Lifetime of Learning

We like to be surprised. If you think of the last YouTube video you watched or online platform you used outside of WordPress (or perhaps within it) the best part was without question when you became enraptured by something.

Why is that?

Why watch a YouTube video of a cat missing a jump and falling out of shot like a cartoon.

I still get caught by those cats, or Simon’s cat.

There was the “double bounce” videos where both kids and cats got shot into the air, or even off camera by a person or preferably two in succession falling on the same mattress.

Someone did this to me on a trampoline when I was a kid. I shot into the air and shrieked.

In all of these cases, maybe even now, we lose ourselves in the thrall of it. In the subject of learning sure, bouncing a cat isn’t exactly a study of the northern Wyoming’s biodiversity but it is still a study nevertheless.

Over the past year I have been more musically focused which is the reason for less of these as I have been over there (pointing to my keyboard, trust me) more than typing these on my phone. But I’ve been enjoying the study of that and I’ve noticed my own growth over the past year. I’m almost 45. Like in two days. I know, it’s scary lol!

But I’ve been making music “seriously” since about the age of 20 or so. (Got my first bass guitar quite late). Anyways I can promise that I am still absolutely enthralled by learning and there is lots to tuck into. My playlist just went to Teru by Wayne Shorter off of his album Adam’s Apple which seems appropriate as listening to that level of musicianship speaks to how much there is still to explore.

Even if it’s what you watch of YouTube. Now some documentaries on there are pretty bland (if there is lots of animations and ‘exciting’ noises it’s probably less of a heavily academic work) but there is some really good ones too. Even though his stuff is a bit of a British cliche by now I would suggest anything hosted by Tony Robinson who has gone from actor to amateur archeologist with programs like Time Team and Walking Through History.

Here’s episode one as a sample.

There’s also Hoopla Audio which is an amazing app you can connect to your local library and can get you music, audio and even plays. For a writing project I’m listening to stuff on Shakespeare including acted plays that are on there.

There’s NPR of course and the Ted Talk series, How I Build This and a variety of other programs on there. I have to mention Car Talk as that has become a early week tradition for me at work laughing along with the episodes by Tom and Ray while I learn about cars. Or at least feel like I’m learning about cars.

And then of course there’s the public library.

Maybe this all starts to get you as you get older but I never was that jazzed about library stuff as a kid. I remember me and my older sister being part of a library kids club back then and she did way better at it than me.

Anyways later later on I wanted to write my first real book based on Lord of the Rings and so I did all this research on everything I could, trying to step up to Tolkien’s level (trying being the key word) and even though, no, I failed to create any languages I really had fun learning about things like archery (which I also did physically-awesome!) and some botany subjects and other things. I remember getting really excited about anything I could tie in like the history of wine. See my Georgia blog for more about this.

So, how to wrap this up! I’d say browse. Browse one of these platforms or the library for something you’d like to know. Make some tea and settle in. No this won’t be something to entertain friends with straight away. Take a quiet moment to settle into this kind of journey.

The world is out there.

Explore!

πŸ™‚

Tom

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

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

Let’s Talk

Just got paid this morning and I’m actually avoiding looking. I wonder how many other people do that.

There’s something wierd about when you just got paid. Bills and things haven’t gone through yet, like an animal released or a bunch of pacmans sent shooting across a field of marbles. It’s like you really could go any direction, like you’re at the crossroads.

I miss that kind of conversation, don’t you? Now some divides have been around for ages, to be fair. I’ve always, always thought of those as stupid. Little kids, with their wide open wisdom, never see that. They go straight in. They play with that other kid, no matter who they are. They don’t decide that they and theirs are from Heaven (or wherever) and anyone from the other side, or who doesn’t agree with every thing they believe, is from somewhere below.

I am really considering getting rid of two social media platforms, which I know won’t help me, but I get frustrated too. This one and Instagram are fun places to connect and be creative. It’s those other two, Twitter and Facebook, where you go on only to wish you hadn’t.

It isn’t sticking your face in the sand. I don’t know how you could because news comes at you from all over, and most of these are not news (and what is gets questioned) so what do you believe?

I made a point of trying to keep both “sides” visible, but this just leads to waking up to anger.

There is too much anger and too little listening. I can only hope that this burns out as it can only keep going for so long. Neither side is discussing anything from what I see. He and her are certainly the most polarizing force we have seen and it has fueled it seems every division we have ever had. It made all the cracks glow. Now the question is can we turn our situation into an actual positive force?

I wish I had an actual answer or the thing that finally brought everyone together like some big party in Zion from Matrix.

Apparently one day we will all rave and be in amazing shape..

Or even to make things calm down, but the thing is, I think it could actually get better if we hold the rigging through the storm. This could break us with the pent up anger that has been there all along. I just saw today that they found writings by Einstein that were not racially good, and I’m not surprised. The most forward thinking explorer of First Nations people here on the west coast was Franz Boas, back hundreds of years ago. He wrote books that are actually in the Friendship Center and they refer to Coast Salish people as “savages”. Let make this clear, he was considered one of the “good guys”.

I always have problems with that phrase straight away. I haven’t always been a good person. I can’t be alone in this. Good and bad guys are for cartoons. I remember a woman talking about living in a mob family, where 90% of the time she was respected and saw nothing but a loving Catholic-Italian family. But, every now and again “business” would be conducted and, as she put it, it was like seeing these iron masks come down.

Another powerful scene involves the most evil man in history, and the one who gets too often used to compare people, Hitler. Where am I going? Well, there is an interesting movie called Downfall and we have all seen that clip of him ripping into his Generals in the bunker office, but there was that other scene with his dogs and his family where he is lucid and acting like any other German older man. And I mean, that’s him. I am of course by no means condoning what he and his did and I am not a denier, but it is interesting to see humanization of that most iconic evil.

My point is that we should not apply Occam’s Razor to how we interact with each other.

Don’t judge me, you could be me in another life, in another set of circumstances” from “Tommorow We’ll See” by Sting.

Going back to before, what’s great is that we are going through all these things that have been buried. It’s crazy because these days at work I listen to comedy shows of the early 2000s and you really would think by how they talk that discrimination was eradicated.

But it wasn’t, was it? And there are so many forms that it has taken.

Ways to divide people into groups.

Maybe one day we’ll stop.

One day.

We’ll learn we can stop and listen.

Reach out.

Talk.

—–

Today’s music was me finally listening to the soundscapes of Sigur Ros, an Icelandic avant-rock band from ReykjavΓ­k.

Here is their album Sigur Ros – Valtari

Cheers,

Tom

😊