I’ve been have always been like that.

You can never run out of things that can upset you for some reason if you really dig far enough. You can be the wealthiest person alive with a flawless everything and still be a miserable person because something will always disappoint. You have to pick your battles but also enjoy just leaving the warfare alone.

“It’s no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.”

————————————————————————————–

Thanks for reading! Today’s ambient music for reading is mum – Finally We Are No One (full album) which is the 2017 release (Couldn’t get the symbol over the u) and is just one of many of their great lush works!

Enjoy

Cheers 😊

Tom

Anyone can learn anything

Wanted to kick off by saying happy father’s day since I don’t blog Sundays. I remember learning stuff from my dad from math to stuff to do with the car, but of course lots of what I learned is more about who I became.

I’m an ADHD person who has been told by some that he can’t learn fast. I had doctors suggest I had a special typewriter as a kid because of my handwriting.

And yet I spend most my time these days playing my guitar, keyboard and guitar, and when I’m not here, learning as much as I can through audiobooks.

Different people learn differently. An interesting one came from my study of First Nations in Standing on the Edge of Yesterday where the writer talks about how for Native children it is (to her mind) more effective to communicate orally and have the student work on something physical than use pen and paper. Why? Because it has only been a few hundred years (not even) since all information was transferred from Elder to young person by oral traditions and learning. In fact it’s a reason why there would be multiple nuances in spoken language because there was hardly a public school system back then, so language was learned quite literally “in house”.

For myself I had two interesting experiences, one at school and one with boy scouts.

At school I absolutely failed my first year of typing. It was like I just couldn’t bother and was bored of it. For some bizarre reason that I can’t remember (hey, this was 1990…kind of a while back!) I took the course again. I was not distracted by the usual people of my grade and low and beyold…I utterly aced it. I got so fast that people would stare annoyed when my typewriter (like I say, 1990) would sound like a machine gun compared to other kids who were still pecking along slowly.

The other was to do with knots. In scouts they wanted you to learn the different knots such as bowline, reef knot, and so on. Just like in school I was a picked on nerd, so I didn’t want to be there at all. And as the whole thing was already not fun and now I was being talked at about these knots, I couldn’t do one to save my life.

I think that’s the thing too. I’m not Native but I don’t think the school classic system and me ever worked. I get this funny feeling that for me it’s about self directed study because years later I decided I wanted to learn everything about boating. My dad had, and still has, a little sport boat in the garage. Well I thought this thing was amazing and so on my own I learned, and could repeat like Forrest Gump showing his firearm, every single knot in existence…no sweat.

I sucked at music education back then. On my ukelele I just liked strumming, because picking and learning to pick notes in class was boring to me.

Uh…

⬆️Not to brag but, same kid.⬆️

Listening to The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner last night reminded me of this when it talked about grades. The idea behind grades was to assess how the learning method was working on the child and not to identify the “wheat” and the “chaff”. He talked about the source of cheating where, because of this same all or nothing mentality, kids would cheat because it was the grade that was important and not the knowing of the material.

Now some kids do learn perfectly in the normal method. Some are more kinesthetic and others like myself are prone to self directed study. This latter gets more interesting when you apply the idea that ADHD tends to promote deep dives into singular subjects (which I experienced with knots, bike mechanics, and then after the age of nineteen, bass guitar)

Gonna wrap up as, ironically, I have to practice and I got up late. Hope this helps annnnnd…

Today’s music choice is another classic, especially with the upcoming Queen biopic which looks amazing. John Deacon is where my curiosity peaked about the bass, and even though he’s not in this, it’s just great.

Bijou – Queen

Enjoy!

Cheers 😎

Tom