Very likely something with the words “Christmas” in the title.
If only because it has a haunting violin part, I’ve been listening to ‘Something Wild’ by Lindsey Stirling quite too much.
It’s been two years since I wrote a week of lists, but I thought I would start this last four months of 2016 with revisit to that old meme. So, starting on the first, the eighth edition of the Week of Lists begins, called the “Turning 40ish Edition” with deep and engaging topics such as this one…
I’ve written lots of fatherhood over the years, but as 40ish hits and the kid swings into the second quarter of her school career, I’m starting to think more strategically about how to be the parent of a tween.
The key points: she’s not a bundle of incoherent, reaction-based toddler anymore. She’s a logical and all-too-intelligent human who is either plotting ways to spend time together… or plotting ways to outsmart me.
5. Your Time is the Most Valuable Gift You Can Give
Barf. Cliche. But, oddly enough… it’s probably true. I don’t want to make it sound like I’m Mr. Moneybags over here –hardly, actually– but let’s just say that my daughter isn’t exactly wanting for much. We’re cozy. We manage. And if I see an activity or a little book that I think she might like, I hesitate, but not because I’m on a budget or something. I hesitate because I don’t want to spoil her. The meandering point of this is simply that while I could buy her pretty much anything her little heart desires (well..within reason. no ponies!) what I honestly have found over the last few years is that what her little heart desires is QT with her old man. The things she really seems to want are, funny enough, things that force us to spend a few hours together: a game we can play or make a video out of, a set of sketch books we can draw in together, or some other oddly concocted craft she’s determined will result in us “playing” together for a Saturday afternoon.
4. Indulge the Faintest Glimmer of Her Hobbies
Falling out of that time-is-valuable point, she has more and more started to be a kid with a scattered, but obvious wheelhouse of interests and blossoming hobbies. That said –and if you read this blog on a semi-regular basis I’ve written about it recently— we’re dealing with a bit of a stationary inertia issue when it comes to finding and pursuing hobbies. A trend among her age. And while I’m not even really sure that its a problem, I’m operating on the mindset that if we, as her parents, don’t even try budge her into something that might become a life-long passion, then we’re doing her a moderate disservice. Yeah, she’ll find something on her own, but if the kid decides, say, that she wants to draw, I’m gonna make sure she’s got access to some paper and pencils.
3. Be Nice to Her Friends
Five years ago all her friends were these little toddler clones of each other. I couldn’t have told one from the other, y’know. Wide eyed little four year old girls that — while each a unique flower of uniqueness and special-ish…ness — were pretty much all little kids. At nine, my daughter has a rainbow of personalities in her circle of friends. Some are shy. Some are not. Some are already mindful and complex individuals, with opinions and ideas and… they, of course, know exactly who I am. Five years ago it would have been a pat-them-on-the-head and smile situation, but at this stage of the game I feel like a dad needs to actually pay attention and learn the names of the whole team. After all, some of these kids are going to be contriving and conspiring behind my back in a few years — I may as well have a bit of a rapport with them.
2. Quit Something Bad & Start Something Good (y’know… as a Role Model)
Ah… the role model thing. Self-improvement is never in itself a terrible idea. A lofty goal. But add one more motivator to the list of that get-fitter, quit-turkey, read-more, spend-less, love-bigger, rage-softer resolution as 40ish hits: your kid. They are actually paying attention. And if you’ve got a clever kid like me, they’re probably tracking you, making notes, and telling everyone they know each time you fail… or, ideally: conquer.
1. Have A Song
I admit that ten years ago I would have thought this was a super-hokey idea. The first time I heard someone suggest it I probably thought, yeah… right. A special father-daughter song. But shortly after the kid was born I started playing her one particular track that I thought was pretty sweet, but not too saccharine that it would get really annoying from over-use. I would play it during bathtime. Then occasionally when we were hanging out. Sometimes we dance in the living room when it comes on. All this time I’d tell her that this was our special song… which I guess it was. I put it on a bunch of mix-CDs that I’d burned for my car. And… well, nine years later, yes… we’ve got this special song. She keeps it on her iPod. She tells me that she listens to it when I’m missed. (Awwwww….) It’s not quite a surrogate father, but it certainly doesn’t hurt my dad-cred when I’m gone for a long run or home late from work.
June 20 – Something You Are Feeling
aka. Post 20 of Those 30 Posts in June Blog-Every-Day Posts
So, at some point between arriving at work and departing, having charged my phone at my desk, Apple Music decided I didn’t really need the thousand or so songs that were stored in my collection.
