Over time I have become rather peculiar about my preferred fountain pen(s), nib-sizes, ink colour and paper and after much experimentation have come to like EF-nibs and plain black ink, if possible on MD-paper best. It’s been a long ride to figure those out, but that’s where I am at the moment. I like things to be consistent and black-ink guarantees that most of the time with limited variations of course.
We had some real nice weather today and had a short visit at the beach.
I’m rather happy with the outcome of last year’s list and I managed to read quite a few books. As always there is a lot of Neil Gaiman in there, and I also during this year have re-read quite a bit of his work. While many of the books were audiobooks actual physical books have made a huge comeback here, and by now I don’t know why I ever though that digital books were such a clever idea.
The other day I let yet another un-used domain I own(ed) expire and with it got rid of yet another piece in the mess of domains and subscription-services that I have accumulated over the years. It is by far not the first one as the process of getting-rid of things has started already in the last year and it turns out, I’m not going to be done with it for a while.
Over the weekend I gave in and installed for the first time in about two years or such Instagram on my phone and started using it again. Much to my surprise I realized not only that I had fun, but also that I missed using it a bit. Okay only a little bit. Even in the best of times I had never been an avid user, but at least I used it since it almost since its inception whenever that had been.
It’s a couple of months ago, that I started to get into fountain-pens and then got me a Lamy Safari. At that time, I hadn’t used a fountain-pen since grade school and planned to give it a try again, because at the same time needed to upgrade, or to put it a bit more truthfully, completely re-learn my handwriting skills, which have become non-existent over time. While I’m still working on the latter, I have developed interest into all things connected to fountain-pens, such a the pens itself, inks, notebooks, paper, stuff to carry around said pens and paper… you get the idea.
My app-usage is as fluctuating as ever and I tend to experiment a lot to find just the right apps and setup for me. One thing that I avoid as much as possible is to have too many options for more or less the same thing. Sadly this can not always be avoided (see note-taking). When it come to services and apps I generally try to be as cross-platform as possible for the sake of consistency and to make sure I have access to my stuff everywhere I work, or do stuff.
I like to have a bowl of Semolina, or how it’s called here, Manna, porridge for breakfast from time to time, but it is a bit time-consuming to make if it’s just one serving. When it’s just one, I like to throw it into the microwave. In the past I looked up some instructions, and adjusted them to work for me. This is how it works for me: Recepie (1 serving): 0,25 dl Semolina porridge
I read about Dropbox’s newly introduced three device limit for free accounts about 5 minutes before it hit me. I haven’t come around (then) to set up Dropbox on my new phone, and bam! there it was! No go! To get my Dropbox on the phone to run, I had to get rid of 13 devices, which to be honest was no lost. Almost all of my registered devices were old phones or long dead laptop.
Almost two years ago I read an inspiring article about single-malt whisky which set me to the road of learning to enjoy the drink. To paraphrase the judge: the difference between a drunk and a connoisseur is a glass and a book The article in question was Matt Gemmell’s post “Whisky”, which I linked to earlier already, but I didn’t quite start right away. In the beginning it was more “interest” than actually drinking it.
I have this file in my text-editor in which I list my active subscriptions. I know it is a growing list. So, yesterday I was doing some budgeting and in the process did the following: I updated the list and made sure it contains all those tiny little monthly subscriptions, you know, those: cost you less than a cup of coffeeLooked at some of the less obvious expenses related to the above, such as audiobooks that are not covered by the monthly subscription fee, unused domains …I added all the yearly subscriptions to that and finally divided that through twelve to get a monthly pricePut all together, and … What followed was some re-thinking and adding a bunch of services to the sub-header Things to Cancel in said list.
As in the previous year(s) I enjoy to have a look at the numbers. In this post I have put together mostly my online-stuff. My health stats could also be interesting to look at, but at the moment they are spread around too much, that is in Fitbit, Google Fit and some are even in Apple Health, that it is a bit too much of a pain to collect them. Maybe next year.
I want a new bag but I don’t necessarily need one. The storage room in the cellar is filled with bags that I don’t use anymore, because my needs have changes (I’m looking in this case at oversized camera-bags), or which are flawed in one way or the other. The bags that I considered my favourites on the other hand, those which I used a lot, all broke. Most of the time it were the zippers, and in one case even the shoulder strap cut in half while throwing the bag over my shoulder.