Sure, they are mostly all in that ethereal plane known as the cloud, and I’ve spent the better part of an hour (RE)downloading about two hundred of the otherwise MIA tracks, but WTF Apple? W? T? F?
I’m not exactly a tech dummy, either. I know what I did. I also know what I didn’t do: I didn’t break it. I’m 99.9% certain this was not a user error. I’m not about to call up one of their so-called geniuses and be told to restart my device or that I must have done something despite my own assurances. The music spontaneously disappeared from my iPhone. It was there this morning and I listened to it on the way from the train to my office. And it was gone eight hours later, the phone having done little more than accept a top up charge and sit in my desk drawer for most of the afternoon.
Did I mention: WTF Apple?
Trust guys. It’s about trust.
I mean, first the app itself becomes a POS… now it just flat-out deleted my music. End rant! Yeah, I’m a little frustrated.
I guess my biggest beef is that since they launched it, Apple has been trying to push their streaming music service down our throats. So, that in mind, I got a bit of a “Did I do that?” Urkel vibe off of my phone, if you know what I mean… as in, maybe it wasn’t an accident. *furrows brow*
I’m not against streaming music, but then the facts seem to suggest that they don’t understand ME as a customer. Maybe don’t care to understand me. After all, I’ve only bought a couple computers and a handful of phones from them. I’m not a “heavy user” of their products. I’m just a guy who likes listening to music that he’s already bought. A guy that NEEDS to have pre-download music because I spend half my commute in a train tunnel with no wireless service. A guy that buys the cheapest data plan and isn’t going to upgrade it at these ridiculous Canadian telecom prices so that I can stream music over my precious bandwidth.
Just saying, Apple: it’s the little things. It’s tough to keep feeding the machine when the machine just gets hungrier and hungrier and then starts nibbling at your fingers.
Madonna’s cutesy pie version of “Santa Baby” seems to be on the radio every time I turn it on. Someone at the station must have dusted off their cassette tapes…
We drove to Red Deer over the weekend and I tortured Claire and her cousin a bit with some old music and (deliberately, right?) bad singing.
With a new pickup truck and a (nearly) eight year old daughter, it’s probably (regrettably and embarrassingly) something from the Taylor Swift catalog.
a mash-up of writing & (making) music
I’m asking. I don’t know.
Occasionally (and I will admit it is no where near the level where I could honestly use the word “frequently”) we writers get asked how it is that we’re able to write so much and so quickly. After all (and I think many of my fellow writers can relate that) between various active projects and perhaps a job or a contract that evokes a professional need to compose far-less-casual kinds of words-on-paper (reports, emails, and documentation) writers can tend to write a lot. In fact, me, every day I write a lot. Thousands of words, a lot. A lot. It floods from my brain and into numerous spaces, largely digitally, and usually and solidly coherently. And (though hopefully this fact isn’t terribly obvious) I don’t do much in the way of proofreading or post-editing.
I think therefore I write.
Part of that is a factor of practiced typing speed. Another part of that is decades of experience with the English language as both a tool and a toy. Yet, there is another piece of me that (I humbly think) is just simply, innately writer-esque. I write because I am a writer. I write without thinking much of the time, the words and sentences just rolling out onto the screen sometimes faster than I am able to pound the keys to make them appear.
a mash-up of religion & (making) music
I had originally titled this essay “Is folk music a religion?” because my first approach at it had me pondering with a curious eye the seeming religiosity of my city’s local folk music scene… a scene in which I’ve never really participated, nor fully understood. The revision emerged as I continued to write and realized the accusations I was placing at the feet of folk music were not necessarily unique to any particular genre, and in fact folk music (while it would rank right up there on the cult-ish scale, if one were to exist) is probably not even the best example of music followings blurred with religious ferocity.
I do like music. I really do.
I also have specific tastes and tuned preferences for various styles or intensities of sound and rhythm that fill certain emotional or mental needs at different points in my day and life.
When I walk, I like candy pop. When I run, I listen to pounding electronic music or thrashing punk. I usually put on some kind of jazz while I work, though don’t dare ask me what kind of jazz I listen to because I couldn’t even tell you who is playing… I just like the sounds. When I’m driving I like instrumental soundtracks (no, really) and I fill all the other gaps of my life from an eclectic playlist of tunes slotted from a broad range of genres.
This not only gives me claim to a huge music collection, but makes me one of those indecisive guys who answers that-question-we-all-ask with the vague-ish, non-answer of “Y’know, I like all kinds of music.”
a mash-up of talking & data
Using the steady pressure generated by inflating and deflating our lungs, air moves across a little flap of flesh in each of our throats called the larynx. This causes the vibration of that flap, which in turn generates an audible tone. We shape and nudge this tone into enunciated and projected words, and –at least as I understand it– this is how we create speech.
It is an analog process: sound waves in the air, mashed together by countless variations and combinations of frequencies, amplitudes and tones, all of it received by another little bit of flesh, this one buried in the sides of our head, that translates that analog information into a brain signal we interpret as sound with meaning attached.
What would it mean to have a digital voice?
Modern sound recording is often referred to as a digital process. Unlike past iterations of this technology (record players or cassette tapes) where sound waves were etched or modeled into a physical medium, we now use electronic equipment that is essentially an input device that demodulates the sound into binary information (though a microphone) or alternatively modulates that binary information back into a sound wave (through a speaker.)
This information is about the sound itself, largely because that’s what we are using sound for: to convey analog, audio information. But where there is already information being conveyed by the sounds that make up the human voice, there is precedent for using sound as a transmission medium for binary information: for example, computer modems. Or, at least the kinds of modems that relied on the analog telephone network of the kind we were all too familiar with a mere couple of decades ago. (Remember? The squeal and then the static? That was digital information being passed across a phone line as sound waves.)
In this hypothetical case, what would it mean if the human voice could –rather than simply generating and interpreting sound waves themselves– modulate and demodulate sound to transmit (for the sake of simplicity) binary data?
How would it change things?
Of course this is all speculation, but it is interesting to imagine a world where some or perhaps all conversation was able to convey raw information embedded within it.
What would we transmit? Would we retain a some of our analog conversational abilities for informal or familiar chatter and reserve the digital voice for information that was more dense? Would we transmit ideas at all? Or would we communicate through simultaneously talking in an analog way while embedding a signal with lesser or supplemental information in those words, a signal say that carried feelings or memories?
What would that mean for singing and music, and would we be able to transmit that additional information from our voices electronically the same way we do with recordings and broadcast transmissions now? If we didn’t use our voices for analog sounds at all, it seems unlikely that we’d have music. Or, if we did, it would be vastly different, perhaps acting more like a visualization of unique and interesting data patterns imagined by artists in that field, or patterns that evoked symmetry or fractal-like mathematics that we felt rather than heard.
What could go wrong?
The big question that comes to mind is the right to ignore someone else’s voice or information that is transmitted via digital sounds, if that is even an option. We live in a world where what we hear is transmitted through sound that needs to be interpreted by our brains, and we can choose to ignore that interpretation. What capacity would we have to filter raw information? Similar to a computer, could we infect people with ideas, like a Dawkins-esque meme but much more potent? Would this be a major problem that we faced as a society, with strong laws built around voice transmissions?
And things like advertising and propaganda would be abstractly different. A smooth reassuring voice could be carrying inside of it hate-filled rhetoric, or a beep from a nearby device could be transmitting SPAM-like advertising directly into our heads, and we might not even…
On second thought, maybe this isn’t such a great idea after all.
The annual pilgrimage to the Girl’s elementary school to mingle with the other parents whilst our kids were paraded clumsily onto the stage to serenade us with holiday-esque songs… yeah, that was tonight.
We rushed through dinner, dressed up just enough to not feel like slackers, and stole off to the school to secure both (a) good parking and (b) reasonable seating. Even so, arriving thirty minutes early had us seven rows back. I suppose we’re still not the most eager of parents, eh?
Unlike previous years when our over-capacity school stuffed a thousand parents and six hundred kids into a gymnasium built for a third of that (fire codes be damned, I guess) or rented out a local mega-church and watched with bemused chuckles (or so I imagine) as five hundred cars jockeyed to simultaneously escape the parking lot after a two and half hour concert — unlike those past years, they crunched it down. Just two grades were featured tonight: grades two and three. About one hundred and twenty five kids and their parents.
So. Much. Better.
Yet, still some managed to find opportunity to fulfill the usual array of social obliviousness: letting young kids run wild during the performance, recording the entirety of the event on a cell phone held up to obscure the vision of others, leaving part way through and disturbing others, or simply wandering around for no apparent reason.
We even heard grumblings about the less-than-epic production value: hey… it’s a elementary school concert. What are you expecting?
But the kids had fun, and that’s all that counts. And we filed dutifully out of the school after the hour-long event, made chatter with the other random parents, and endured an encore performance from the backseat as we drove home.
“Let it Snow”