It’s that time of the year again, STATS! The fine folks over at Todoist had done again an amazing job and produced, as in the previous years, a wonderful infographic with the users statistics. My complete overview you can find here. I just enjoy these. Since I mostly stuck with Todoist this year I guess the data is more accurate than last year. Note: I had one short stint in spring, and a much shorter in autumn using my iPhone and in the process Things/OF again, needless to say, it didn’t stick.
All I wanted was to write a little post with all the apps that I am currently using on the phone. As I reached the section with the task-managers, my writing got out of hand turned into this: a full blog-post. During the last year I have been going back and forth again between task-managers and found myself switching between Todoist and Microsoft ToDo (currently mainly using Microsoft ToDo (a beta-version).
The stats from Goodreads came in the other week and I was happy to realize that I reached my reading-goal for this year. I didn’t succeed with big fanfare though, as I just nailed it with 17 out of 17 books. Okay, the year is not over yet, and I just started reading Persepolis Rising, and still have John Scalzi’s ”Your Hatemail will be Graded” in the works, but somehow I doubt I will get either done still this year.
I like to come up with looping exercise like this, because they are a quick way to learn some new material and built-up vocabulary and technique. It’s time for another looping exercise. While practicing I was looking for a way to run through BeBop-scales in all keys following the ideas/concept as described in Jeff Elwood’s e-book Developing Be-Bop Lines and came up with this little loop. The exercise follows the idea breaking down the BeBop scale into three arpeggios followed by the BeBop passing note (again check out his book, it’s worth it) and then resolves into the next chord in the cycle of 4ths.
A transcription of Richie Cannata’s tenor solo on Billy Joel’s New State Of Mind A student needed to play the solo and I tried to find a transcription. Since I couldn’t find a transcription online and had a little downtime I quickly made one myself. It’s a rather slow tune, which makes the rhythmical notation somewhat cryptic, and in a few spots I’m not entirely sure if everything is correct.
It’s that time of the year when I am trying a couple of mouthpieces for the alto again. I grew a bit tired off my Meyer #8 which I have used now for about 3 years and it was time for a change. The mouthpiece simply doesn’t have the qualities that I was looking for and now I was starting to look for something new and, most importantly, different. A couple of emails and a few days later I received a bunch of new mouthpieces and was ready to give them a try.
As a musician and a person who enjoys to write (which in fact is more typing) I am always trying to improve my skills. Whether it is on the music side, or the writing side. To improve my writing skills I am currently reading William Zissner On Writing Well, which is very good and inspiring. What struck me, is that many of the presented ideas and concepts can be in the same way applied to improving ones musical skills, if just writing is replaced with playing or improvising.
I remember how I realised at the end of last year how few books I have managed to read during that year. In fact I was even a little bit shocked about it. So something had to be done and I challenged myself to read at leas one book more during this year. TL;DR I managed, even though I still don’t read as much as I would like to. I planned to read a bit every day, and mostly I succeeded with that.
“Learn to BeBop on changes like Hank Mobley first. It tells you when to stop.” Those were roughly the words one of my all-time heroes Rick Margitza said to me when I had the chance to have a lesson with him in New York. And even though more than twenty years ago, it hasn’t told me when to stop. Up to this day I enjoy working on lines. Hank is without any doubt one of the most precise players that I have heard.
At the end of last year I wrote a piece about my inability to read as much as I would like to, and I kind of challenged myself to improve on this. Suffice to say, that it is not there where I would like it to be, but at least it has gotten better. First off I continued with reading Packing For Mars which had been on my list already last year and eventually managed to finish it.
Nothing makes the end of vacation more apparent than the first few weeks at work. I guess that is rather natural, but recently it was even more so than usual. The last two and a half weeks were full of to-be-met deadlines with a lot of arrangements that had to be written. Yet I did somehow manage, alongside of my usual amount teaching, to write all in all 11 eleven arrangements while still trying to be also being available at home and not to stress too much about it.
Some of my favourite etudes that I ran into over the years are the Kröpsch Clarinet etudes, especially the first volume. The exercises are short, almost easy to remember and overall effective, challenging and fun to play. I always wished there would be something like that for Jazz saxophone studies. Last year Eric Alexander published a book with similar exercises which are fun to play and easily to be used in improvisations.